This week I read a super post by Kelly aka Daydreamer Mum which was an A – Z of Self Care. I loved it so much it inspired me to write an A – Z post too. This post focuses on stress as we are just coming to the end of Stress Awareness Week 2018.
A is for Acceptance
Often stress can be caused by feeling frustrated, irritated or impatient with a situation or person. Trying to bring a sense of acceptance to how someone or something is may help reduce stress levels (I know sometimes this is easier said than done!).
B is for Bodily Awareness
A key aspect of mindfulness is about being able to bring your attention to a part of the body – often in the feet. The thinking is that dropping your awareness to the part of the body furthest from the head could help to get us ‘outside our head’. Lots of people, including the MP Tracey Crouch, find it a helpful technique to use before public speaking, if prone to nerves.
C is for Campfire Time
This is not meant literally. It’s an analogy for when, in prehistoric times, hunter gatherers would sit quietly round the fire after their time hunting and gathering. One outcome of this was the lowering of cortisol and adrenalin after the day’s events. We still need ‘campfire time’ after a period of busyness – whether it’s sitting and reading, meditating, writing a journal – all of these activities allow for quiet periods of reflection.
D is for Digital Detox
Some people believe that screens, and smartphones in particular, are the addiction of this decade. Having time away from a screen can help well-being by helping us reconnect with our loved ones in real life and can distance us from the negative aspects of social media which can sometimes add stress to a person’s day.
E is for Exercise
E could also be for endorphins which are released during cardiovascular exercise and we all know these are good for busting stress! Exercise and activity really are great for well-being and don’t have to be too strenuous – a pacey walk can be enough!
F is for Family
Having quality time with family can help reduce stress. Equally there may be times when having a bit of time away from family members can help reduce stress levels too! Just a walk round the block may be all you need to regroup if tensions are rising at home.
G is for Gratitude
Scientific research has shown that when people cultivate a gratitude attitude then their happiness levels can increase by 4 – 19%. Writing down a few simple things that you appreciate from your day – maybe a smile from someone, a kind gesture or noticing some beauty around you can be very helpful. It is also very powerful to tell someone why you are grateful to have them in your life.
H is for Helpers’ High
Volunteering, or even carrying out small random acts of kindness, can give people a boost, also known as a ‘helpers high’. This is thought to alleviate stress.
I is for Inhale
….and exhale, and inhale and exhale. Noticing the breath – the in and the out, the rise and the fall – even if it’s just for a few moments – can be an excellent antidote to a stressful situation. Another tip – to experiment with lengthening the exhalation so it is longer than the inhalation, is said to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. When teaching mindfulness to children and teens I sometimes encourage them to count the length of their typical in-breath that day and then try to breathe out for 4 counts longer than this (the 7/11 breathing exercise) to see if this helps them.
J is for Judge Nobody (including yourself)
Judgement of ourselves and others can be debilitating and feeds stress levels. If you notice you are judging yourself negatively try your best to change your mindset. Better to cultivate curiosity and compassion then feed a negative inner-monologue.
K is for Kindness
Following on from J, just to reiterate – much better to develop a kind inner voice – talk to yourself as you would a friend, than a critical one. Kindness can stop us feeling so stressed.
L is for Learning
Throwing yourself into a hobby or learning a new skill to help broaden experiences is a good idea to help with stress.
M is for Mindfulness
Obviously! There is growing evidence that practicing mindfulness is a very effective way of building emotional resilience and combating stress. Try taking notice of what’s around you in any given moment, without judgement. Try as best you can to live in the present and avoid leaning into the future to reduce stress.
N is for Non-Striving
Build times in your life to just be. No need to strive for anything sometimes.
O is for Outdoors
Fresh air and nature are brilliant stress-busters!
P is for Present
Be in the present moment and stress levels will lessen. Notice when the mind wanders to the past or the future and gently bring it back to now.
Q is for Quotes
Find motivational quotes that raise you up and lift your spirits. Read them often.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King
R is for Rumination
Avoid it. Over-thinking and catastrophising are rarely helpful.
S is for Sleep
Get more of it. Aim for 7 – 8 hours most nights.
T is for Triggers
Be aware of what triggers your stress and try your best not to expose yourself to these people or situations.
U is for Understanding
Understanding your own needs. For instance understanding whether your an introvert or extrovert will help you with self-care. Empathy – attempting to understand someone else’s position on something can relieve stress too.
V is for Viewing Your Thoughts as Mental Events Not Facts
Thoughts are not facts. Beware of the story-telling mind it can lead you to worry and stress.
Keep hydrated. It reduces irritability.
Sometimes just let things be. Stop being a slave to the ‘to do’ list all the time.
Take the lead from young children. Live in awe of the simple things in life. Be playful when possible.
Be zany – whatever that means to you. Dance round the living room. Sing at the top of your lungs in the shower. Tell cheesy jokes. Have a little bit of fun in your day whenever you can.
I hope you find my list helpful.
What are your tips to reduce everyday stress?