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A Few Helpful Ways To De-Stress That May Surprise You

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Yesterday Dan and I headed to Purl for a two hour cocktail making masterclass. As we sat and chatted to the mixologist, it was so nice winding down and seeing Daniel relax. It got me thinking. It’s so easy to let stress hijack your life. Life can sometimes be a constant fire-fighting session of prioritising and stressing over applying a work/life balance. Commuting, night school, looking for a new home, writing a blog, trying to squeeze in visits back to Wales to visit my family all on top of working full time… Phew! 

Apparently though, a small amount of stress is good for us. Personally, I’m still a little unconvinced. Taking on too much can cause confusion, frustration and head-aches and even I can’t remember the last time I was able to turn my head properly without feeling strain and aches in my shoulders. Uggh! Long term, this can cause severe damage to your health so it’s absolutely essential to find ways to help deal with stress. There is light at the end of the tunnel though and some of these things definitely go a way to helping me relax…

According to helpguide.org, there are various signs and symptoms of stress

Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms

Cognitive Symptoms

Emotional Symptoms

  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying
  • Moodiness
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Agitation, inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sense of loneliness and isolation
  • Depression or general unhappiness

Physical Symptoms

Behavioural Symptoms

  • Aches and pains

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds
  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

1. Sleep

Try and get eight hours a night with an uninterrupted, dark space. Invest in good bedding and thick curtains and keep your bedroom a place of calm. My bedroom is completely white – from the furniture to the floor to create a nice calming canvas.

2. Hydrate

Water is essential not only for basic human functioning but also to help the nervous system work and help balance chemicals which relax the brain.

3. Walking

For those lucky enough to be able to go on country walks, you’ll know the benefits of twenty minutes outdoors feeling the grass on your shoe and the amazing natural views. If like me you’re in the busy city of London and a walk to Hampstead Heath involves Barbour jacket and Hunter wellies, then so be it. Get outside.

4. Watch

A funny video – I love YouTube ‘S**t Fashion Girls Say

5. Lose yourself

In a box set… I’m loving The Real Housewives of New York – Season 5 is so funny!

6. Catch up

With your boyfriend or friends… have them over for coffee or a juice or girls night. 

7. Call

Your family. Hearing a familiar voice is so much better than a text. My sister and I try and call each other as much as possible. Now that she’s got a little baby, it’s an opportunity to bombard her even more.

8. Turn off

Your phone Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc. Despite the whole immediacy of modern social media, don’t forget that you don’t have to bypass your real life  does not mean that you have to be bound to your mobile.

9. Read

A good book… I’m loving ‘Mrs Hemmingway’, set in the dazzling sunshine in the South of France, 1926. Choosing a book that is an escapism is important. My life is spent devouring fashion websites and magazines, not to mention blogs and press releases so it’s nice to be able to throw myself into another world.

10. Try Yoga or Pilates

Gentle exercise which also calms the mind. Hundreds of years worth of teaching means you have to at least try it for ten minutes.

11. Exercise

Need I say more?

12. Try knitting

Don’t know how? What are you waiting for? I was taught by my mother and grandmother when I was very little (cue endless hand made Barbie dresses and toilet roll holders) and it’s something you never forget. It did (briefly) come back into fashion recently but it’s worth having a go. Rather therapeutic.

13. Listen

To music. According to Psych Central, music has a unique link to our emotions, so it can be an extremely effective stress management tool. Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies – particularly slow, quiet classical music. We have a piano and it’s great listening to Daniel play.

14. Get a plant

Nurturing something creates the perfect distraction to stress. We have a few plants in our house and many chilli plants – all of which I’m usually over watering and killing.

15. Get a pet

Or borrow someone else’s. It’s already proven that dogs can help people with depression, anxiety, and stress. When we had our little bunny, she did bring fun and affection into our lives but did you know that pets also come with some pretty powerful mental and physical health benefits? Pets are known to ease loneliness, and their playful behaviour can bring joy and happiness to any household. 

16. Breathing exercises

Three, Two, One, One, Two, Three… 

17. Kiss

Spontaneous kissing helps you forget your worries and let’s you be in the moment. Kissing is known to help with stress. It lowers blood pressure, increases oxytocin and decreases cortisol stress hormones. Ultimately it also increases Serotonin too meaning kissing can lower anxiety and can even have similar benefits to meditation.

18. Take a bath

My all time favourite past time. Lighting a candle or burning some oil, I love to fill the bath with bubbles and add a little pillow for my head. A hair and face mask doesn’t hurt and low lighting also helps. 

19. Burn some oils

Floral lavender or warm, woody scent of Sandalwood is also great just before bed.

20. Pressure

Using your fingers, apply pressure between the second and third knuckle (pinching). This is an old Yoga technique which is used to release stress and endorse happiness.

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