Since 1992, the month of April has been dedicated to raising awareness of stress and the harmful effects it can have on us mentally and physically. High levels of stress can affect us in many different ways, and will ultimately take a toll on our mental and physical health, which can result in anxiety, depression, loss of appetite and lack of sleep, amongst other things.
Coach and happiness expert, Jo Howarth, has studied mindfulness and hypnotherapy for over 20 years and, unlike many experts, she appreciates that dealing with juggling family life, busy careers and unexpected life events can threaten to steal our joy from time to time. Prior to her life as a Happiness Expert, Jo was an Event Manager for 12+ years and in that time dealt with a fair amount of stress! It was after undertaking hypnotherapy and mindfulness teachings that she learnt to change the way she thought about life and handled stress. This was the turning point for her and she realised she needed to show other people how to do this too.
We have asked Jo for three simple tips on handling stress that we can all engage in on a day-to-day basis to improve our lives…
Stress. There’s a lot of it around these days isn’t there?
So, if you are concerned about your stress levels then please keep reading. I am going to share my top 3 tips for helping you deal with stress and anxiety, methods that I have used regularly over the years myself.
Top Tip 1: Breathe…
The simplest and most effective way to calm yourself down when you feel stressed, anxious or wound up is to focus on your breathing. Lie down flat on your back with your legs straight out. Place your hands flat on your tummy, one above the other. Now gently breathe in and out. Don’t try and manipulate your breath in any way, just breathe normally. As you breathe, pay attention to the movement of your hands as your tummy moves up with each breath in and down again with each breath out. Put your full attention and focus on the movement of your hands and your tummy. If any thoughts about anything else come into your mind just gently bring your attention back to the movement of your hands and your tummy. Each time your mind wanders off, gently bring your focus back to your tummy going up and down.
Top Tip 2: Be Glad!
This is called The Glad Exercise and, very simply, you sit down and think about everything that has happened on that particular day. Then you must find as many things as you possibly can to be glad about or grateful for. They don’t have to be enormous, exciting things. Simple things such as seeing your friends, having a hug with someone you love, something nice somebody said to you, eating some food that you like, watching a programme you enjoy – all of these every day things pass us by without us giving them the attention they deserve. See if you can find at least five things every day to be glad about. Play this game every night and remind yourself of all the brilliant, wonderful things there are in your life.
Top Tip 3: Get more sleep!
Are you getting enough sleep?
Do you know how much enough is?
Do you prioritise getting enough or is it pot luck how much you get?
Sleep is ridiculously important for both our physical and mental wellbeing. Sleep is nature’s healer, it is when your body repairs and rejuvenates but it is also when your mind repairs and rejuvenates. Getting enough sleep improves your memory and your concentration, it gives your brain the chance to organise and process the information you’ve taken on board that day and it sharpens your focus and attention.
Make sure you get somewhere between 7 and 9 hours sleep a night and you will start to feel calmer and more relaxed as you go through your day.