With everyday commitments, hectic schedules and society’s obsession with constantly being digitally connected, it easy to become immersed in everything around us whilst neglecting our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.
As simplistic as it may be, exposure to fresh air on a daily basis can be an immediate remedy for those that are feeling tense, are in need of some immediate escapism, or simply just want to gather their thoughts. On average, according to scientific studies, we spend around ninety percent of our time indoors.
Spending prolonged periods of time inside in offices or travelling means that we are are more at risk of developing symptoms of irritability, brain fog and becoming tired and demotivated.
Therefore, by embedding short breaks outside in nature whereby there is room to switch-off and unwind, this means that there is space for mental clarity and relaxation.
Undoubtedly, living closer to greener and more rural areas makes walking more pleasurable and accessible, but regardless of the location, even if you are in a bustling city, you might consider strolling across to a park or finding a quiet conservation area to ponder in Thanks to the phytoncides, which are airborne chemicals that are released from plants and trees, these chemicals not only protect other plants and insects but usefully, they also produce a stress-relieving effect. Again, yet another reason to spend more time in the great outdoors!
For all of you animal lovers out there, you might not be aware that spending quality time with your pets is not only a fun activity but it can also be highly therapeutic; animals are renowned for being exceptionally emotionally intuitive and astute which means that they can often pick up on your moods quickly.
Having fun with your pets might be something that you naturally engage with on a daily basis, so it might be pleasing to know that these interactions produce strong and positive chemical influences within your brain, playing with or stroking your pets both increases the stress-reducing hormone Oxytocin, whilst decreasing the stress hormone cortisol.
Also, if you own a dog, the regular exercise that they will need will require you take them on plenty of walks.
This will lead to you releasing plenty of feel-good endorphins and through the release of these chemicals, this will naturally result in the reduction of stress.
With the option of a range of different attractive notebooks and journals available, journaling can be a fun, creative and relying way to release a bombardment of thoughts and feelings.
Journaling can often be referred to as a cathartic process as you can simply allow your feelings to flow from your mind, through your pen and onto the page.
Sometimes, you might not be able to label your emotions and if we feel worked-up it can be difficult to verbalise our exact emotions, this is where putting pen to paper can be a saviour and not only can you release difficult and complex emotions but there is also the possibility that the piece you produce could be poetic or the start of a piece of fiction?
Alternatively, if writing isn’t really down your street, adult colouring books are an easy way to switch off and unwind – especially if you are having a particularly difficult day. Engaging with and selecting the colours and tones whilst gazing out the window in a cafe allows you to zone-out for even ten to fifteen minutes on a lunch break or during a busy weekend.
For many of us that carry-out particularly mentally demanding jobs, it can be particularly difficult to be left overthinking by the end of the day and unaware of stress that physically remains in our bodies.
Yoga consists of maintaining a range of positions, practicing various bodily movements and different breathing exercises.
Collectively, Yoga focuses on connecting both the mind and the body and although there is a level of concentration and self-control required, the exercises develop the counter-stress response and the parasympathetic nervous system, which increases rest and rejuvenation throughout the body.
Yoga is definitely a great option as eighty-percent of people reported that it helped with stress and one of the most appealing aspects of yoga is its flexibility, it can be carried out during either your morning or your evening routine and in a range of places.
Across the internet there is also a range of online clips and videos but why not consider a class and alleviate your stress even more by mingling with new friends?
Previously, the benefits of exposing yourself to the outdoors were briefly mentioned, but committing yourself to a new sport, exercise or hobby should not be overlooked as a tonic to stress.
Running is an especially beneficial exercise and the fact that it can be done either independently or in a running group, means that there is the freedom to alternate between the two based on how you are feeling.
Whether you are relatively fit and feel that ‘running’ sounds like a slightly aggressive term, light jogging has indisputable benefits too, temporarily, going for a jog can help you to take your mind of any problems or intense emotions, but in the long run, it also allows you to build resiliency – which is useful when you are facing the initial problems that lead to the onset of stress!
By sticking to a regime that you set in place for yourself, this can also increase your self-confidence and be a beneficial tool to have in place during challenging times.
By running alone, or as a member of a running club, you are able to test yourself in healthy ways and become aware of your ability to push yourself and reach targets.
Through applying this same tenacity into your everyday life, difficult problems will seem more doable and there will also be the enjoyment of the release of positive highs and endorphin releases which will only leave you craving more exercise.
