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How to Cope with the Stress of Daily Life

Stress is part of life – whether it be from minor challenges to major crises, and while you can't always control your circumstances, you can control how you respond to them. When stress becomes overwhelming, it can take a toll on your well-being. That's why it's important to have effective stress relievers that can calm your mind and your body.

In recent years, being busy has become the rule rather than the exception for many people. You feel busy and stressed and don't have a lot of time to build stress relief into your schedule, so you may end up feeling tired and overwhelmed and plagued by chronic stress. A vicious circle!

Stress relief is so important, and this is particularly true for busy people. However, those of us who are most busy may feel least able to take on new habits. We may be concerned with the time that would be required to learn about a new hobby or starting up a boring exercise routine. There would be a considerable energy investment involved in many habits as well.

Given the importance of stress management habits, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your stress levels is to find some simple and quick ones to practice, and follow through on making them a regular part of your life. The best short-term strategies can be performed anywhere, take very little practice to master, can provide immediate relief and are FREE!

The following are ways to get more energy, relieve stress, and find extra time in your day:-

Relaxation - If you feel overwhelmed by stress during the day, a busy schedule may prevent you from being able to do what relaxes you the most, whatever that may be. However, there are some quick ways to feel better without taking hours you don't have to do so.

Breathing - Stress relief strategies such as breathing exercises can help you to turn off your body's stress reaction so you put a halt to chronic stress and can get back to your busy life. Just focusing on your breath or changing the way you breathe can make a big difference to your overall stress level. Breathing techniques can calm your body and your brain in just a few minutes. There are lots of videos on YouTube. As breathing exercises can be key to reducing your stress, try different techniques. A simple one is to :-Breathe in through your nose and watch your stomach fill with air. Count slowly to three as you inhale. Hold for one second and then slowly breathe out through your nose as you count to three again. Another is to :-Breathe in through your nose and imagine that you're inhaling peaceful, calm air. Imagine that air spreading throughout your body. As you exhale, imagine that you're breathing out stress and tension.

Guided Imagery - Take a short break in your mind. Imagine yourself being in your "happy place"— picturing yourself sitting on a beach, listening to the waves, smelling the ocean, and feeling the warm sand underneath you. Guided imagery can be done with a recording where you listen to someone walk you through a peaceful scene. Or, once you know how to do it yourself, you can practice guided imagery on your own. Simply close your eyes for a minute and walk yourself through a peaceful scene. Think about all the sensory experiences you'd engage in and allow yourself to feel as though you're really there, cocktail in hand, toes in the sea. After a few minutes, open your eyes and return to the present moment.

Reduce Caffeine - If you're one to grab a cup of coffee or can of cola when you need a little extra energy, you may be making yourself more tired in the long run! This is partially because caffeine can keep you from experiencing restful sleep at night, creating a cycle of chronic sleep deprivation.

Sleep - When your schedule's busy, often sleep is the first thing to be cut back. This can leave you feeling lethargic and lead to errors that take more time out of your day to correct.

Meditation and Mindfulness – This can bring short-term stress relief as well as lasting stress management benefits. There are many different forms of meditation to try–each one is unique and brings its own appeal. You might develop a mantra that you repeat in your mind as you take slow deep breaths. Or, you might take a few minutes to practice mindfulness, which involves being in the moment. Simply pay attention to what you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. When you are focused on the here and now, you won't be able to worry about something that has already happened or something that might in the future. Meditation and mindfulness take practice, but it can make a big difference in your overall stress level.

Exercise – A little exercise will actually leave you more energized. While busy people have a hard time fitting exercise into the schedule, there are some tricks that can help you get the exercise you need without spending hours at the gym, such as walking your dog, a quick walk during your lunch break, or breaking up exercise into smaller chunks. So whether you just need to take a stroll around the office to get a break or go for a walk in the park, walking is a simple effective way to rejuvenate your mind and body.

Positive Outlook - Much of your experience of stress hinges on your attitude and what you tell yourself about your situation. View stress as a 'challenge' rather than a threat.

Grab a Hug - Physical touch can do a lot to relieve your stress. Hugging a loved one can be especially beneficial. When you hug someone, oxytocin (also known as the "cuddle hormone") is released. Oxytocin is associated with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress, reducing blood pressure. It reduces the stress hormone norepinephrine and can produce a sense of relaxation.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation - Relax all the muscles in your body, group by group. Start with a few deep breaths, practice tightening and relaxing each muscle group, starting with your forehead and moving down to your toes. Recognize tension and tightness in your muscles and you'll be able to relax more easily. Each time you practice you’ll experience a feeling of relaxation sweeping through your body.

Learn to say NO - People have different reasons for being busy, but many people find themselves busy no matter what their circumstances because they have trouble saying no to other people's demands on their time. There are things that you can do to start saying NO to other people's requests or demands on your time. Telling people you don't have time or giving yourself time to think before you say Yes are two ways to avoid it. Learning to say No allows you to say yes to other things, including yes to yourself and yes to finding time for stress management techniques.

Keep your very own ‘Stress Toolkit’ to hand so you can pick a strategy that works for you depending on the situation. For some integrative counselling sessions, please visit Wellness&Wellbeing Karen E Jones Counsellor (Facebook page) or e-mail

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