Always busy? Stressed? Read these 5 tips to help you stress-less!

In this fast-paced, information driven society we live in, feeling stressed has almost become a badge of honour to wear, something to be proud of; along with being crazy busy, awesome at multitasking and a self-professed perfectionist. Our culture has conditioned us to, and rewarded us for, thinking more and feeling less, doing more and being less. We are becoming increasingly disconnected with ourselves and with others which is making us “spin the wheel” faster and feel more alone than ever before.

If being stressed, anxious and overwhelmed is no longer working for you; here are 5 tips that if practiced daily, will help take you from chaotic to calm:

1.Become more mindful, more often – when you are in the present moment, you are unable to feel stressed about your to-do list or anxious about that meeting you have next week. You are aware of your thoughts, your senses, and your surroundings; focussed on the here-and-now.

Practical Tip: Have more mindful conversations. When you are having a conversation with someone face to face, look them in the eyes and give them your full attention. Put your phone on silent and have it out of sight. Be fully present and engaged in that conversation, and practice truly listening.

2. Breathe properly – when we slow down our breath and breathe from our diaphragm, our parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, meaning we automatically begin to calm down. When we combine this with focussing on our breath (such as counting out our inhales and exhales), we are shifting our focus away from our anxious thoughts, allowing us to break the ‘loop’, helping us calm down further.
Practical Tip: Put your hands on your belly. As you inhale your hands should rise, and when you exhale your hands should fall (diaphragm breathing). Practice breathing in for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 2, and breathe out for a count of 6.

3. Be more grateful – when we practice gratitude, we begin to identify more things to feel grateful for as we always find what we look for in life.

Practical Tip: Keep a gratitude journal and write down 3 ‘good things’ you are thankful for each day.

4. Self-care – taking good care of you is neither selfish nor indulgent. It is a necessity if you want to reduce stress and increase wellbeing. A good self-care routine includes important lifestyle factors such as: exercise, good sleep hygiene, nutritious food, and engaging in hobbies.

Practical Tip: Schedule regular activities into your week that increase your energy and leave you feeling great. This could be things such as a boxing or yoga class, going out with friends, taking a candlelit bath, reading a great book, spending time in nature etc.

5. Focus on real connections – with social media and technology in general taking over our lives, connecting with people face to face is becoming increasingly foreign. Human love and connection is vital to our health and wellbeing and having a strong support network is a big factor in reducing our stress levels and increasing our happiness.

Practical Tip: Do not let your phone replace your family and friends. Care less about how many Facebook friends and Instagram followers you have, and more about whom you have shared a meal or a coffee with lately. Make a call instead of a text. Handwrite a thank you letter to a loved one. Take a night off from Tinder and go to a bar!

If your symptoms of stress and anxiety are beginning to feel overwhelming, I recommend speaking to a mental health professional such as a psychologist.

Our resident Psychologist Lara Faga practices from the Reservoir clinic.