Mindfulness and relaxation
Life is stressful!
Now more so than ever perhaps.
Not all of us have good ways of counteracting the stress. Here are our top tips on how to think about this.
Tune in to feelings of stress
We're often not good at that. Start to notice when you're getting stressed and overwhelmed. Do you get short-tempered? Over-tired? Do you feel physically tense? Or get headaches or abdominal upset? Does your sleep suffer? Start to notice this more often and you can do something about it.
Taking some time out from stressful activities and thinking
This is very valuable and we don't do it often enough. Firstly - if our brain is occupied doing something we can't be ruminating (overthinking) and the brain and body will start to calm down. Secondly the hobby itself might be calming and soothing. Think of knitting, woodworking, doing a puzzle. Anything soothing and repetitive.
Counteract the stress response
Stress activates our stress response (obv). The short term stress response is the sympathetic (adrenaline) response. We can counteract this in a couple of ways. One is by directly activating the opposite system (parasympathetic). We can do this simply by taking a few minutes to breathe slowly and deeply - all the way into your lungs. This slows the heart rate and brings down the stress activity. The other way is through activating our soothing compassionate system. By either soothing ourself or being close to a loved one. Think of how you feel during a hug or after a massage.
Exercise actually also directly counteracts the body's stress response. Both in the moment - so you might feel better after a run, swim, or cycle - but also generally, in the background. So if you exercise regularly you will have a lower stress response.
You can practice some of these things together by doing mindfulness practice. Mindfulness meditation trains you to bring your attention where you want it - not where your stressed brain wants it. We have a short guided breathing mindfulness from Dr Iain here: Click Here.