5 Self-Care Tips To Reduce Stress
April is Stress Awareness Month, so I wanted to share some of my favourite self-care tips to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
What is stress?
Let's start with what stress is - stress is often described as the body's reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. It's very common, and whilst a small level of pressure can be motivating to help us achieve things in our daily life, too much stress can affect our mood, our body and our relationships - especially when it feels out of our control (global pandemic anyone?!).
Stress can make us feel anxious and irritable, and affect our self-esteem. Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period of time can also lead to a feeling of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, often called burnout. The good news is, there are steps we can take to help redress the balance and find a little more calm.
1. Recognise when stress is a problem
It’s important to connect the physical and emotional signs you’re experiencing to the pressures you are faced with. Don’t ignore physical warning signs such as tense muscles, tiredness or headaches - these can be warning signs that we’re taking on too much.
Look at what might be causing you stress - are these things within your control? If you’re taking on too much, ask for help and say no to things (I know this can be hard, particularly if you’re a people pleaser - but protecting your mental health will ensure you can continue to help others in the future rather than burning yourself out).
If the things causing you stress are out of your control, accept that this is the case. Control what is controllable, and put in place a self-care routine to help you better cope with those uncontrollable stressors.
2. Move Your Body
Exercising can help improve the way we feel and help to reduce stress. Cardio activities such as running or cycling can really help to get the blood pumping, reduce adrenaline and cortisol (the body’s stress hormones), and stimulate the production of endorphins which reduce stress.
3. Focus on the Good
Gratitude can be a powerful tool against stress - take time to focus on the good things in your life. Each day, consider what went well and try to list 3 things you're thankful for - these daily positives will soon build up, and no matter how small the good things may seem, shifting your mindset towards the positives in our lives can help to create a little more balance.
4. Stretch It Out
Yoga is my go-to activity to support both physical and mental health. There are a lot of techniques involved in yoga which help to decrease stress, such as breathing exercises, stretching and gentle movement. And you don’t need hours and hours to feel the benefits - you could start with this 15 minute flow to wake up your entire body and de-stress the mind:
Looking to build your yoga practice? Take a look at our 7 Day Yoga Course.
5. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Me Time
When we’re at our busiest, it can often be those little acts of self-care that slip down the priority list - but it’s times like this when self-care is most important. Light a candle and take some screen-free time, have a soak in the bath, read a chapter of your book, spend time in the garden, take a walk in the fresh air - whatever self-care means to you, carve out time from your day every day, just for you.
If you’ve been experiencing stress for a long time or it feels too overwhelming, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Your GP is a great place to start, and they can explore options and support that are tailored to you.