Stress & Healthy living

Work related stress is something very real that affects a huge portion of the population at some point in their life. Pressures to do more with less time can leave us tense, feeling like we are failing and can affect our mental well-being and subsequently our body.  Identifying stress and how to combat it once you have recognised it is half the battle. To help with this we have put together our thoughts and tips on dealing with stress.

Kate: This is something I hadn’t really experienced myself until recently. Some of you may know I work in healthcare. A recent change in job along with typical NHS situation of not enough staff, not enough budget and certainly not enough time left me tense, losing my usual light-hearted nature and laying in bed at night thinking about work. I would be completing my morning ritual worrying about the day ahead and found my muscles tightening resulting in pain and tension headaches. In nursing there is a huge emphasis on resilience and our ability to ‘bounce back’ from life events. In my experience coping strategies are essential for this, these are my tips for dealing with stress:

  • Turn to your colleagues. A big shout out to the girls in my team, if I didn’t have them to turn to I would have stopped being able to turn up for work a long time ago! It is so important to be able to talk things out and when you are struggling change the subject to something totally silly and have a good giggle.  This brings me onto my next point…
  • Look after your colleagues – they probably feel the same, if you see a co-worker struggling offer them a cuppa and a breather. Lone worker? Find other lone workers or support groups Facebook groups that you can reach out to when you need some support.
  • Aromatherapy – Add some calming aromas to your daily routine, a lavender pillow spray, sip on some chamomile tea while you get ready in the morning or have some bergamot or ylang ylang diffusing in your car. All these essential oils have amazing anti-stress and anxiety qualities.
  • Mindfulness – This is a real buzzword at the moment but mindfulness can really help turn a stressful day around. I keep a journal and at the end of the day I write down things from my day that have made me smile … a beautiful sunrise …hearing the birds sing … a huge slice of cake with an amazing cup of tea…!
  • Exercise – Whether its going for a run with some loud music on to sweat out a tough day, walking the dogs or a chilled yoga session to centre myself, getting active and moving always makes me feel better. Physical activity stimulates the release of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins – basically the four chemicals that make you happy!
  • Reclaim your lunch break – we posted about this aaages ago but it is still relevant, it is important to tear yourself away for at least half hour to give your brain a rest. Plus it’s shown to make you more productive for the rest of the day!

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Becca: As someone who suffers from chronic pain, I’m all too aware of the effects stress can have on the body. Having read a few books, and several more website articles on how to self-manage pain the one sentence that has stuck with me has been: “To successfully self-manage chronic pain, you have to manage your stress.” As stated in a blog post by the Institute of Chronic pain, by focusing on reducing stress, you come to cope better and pain can go from what was once intolerable to what is now tolerable. Now all this is easier said then done, but I do try and make a conscious effort to improve my well-being. Here are a few of my tips!

  • Keep active – I’m not able to do heavy exercise due to my pain so I stick with pilates and yoga, both of which also help with stress. I also try and take some time during the day to go on a walk, even if it’s five minutes. Luckily I now work in the middle of nowhere so I can enjoy the beautiful surroundings on my lunch-break rather than the hustle and bustle of London.
  • Read a good book – I’m totally one for escapism and delving into a good book (fantasy preferably for me) always helps distract me. If I’m stressed I only have to read a few chapters and by the time I’m done nothing seems so bad any more.
  • Relaxation playlists on Spotify – having worked in music most of my life, there is nothing more calming than your favourite tunes. I love classical music and have created several playlists which are filled with relaxing music but Spotify also has it’s own ‘mood mixes’ you can use if you’re feeling uninspired.
  • Take a hot bath – preferably with a good book and a relaxation playlist in the background. Light a few candles for added effect. I also use Epsom salts to relax tense muscles and a splash of essential oils.
  • Spend time with friends – my besties are always great at distracting me when I’m feeling a bit frazzled. Lark around, play a video game, watch a film, bake a cake, make something or just natter all with a big mug of calming tea.

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A bit of madness never hurt anyone…

We hope we have offered some useful coping strategies if your are struggling with stress, likewise we are always on the lookout for new suggestions and would love to hear what you do to relax! Keep your eyes peels for some more upcoming anti-stress posts and DIYs!

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