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Yesterday in the UK was National Stress Awareness Day, and do you know where the UK falls in top Europe charts for work-life balance? Not in the top 10 that’s for sure. I may no longer live in the UK, having opted for some of the Meditteranean good life to bring my stress levels down, but I’m no stranger to stress. I have struggled with generalised anxiety disorder for a long time. It’s now mostly under control, just occasional moments of intense impending doom, but I do seem to feel stress more keenly than others. So, if you’re anything like me and could use a little de-stressing, here are some simple tips I use on myself to find a little bit of calm.

1. Exercise

Ha. You didn’t really think that wasn’t going to be on today’s list did you? In fact, exercising is my number one stress buster. It must be all the happy endorphins flooding my system. That and to me, the gym really is therapy. It’s my quiet time, on my own with the weights giving it my all. And no one can take that away from me. So, if you’re feeling stressed make time for yourself and head to the gym or go for a run (I love an outdoors run for blowing the tangled cobwebs out of my head). When you’re stressed you might feel you don’t have time for it, but the time you make will be so worth it and you’ll feel a hell of a lot better after.

 

2. Meditate

Take some time to give your racing head a rest. Ok, so you don’t have to full-on meditate if it’s not for you, but there are a tonne of mindfulness apps out there (Headspace particularly springs to mind) that really do help calm you down in as little as 10 minutes. And again, if you’re anything like me, stress leads to insomnia, which leads to tiredness, which leads to more stress. So when I’m feeling overwhelmed and can’t sleep I listen to sleep meditations. I’m particularly loving Tracks To Relax on Apple Podcasts at the moment. They’re so soothing and use amazing visualisations…I don’t think I’ve actually made it through a whole one without drifting off!

3. Cuddle An Animal

Snuggling with furry critters helps reduce stress and that’s a fact. While I write this I have my dog, Percy Pug snuggled up on my lap (making typing a little tricky actually with his head resting on my arm) and he’s so warm and breathing so deeply it’s impossible not to feel chilled out. Research has actually shown that stroking dogs and cats lowers blood pressure (goodbye stress-related racing heart) – not only that though, just thinking about your fur baby can lower your blood pressure! So if you don’t have a pet, just think about snuggling one and you’re going to feel better already. Add in the fact they’re great company, fantastic listeners and are great at getting you out the house for a good, head-clearing stroll and animals are obviously the way.

 

4. Eat Healthy Food

There’s something about stress that breaks down our hard fought for willpower and makes us reach for the foods we know don’t fit our goals. But how many times have you given in to that urge when stressed and just felt, well, worse? I know that I’m a stress binger and it never makes me feel any better about myself. So instead, I make sure I always have healthy but delicious options in the fridge to keep me on track even when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Think lots of greens, some oily fish for brain food, and plenty of rice and sweet potato for energy-giving carbs.

5. Do Something You Enjoy

Seems obvious right? But we often overlook the simple pleasures in life when our minds are going at a hundred miles an hour. Dedicate some time to yourself and just do something you really enjoy. For me, it’s curling up with a good book or watching a movie after a long, relaxing bubble bath. There’s no wrong choice here, it’s personal to you.

There you have it. It may only be five little things you can do to help manage your stress, but it’s a definite start. Need help with the exercise and diet side of things? Why not check out BarBelles Online Coaching and get in touch. I’m here when you need me!