It can leave us feeling out of control and highly anxious. Sustained and prolonged exposure to stress can cause a whole number of physical and emotional symptoms.
Stress makes us tense, little things become big things, and it’s those little things that start to become hard to manage.
Stress lowers our ability to cope with life. It can affect your job, your relationship, your health and your overall well-being. I see women regularly in my clinic who are exhausted - they aren’t sleeping, they aren’t eating properly, they’re suffering from panic attacks, they are self-medicating with caffeine and alcohol – they are on the edge of burnout and if something doesn’t change, they are dangerously close to hitting burnout. They are just getting through each and every day.
Feeling stressed is a red flag for you. It's a sign that you are overloaded. There are things you can do as an individual to reduce that load, but also things that you could talk to your employer or team about in terms of helping champion and facilitate reducing stress, and contributing to improving health and well being in your workplace or business. Here are my top tips:
1. Get the basics right.
The basics are the things that get neglected when we are feeling stressed and under pressure. Yet it’s these basics that provide us with a balanced foundation - physically, mentally and emotionally.
We know all of this right?
It’s not rocket science it’s just that sometimes we need a gentle reminder.
You don’t need fancy gym memberships or hours of spare time to exercise. Pop your trainers on and get out for a walk on your lunch hour. Go for a run, sweat it out, swim, cycle, do a yoga session from the comfort of your own home or work place.
Exercise reduces the body’s stress hormones and triggers the release of endorphin's (your body’s natural anti-depressant). Reduce the stimulants i.e. your caffeine and alcohol consumption, have days where you are ‘alcohol free’ - kick the habit of that daily glass of wine to wind down .
Eat a balanced diet - running on empty is not balance, and don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Unleash the power of the ‘nap attack’ – it’s self care in action and napping literally bathes your brain in serotonin, which is the magic stuff that helps improve your mood and sparkle.
2. Identify the stressor's in your life.
Stress can come from a whole host of places. Sometimes life hits us with BIG curve balls that knock us for six, other times it’s a combination of small, but sustained curve balls, which, over time wear us down.
Change, increased responsibility, illness, death, divorce, debt, moving house, redundancy, feeling stuck or under sustained pressure and spinning lots of plates are all stress provoking curve balls.
Working out what’s contributing to your stress levels is the first part of the jigsaw puzzle.
Once you know the stressor's it becomes much easier then to work out a plan of attack to reduce them. If work is a source of stress, speak to your line manager or your team. There may be things that they can do to minimise the load, and give you some much needed breathing space. Your health is your organisations collective wealth.
3. Become a self-care superstar.
Taking time out to come up for air is really important.
When your mind is full, it’s hard to relax, so have a think about the things that make you feel relaxed and nourished and pop them down on paper. Whether it’s a long hot soak in the bath, binge watching Netflix or reading a book – allow yourself to do these things as and when you need to do them (and without the guilt). Make time to carve out time for you. Time for head space. Time to think. Time to silence the noise in your head. Time to just be you.
It needs to become part of your daily routine
We are social beings and feeling isolated can make us feel disconnected. Don’t underestimate the power of conversation and talking. Feeling connected and part of a community/team/organisation can have a massive impact on your emotional health and well being. Lean in and surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you.
Make time in your day to connect.
5. Incorporate the art of ‘slow weekending’
Which is about recognising that yes, your Monday-Friday is full on, and that actually, what you need more than anything are for your weekends to be at a slower pace. Try switching off your devices, disconnecting from social media and re-connecting with your life.
Don’t over plan things.
Don’t feel under pressure to have to ‘do things’ and ‘go places’.
Discover the art of doing nothing. Create time in your weekend to enjoy cooking and eating a meal, having a work out that might involve an invigorating swim or relaxing spa afterwards. Time with friends to have a coffee and watch the world go by in your favourite café. Savour your time, enjoy the delights that life has to offer and be mindful of your down time and how you are spending it.
Catherine Asta Labbett, is an award winning Female Focused Psychotherapist. She works with women all over the world offering skype and in person therapy from her Yorkshire clinic base, and in 2019 was awarded a Fellow from the National Council Psychotherapists for her outstanding contribution to her profession.
Catherine works with women at all stages of their life and has also has a celebrity client base. The resident expert on the BBC Radio Leeds award winning Stephanie Hirst show and a regular contributor in the media - as heard and seen on BBC Radio 5 LIVE, Grazia, Marie Claire, Women's Health Magazine, Boots, Virgin and more.
Catherine was the winner of the Northern Blog Awards 2018 'One to Watch' and a finalist in the UK Blog Awards 2019. She is a finalist for 'Mentor of the Year' 2019 with Forward Ladies and was voted in the Top 10 extraordinary women in the 2019 Knomo London Awards.
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