Stress impacts us in ways that we don’t often think about; it causes headaches, sleeplessness and mood swings. But, they’re just the things that you notice. Did you know that stress can also change the way you breathe, increase your blood pressure and even slow down your digestion?
And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, research shows that there could be many more long term effects on our health and wellbeing. While we shouldn’t strive to eliminate all stress from our lives, we can certainly ease some of it.
Much of the stress we feel is caused by our reaction to a situation - rather than the situation itself. So, it can be helpful to arm ourselves with a few safeguards; practices that we can use during stressful times that change the way we feel.
It’s a powerful approach to tackling stress that, with practice, can make a world of difference to how you feel in all types of challenging situations. Here are a few things that work wonders for me, I hope that you find them helpful…
CONNECT WITH YOUR BREATH
Our breath is a deeply calming force in our lives and can easily be used in any situation to help ground our emotions and maintain a sense of control. When you feel the symptoms of stress rising; increased heart rate, temperature or tension then turn your attention to your breath. Pause for a moment and breathe slowly through your nose and down into your belly - pause for a second - and then release it slowly through your nose. Do this until you feel yourself feeling calmer...sometimes it can take just a few breaths to notice a difference.
I’ve been working with essential oils for seventeen years and use them at home to support all of my wellness practices. You can enjoy them in the evenings by lighting a natural soy wax aromatherapy candle or maybe diffuse them during your workday. Essential oils have a wealth of natural properties from helping you create a haven of calm for your family, boosting creativity while you work or simply helping you relax after a busy day. Experiment with different oil; try sweet orange essential oil to raise your mood, patchouli essential oil to help focus your mind and rosemary to increase clarity and concentration.
For an aromatherapy boost throughout your day, take a look at our pulse point oils; they’re easy to use on the move and deliver a dose of natural therapeutic essential oils whenever you need them.
Like most of us, you’re probably harder on yourself than you would ever be on anyone else? Try practising a little self-compassion and give yourself the grace that you would give someone else. If you’re not used to showing yourself that level of kindness then it can feel challenging at first but it gets easier with time...here are a few more tips for cultivating kindness
Stress levels usually increase when life gets busy, and in turn, self-care takes a back seat. But, it’s the time when you need it most. It reminds me of one of the zen proverbs “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour”
When we think we’re too busy, that’s when we need to take more care of ourselves. Real self-care isn’t something that we do every once in a while, it’s found in those small daily actions that we take; choosing to eat healthy, taking time to be present, nourishing our souls with meditation or prayer...the list goes on. It’s those small conscious moments that make a world of difference to how we feel and show up in our lives.
Practising yoga has taught me more than I can put into words and I know that my days wouldn’t be the same without it. I start every day on my mat, most days I enjoy a full class but other days I just enjoy my favourite poses. Either way, I finish feeling grounded and clear about my intentions for the day ahead. Whether it’s something that you’ve tried before or would love to get started I encourage you to create the time you need. Try starting with a few simple poses every day and then build up to a short beginners class - I’m sure you’ll love it.
Giving yourself permission to focus on one task at a time can reduce a sense of overwhelm and in turn lower your stress levels. You may think that multi-tasking is the way to get everything done but I promise that once you’ve experienced the joy of uninterrupted focus; taking one task at a time, you’ll soon change your mind. After years of divided focus, this can take some time to put into practice. Don’t worry if distractions derail your efforts at first, simply bring your attention back to where you need it and enjoy the peace that mindfully focusing brings.
Please don’t let reducing stress be another thing on your ‘should do’ list and add more pressure into your days. Start wherever you are by choosing one small thing that will help to keep your stress levels manageable for now. Remember to be gentle with yourself and take it one step at a time.
AUTHOR: LEANNA DOOLIN
Co – Founder of holistic skincare brand, Pure Thoughts and advocate for women finding pause in their day to breathe deeply, give thanks and reconnect to what matters. Loves early mornings, dogs and books that you can’t put down.