Recently I was invited to be on the West Herts Drivetime show on Radio Verulam with Danny Smith to discuss stress and ways to manage it. If you missed it, here it is again.
We all have varying degrees of stress in our lives. Some stress is good, it keeps us motivated, it gets things done and it keeps us on our toes. However as we also know, prolonged stress is not good. It can make us ill.
Stress comes under many guises, it can be the day to day stress of being a parent, the demands of a stressful job, financial strain, ill health or it could be all of the above, take your pick. These can be described as everyday underlying stresses. Big stresses in the form of redundancy, unemployment, bereavements or divorce are problems that sadly many have to deal with. Unfortunately, all these things are a part and parcel of the package we call life. Stress, it would appear is just one of those things we have to deal with, or do we?
The problem with stress is when we don’t recognise it and mask it with things such as food, alcohol or cigarettes which can then lead to secondary problems such as overeating or addictions. It is widely reported that up to 90% of illnesses have their roots in stress. Conditions such as anxiety and depression, skin complaints headaches, insomnia and stomach problems often have stress at the core. If left unchecked, what can start off as a minor complaint can manifest into something more serious.
It is impossible to eliminate stress from your life (sadly), however once the signs are recognised, it is possible to reduce the symptoms, one of the most effective ways to reduce the physical impact of stress on your body is to relax, really relax. For me relaxation is not just about relaxing the body, but it is about relaxing the mind and stopping the mental chatter that can consume us, ie the worrisome thoughts. My favourite way to relax is through meditation. Some people find the word meditation a bit off putting and it can conjure up an image of chanting ohms in a forest somewhere – lovely but not very practical.
My Beginners Guide to Starting Meditation
1.When faced with a stressful situation, before reacting, pause and just take some deep breaths for one minute. Inhaling through the nose and out through the mouth. This one minute can bring down your heart rate and allow you to focus and gain clarity on the situation.
2. Meditation could be a walk in nature where you can just let your mind drift into a daydream, focus on your steps, take in your surroundings, be present and breath deeply.
3. Find a quiet time and place, either before everyone else is up or before you go to bed. (or anytime you can grab a few minutes really)
4. To begin with just limit yourself to five minutes, just focusing on the inhalation and exhalation of your breath. If you find thoughts popping into your head, don’t worry and take your attention back to your breath.
5. Treatments such as Reflexology or Reiki are ideal to relax your body and mind. Combined with regular meditation, you will soon find that stress is managed much more effectively and the benefits to your health and well being will be enormous.
How did you relax today?