Simple steps for reducing stress

In the 21st century it is often hard to avoid feeling stressed. It can stem from a whole host of sources, be it work, a significant life event, or pressure placed on yourself to do more than you are able. Maybe it's a whole host of smaller problems that have built up over time and tipped you to boiling point.

With social media often displaying the highlights of our friends' lives without revealing any of the negatives, it's hard to stop comparing yourself and take stock of all that you have. Start with these simple stress-reducing steps and you may just notice a positive change.

Identify the source of your stress - by working out where the problem lies it's easier to implement stress management strategies. Is it the same situation repeatedly affecting you? Are you doing too much, saying yes more often than you say no? Start by reflecting on the past week and see if there's a pattern.

Reach out to a friend or colleague - whether it's in the form of a cup of tea and a 'no holds barred' vent or a glass of wine and a giggle, turn to someone you can talk to and catch up. It's probably not just you feeling this way, and after all … as your Nan has almost certainly reminded you (more than once) … a problem shared is a problem halved.

Preparation is key - make a list and prioritise. Establish what needs to be done and get the most stress-inducing task out the way first. The rest of the day will feel brighter if you know the worst is behind you.

Mindfully relax in the tub - take half an hour for yourself and bathe mindfully. I'm not suggesting lighting candles and cranking up the Enya (unless that's your thing) but just that you concentrate on the experience and let go of any unwanted niggles. Try to stay in the moment and let your worries wash away. We may not always have complete control over our lives but by embracing the present we can learn to appreciate what we have right now rather than being consumed by situations we can't always change.

Exercise - you've heard it before, but it really is true. Exercise is wonderful at boosting mood and letting off steam. Choose an activity that suits you and (gasp) you might actually enjoy it. Walk, run, cartwheel … dealer's choice, just get sweaty. With all those endorphins coursing through your veins, you may just forget what was bothering you in the first place.

Caroline is a mum, writer and mental health practitioner from Hampshire with a particular interest in health and wellbeing and all things parenting.


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