April is Stress Awareness Month.
Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.
Here are ten ways to help you better manage your stress levels, increase your mood and improve your mental wellness.
You can access more via my YouTube channel here.
Spend time in nature
Step outside and unplug.
Notice the smells, the sights, the beauty, and how it makes you feel. If you can, kick off your shoes and connect your feet with the earth. Recharging in the natural beauty around us keeps us grounded and connected.
Having that change of environment, even for a short period of time can boost your mood and mindset, leaving you wanting more! Even having a dance in the rain will release endorphins and lift you higher.
Exercise / Movement
Exercise releases feel good endorphins in the brain, boosting mood and mindset.
This can and will look differently for everyone. The important thing here is to move the body and release trapped energy and tension being stored.
Maybe go for a short walk, take a bike ride, go swimming, running, walk the dog, or try some seated upper or lower body stretches.
When we worry less about mobility and ability and more about the impact even just a little movement is having, things begin to feel more positive.
This is a great way to manage the symptoms of stress.
As an example, try mindfully becoming aware of your breathing. Slowing it down to a steady pace and noticing your breaths journey.
Sit comfortably and close your eyes if you feel comfortable. Start to Notice each inhale and exhale as it enters and exits your body, notice how that breath travels around your body. Notice how your body and your mind are reacting to that breath, and then notice how that breath exits your body. Continue to sit restfully for a moment.
This is having mindful awareness.
Getting enough sleep is key to optimal health and wellness.
If you are not in a healthy sleep routine you could try reducing screen time before bed, or not drinking caffeine a few hours before bed.
Setting a non negotiable sleep routine can make a huge difference when it comes to managing stress.
What would this routine look like for you? Maybe removing electrical devices from the bedroom, having an earthing mat on the bed, or using a seasonal lamp?
Tap into your creativity
What do you enjoy? What lights you up and brings you joy?
What is it that gets your creative juices flowing?
This could look something like sketching, painting, cooking, photography.
Choosing something creative is an excellent way of getting out of your head and into your heart.
If you are struggling, maybe take up a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try? Maybe learning an instrument or growing your own vegetables for example.
In my opinion, meditation is one of the quickest way to reduce stress levels.
As little as 10 – 20 minutes per day can see a positive effect on mood, an increase in clarity, and an overall sense of lightness and ease.
When you cant control the things going on around you, you can control what’s going on within you. The aim with meditation is to reduce reactions and move towards response, filtering out the external noise and moving the focus within.
A healthy, balanced diet can help to boost your mood. Including more fruit and vegetables, and possibly reducing meat consumption, as this can make you feel heavy and sluggish, as digestion takes longer.
Also drinking enough water and staying hydrated is key. All of our organs, including the brain, need water to function properly. If you are suffering with dehydration your body isn’t running well, which can lead to a heightened state of stress on organs and muscles etc.
Step away from the busy
Take a break where you can. The length of time isn’t important, but a change of environment is.
Maybe visit somewhere new? You can take an afternoon for yourself; maybe coffee with friends, or a weekend away? This will look different for everyone.
Taking a break away from a stressful situation can help you to recharge, prioritise and gain perspective.
Yoga promotes relaxation, reduces stress and boosts mood.
Flexibility doesn’t need to be an issue. Yoga is simply a moving meditation. Mindfully connecting your breath and body.
Try opting for a slower restorative practice rather than a fast paced flow.
My 15 minute Yoga stretch and flow can be a great place to start.
Reduce alcohol intake
Alcohol disrupts the delicate balance of chemicals and processes in your brain, affecting your thoughts, feelings and actions.
Try reducing the amount you drink on an evening out, or swapping out alcohol for a soft drink alternative. Taking an alcohol break has shown to have a huge impact on not just mental wellness but physical health too.
Be kind to yourself
Have kindness and compassion for your humanness.
Remember to show yourself the same love and care you show to others. You are enough just as you are.
We so often forget to fill our own cup before sharing with others. Often running on ’empty’ and hardly ever taking our own advice.
And finally, Get some support.
If you are worried about the affects stress may be having on your mental wellness don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Speak to someone you trust or arrange a chat with your local GP who can point you in the direction of the right support
Related articles connected to stress include The role the Vagus nerve plays in stress related illness. and 10 Mental Health Benefits of a consistent Meditation Practice