Feeling stressed or anxious? Then you’re not alone. In the UK, according to a new survey from the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of people have at some point felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. In the US, that figure is slightly higher with 79% of Americans who feel stress sometimes or frequently during their day.
The most common causes of stress involve work pressure, lack of time, financial stress, children, health, relationships, and political climate.
Stress will make you feel anxious, it also causes you a number of physical health problems.
Given the potential impacts of prolonged stress, learning ways of managing, reducing, and preventing stress can be important tools for mental and physical health and wellbeing.
1. Spend More Time Gardening
Researchers have shown that spending time in your garden will boost your mood and lower your stress and anxiety. By spending half an hour a week tending to plants or vegetables in your garden can reduce feelings of tension and fatigue, leaving people less prone to anger and depression.
When you’re feeling stressed and looking for something to get you out of bed in the morning, head to your garden and spend some time tending to your plants.
If you don’t have an outside garden think about creating a mini herb garden for your kitchen or balcony.
2. Take up Yoga
Yoga is great for improving flexibility and strengthening our core. But it is also fantastic for inducing feelings of calm and improving your heart health if you do it regularly. By spending 15 minutes a day, you could reduce your blood pressure by as much as 10%.
In a recent study by Canadian researchers, they found that, among people being treated for high blood pressure, those who spent 15 minutes five time a week in quiet relaxation, saw no improvement to their condition. However, those who stretched for the same time experienced a 5% drop in blood pressure, and those who practised deep breathing saw a 7% drop.
3. Celebrate Small Wins
When we pursue our goals and view our daily successes, we have two options:
Look at how far you’ve come, what you’ve achieved and celebrated success every day (Growth Mindset)
Look at how far away you are from the goals you have in life and feel more anxious and stressed because you haven’t achieved what you want (Gap Mindset)
With the Growth Mindset, you will always be making progress, your confidence and capabilities will grow every day.
Rather than worrying about doing everything perfectly and comparing yourself to others, a major source of stress and anxiety, you are focused on staying on the path and daily growth.
At the end of every day, write down 3 things that you achieved that day. It could be big or small. The point is that you made progress, even if it was just a little step.
4. Just Breathe
A powerful way to stay centred and to counteract the physical effects of anxiety and stress is to focus on your breathing.
If your breathing becomes shallow and chest-centred, then breathing deeply or “belly breathing’ can help by lowering cortisol and signalling to your nervous system to rest.
5. Exercise Regularly
Maintaining a regular exercise plan can provide relief for many of the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Exercise can enhance our mood, increase energy levels, give us goals to focus on, improve motivation, challenge us and improve the quality of our sleep. Exercise allows our muscles to move, it encourages blood flow and gets us breathing a lot deeper.
The point is to get your body moving and find an exercise activity that works for you. This may be doing something by yourself, in a room of people or part of a team. Pick something that fits you.
6. Practice Daily Intentions
The art of practising daily intentions can be a powerful way of managing and reducing stress. It can be as simple as stating what you want to happen that day or writing down at the start of each day what you feel grateful for.
I write down 3 things I’m grateful for as well as my weekly and 90-day goals. I share these with others to gather support and stay positive.
Gratitude brings together positive emotions like joy, contentment and hope and gives your mind a positive boost.
7. Find Someone to Talk To
When there are lots of stresses and anxieties in your life, one of the best things you can do is reach out and talk with someone.
When you share your concerns or feelings with someone, it can help relieve some of the stress or anxiety you feel.
It starts with choosing someone you can trust, someone who gets you and can validate you.
So, call a trusted friend, family member, colleague or mentor and just talk.
You can also create a group of people going through similar feelings of stress or anxiety. Just like with a Mastermind group for business owners comes together to collaborate, learn and support each other, explore creating a similar group.
8. Read More
When was the last time you sat alone with a good book?
Reading is one of those activities that we do on our own and can help us escape from the daily stresses of life.
This could be a book to help you increase your wisdom, or learn something new, or a piece of fiction to transport you away from daily anxieties and stresses.
In addition to the learning benefits, reading also improves the connectivity between our brain cells, lowering the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.