The endless benefits of music are recognized within the domains of therapy, education and simply as hobbies but do we possess a full awareness of how music can truly impact our well-being?
Music can be expressed in such an abundance of ways and beyond formal training, the opportunity to physically, emotionally and spiritually engage with the range of materials from drum-sticks and ivory keys to tambourines and the reeds of a clarinet can provide a true sense of freedom and liberation.
Our lives can sometimes seem regimented and highly structured and the opportunity for expression can sometimes feel limited. Experimenting with a new instrument or listening to a breadth of new sounds cannot only be exciting, but it can also be an incredible outlet for a whirlwind of stressful emotions.
According to recent research, it has been proven that adults who play an instrument are more likely to have reduced blood pressure and stress levels. Moreover, it was also revealed that creating music can also increase our immune responses and fight-off viruses.
With such a range of instruments on offer, perhaps dabble in the collection of sounds and see which is the best ht for you?
With such a range of recipes available and the option of fresh food and delicacies from a farmer’s market or by popping down to your nearest supermarket, the opportunities for making a healthy and enjoyable meal are abundant.
The entire process of preparing a meal, from purchasing the food, chopping, cutting and slicing the food is recognised as being extremely relaxing and calming.
By immersing yourself in the entire process it allows you to not only enjoy the activity but also appreciate the very aspect of it too, you can focus on the smells and aromas; the textures and colours of the food; along with the sounds of the cutlery and appliances.
Taking the time to appreciate every aspect of the activity means that it allows the opportunity for you to have an outlet and redirect yourself from overpowering thoughts or any tension.
Baking is also considered to be an exceptional stress-reliever and with the opportunity to not only focus on the instructions and ensuring that you have the correct ingredients, but there is also so much scope to be highly creative and let-off steam!
There is also the opportunity for an act of kindness and altruism too as you could bake for friends and family or even offer them to a new neighbour or donate to a local event?
When we already have enough on our plate, it might seem counterintuitive to go and engage in even more events; however, demonstrating small acts of kindness can not only allow us to reach out and gain a larger perspective about other people’s lives, but giving and helping others can increase social engagement, allow us to put our skills into practice and also gain confidence.
There is always a high demand for volunteers across large charities but local charities are also often in demand of new volunteers which can be a superb way to build relationships in your community.
The contact and interaction that you develop can lead to better psychological well-being and will, therefore, reduce stress.
Furthermore, by channeling our minds into a specific activity or sharing a skill can really help us focus our minds and temporarily step away from ruminating over problems and issues.
Dependent upon the amount of time that you have available, it is recommended that you consider whether you want to attend one-off events or sign-up to something more regularly. Scheduling the events it could also provide you with something to look ahead to.
An occasional coffee with a friend can be a real treat but being overly-reliant on your caffeine fix and over-consumption can lead to severe sleeping problems and even insomnia; plus, caffeine can also send cortisol – the stress hormone – levels rocketing which can result in prolonged health such issues as weight gain and even heart problems.
It is common knowledge that coffee can provide a quick burst of energy that you might need to get the day started, but falling into this habit can result in adrenaline spikes and falls and overall, a rather dysregulated mood and an agitated state. There can also be unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, dizziness and muscle pain which only contribute to a negative state of well-being.
Like most things, however, small amounts of caffeine have been proven to boost our moods and a couple of cups a day can even contribute to reducing cancer In order to strike the balance, perhaps alternate between drinking healthy options such as water and green tea whilst monitoring your coffee intake.
Commonly, many people enjoy a refreshing glass of wine with their dinner or whilst curled up on the coach during an evening. Known for its antioxidant qualities and calming effects, a one-off drink can be a pleasant option.
Nevertheless, as enjoyable as a social glass of wine might be, over-consumption of any type of alcohol can lead to detrimental problems and despite the temporary anxiety and stress relief, in the long-term, using alcohol as a coping mechanism is not advisable.
Research highlights how alcohol can take both a psychological and physiological toll on the body and as a sedative, it may cause people to temporarily block out their problems and consequently go on and create a snowball effect throughout their lives – later having only more stressful issues to contend with!
It is important to remember that gender, personality traits and predispositions can mean that everyone has different limitations and responses to alcohol can vary; however, developing other coping mechanisms to stress such as meditation, mindfulness, engaging in exercise and other strategies will reduce dependency or further health risks.