While it’s not always easy to pinpoint exactly what’s causing you stress, dealing with the effects and overcoming it doesn’t have to be as complicated.
When it comes to making helpful to-do lists, experts agree that there's a right way to go about it!
Try these easy relaxation techniques and quick ways to combat a bout of stress before it takes over.
If you’re feeling stressed about an impending event or just need to take a short timeout, try this ‘abdominal breathing’ technique to regain control. Find a quiet place to sit, and place one hand on your chest with the other on your abdomen. Take a deep breath in through the nose, trying to ensure that your diaphragm inflates rather than your upper chest. Relaxed breathing comes from the abdomen rather than the chest, and that’s what you’re trying to achieve here. Take six to 10 deep, slow breaths, until you feel calmer.
If you need an instant stress reliever, try this quick acupressure trick that can be done anywhere. Use your thumb and index finger to apply fairly firm pressure to the web of skin between the thumb and index finger of your opposite hand. Apply 10 firm pulses of pressure, or hold for around one minute to relieve tension.
Swapping a caffeine hit for a cup of herbal tea instead can instantly help with feelings of stress. Try a soothing blend like camomile tea if you’re feeling strung out and tired, while ginseng or mint teas can also help to calm nerves and anxiety while also clearing your mind.
SYNC YOUR CALENDARS
If you’ve got a paper diary, an email calendar and also a family schedule that you keep tacked on the fridge, it’s time to make sure they all marry up. Knowing what you have on your plate from one week to the next is essential for minimising stress. iPhones with newer software should have a ‘family sharing’ option to allow the whole family to update one central calendar with events and time changes etc, while there are plenty of apps like Google Calendar, Cozi Family Organizer, Famjama and Wunderlist which can help you to coordinate schedules, shopping lists and more.
PLAN EACH DAY
If you often wake up struggling to remember what you need to get done that day and regularly finish the day feeling rushed and stressed, try to take a few minutes each morning or even the night before, to make a clear plan for the day ahead. Don’t overload yourself with tasks and make sure you have everything prepared ahead of time.
Do this on a daily basis, and you’ll soon find yourself stressing less. Set a timer so that you don’t have to watch the clock, and find a quiet, comfortable place to either sit or lie down.
Whichever position you choose, make sure you’re relaxed, and if you’re sitting try not slouch, as that’ll increase tension in your body. You can keep your eyes open or closed for this depending on what makes you feel more comfortable; if you keep them open, choose a point straight ahead and focus on that.
When you’re ready, start the timer, and begin to focus your mind on your breathing. Keep taking steady breaths, filling your lungs and exhaling calmly. If you notice other thoughts popping into your head, simply bring your attention back to your breathing and carry on. Once the five minutes are up, you should feel calmer and more relaxed.
When it comes to making to-do lists, there’s a right way to go about it. Time management experts agree that simply listing an endless number of tasks is more likely to demoralise than inspire you. Instead, it’s better to choose just three to five ‘priority’ tasks for the day or week, and focus on completing those instead. You’ll be more likely to get them done, and will avoid feeling overwhelmed.
GET REGULAR EXERCISE
As well as improving your general health, exercise can be an excellent outlet for releasing stress and tension, while also triggering the release of mood enhancing endorphins. Whether you go for a jog, a brisk walk, hit the gym or join a group class, you’ll notice the effect that regular exercise has on your mood and stress levels quickly.
ESTABLISH A SLEEP PATTERN
Getting enough sleep is essential, and a lack of rest can often be the root cause of your increased stress levels. Try going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, and avoid using electronic devices just before you sleep, as they can leave you struggling to switch off.
Essential for sustaining your energy levels throughout the day and keeping your immune system working as it should, eating a well balanced, healthy diet is a vitally important part of reducing stress. Along with making sure you eat a good breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, think about including nutrient-rich superfoods in your meals like broccoli, spinach, kale, salmon and blueberries, that can give you an extra boost.