5 Tips For Stress Reduction -Blogtober Day 19

Mental Health Ireland describe stress as ‘A feeling of being under abnormal pressure…caused by anything from an increased workload, to an argument with a family member, to financial worries.’

It’s something we’re all familiar with and we all cope with to varying degrees. Below are some ways to help reduce that stress and hopefully begin to feel a little better.

Exercise: We all know we should be getting daily exercise anyway but many of us don’t. Personally speaking, when I’m feeling down/unwell/stressed exercise is one of the first things to go out the window and that really shouldn’t be the case! If, like me, you struggle to stay motivated try to make your exercise something you actually enjoy doing – yoga, cycling, dancing, walking the dog, team sports, a group class, swimming…the options are endless! Figure out what works for you and your situation.

man running up steps

Write things down: If you can’t get something off your mind don’t just ruminate on it, get it out of your head. Sometimes you don’t want to share your stresses with a loved one but you still want to get them out. Try keeping a journal, write and write and write until all of those thoughts are out on a piece of paper. I find it much easier to organise myself and find clarity when I can see my thoughts written out in front of me. Maybe that could work for you too? Or even consider writing down all the things that are bothering you and then ripping up the piece of paper – it can be a nice little ‘f*** you!’ to whatever has been bothering you!

person writing

Laugh – There’s a reason people take part in those somewhat bizzare laughter yoga sessions! It’s been claimed that laughter reduces stress, boosts the immune system and even relieves pain. Why not give laughter therapy a go? Watch your favourite comedies, go to a show, do something fun with a friend (bonus points for spending time with a loved one!). Or maybe even check out that laughter yoga!

two women laughing

Spend time with others: Being part of a social circle can help foster a sense of belonging. Social support should never be underestimated, having someone you trust to turn to during difficult times can be invaluable. Most of us would be familiar with the old saying ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’. Often, it’s true but even just spending time friends or family can help you feel better, even if you don’t share. So, grab some friends and go for a pint, get a coffee, go to the cinema or have a night in – whatever suits!

group of friends

Change: If your stress is caused by your lifestyle consider making some changes. Would being more organised help? Could you delegate some duties at home or at work? Do you need to learn to say no sometimes? Do you need to find a way to get more sleep or downtime? Could your diet do with an overhaul? Maybe you need to change a few things. If it’s something really pressing obviously deal with that first, otherwise, start small. You’ll be more likely to stick to changes you make if you take your time and change in small steps. And remember, counselling isn’t just for those experiencing a mental health difficulty like depression or bipolar disorder. It can be for anyone who needs it so if you’re feeling overwhelmed consider some professional help.

signpost

 

How have you reduced stress in your life? Share your tips below! 

How to get a good night’s sleep – Blogtober Day 5

The average person spends roughly one third of their life sleeping.* Why do we have so much difficulty with it considering we do so much of it? Maybe we’re not great at switching off, I know I’m not! Here are my top tips for a good night’s sleep:

Reduce blue light exposure at night – Switch off the gadgets or at least put them away and unless it’s an emergency, do not check your phone if you wake in the middle of the night.

phone charging beside bed

Take time to wind down – It’s likely you’ll struggle to fall asleep if you’re not taking time to unwind from the stresses of your day. For some people practicing mindfulness or meditation works (though caution should be taken for those who have experienced trauma**), for others it’s reading a book , writing a journal, or listening to music. Find the thing that works for you and go with it.

Avoid heavy meals and caffeine late in the evening – Sleeping on a full stomach can lead to indigestion or generally feeling sick and the caffeine will keep you awake^. I love coffee and have some most days but I’ve learned the hard way that I shouldn’t have it after 5pm!

coffee

Make a sleep schedule – Try your best to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Our bodies quite like routine, going to bed and getting up and different times every day deprives our bodies of the chance to get in to a routine.

No naps in the evening – If you need a nap during the day try to make sure it’s before 3pm and no longer than an hour so it doesn’t disrupt your night time sleep schedule.

Go outdoors – Try to get outside every day and exercise while you’re there. There are lots of ways to fit in a little time outdoors so find one that works for you and your situation. Both exercise and natural light exposure in the day will help you sleep^^. Personally, I find that taking the dog out for a short walk helps, sometimes fresh air and a break from my phone/tablet/laptop is all I need!

people outside

Make your bedroom a place that invites sleep – I think it’s unrealistic to say don’t have a tv in your bedroom because so many people already do but try to switch it off a good hour or two before you need to sleep and do something that doesn’t involve a screen. Ideal sleeping conditions are cool, dark and quiet!

If you don’t fall asleep after twenty minutes of lying in bed get up and go to a different room if you can. Do something relaxing but don’t go on your phone or watch tv! When begin to feel sleepy go back to bed. Lying in bed awake for hours on end isn’t healthy and won’t do you any favours!

 

*www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21056174

**http://trauma-recovery.ca/recovery/mindfulness/

^www.sleepeducation.org/news/2013/08/01/sleep-and-caffeine

^^www.sleep.org/articles/exercise-affects-sleep/

 

Do you sometimes find it difficult to sleep? What helps? Share your tips below!