Are you feeling nice and calm and relaxed?

Today is National Stress Awareness Day so I thought it might be useful to talk a little about stress.

We all feel stress, and to a certain extent it can be a good thing – if there was no stress, we would never get anything done.

But these days… well, there’s a bit too much of it isn’t there.

It often feels like there is stress in anything and everything you do – opening work emails; queueing at the supermarket; driving to work. It’s endless!

But here’s something to ponder: stress is not an external thing.

You can’t go into Aldi and buy a pot of stress.

Nobody can come along and pour stress all over you (though I’ll admit sometimes it does feel that way).

What I mean is: stress is an internal response to what’s going on outside of us.

Opening your computer to find 50 unread emails is neither good nor bad – but how we react to it can often be stressful.

The key is in how we respond to what’s going on around us.

After all, you can’t really control how many emails come in or how someone else is driving.

The only thing under your control is yourself.

Here are some stress busting tips to help you navigate a less stressful day:

  1. Take a deep breath. In through the nose; out through the mouth. This one is really useful to do before responding to anything we find stressful. Just give your body a chance to calm down a bit.
  2. Put your phone down! Ok, ok, I know practically everything we do these days revolves around our phones, but they can make us feel stressed and anxious. Try to spend some time away from your phone each day.
  3. Prioritise sleep. Everything is worse when you’ve not had enough sleep – and it’s better after a solid 7-8 hours!
  4. Stretch. Become aware of your posture right now… does it resemble a prawn? Sit or stand up straight, roll your shoulders back, lift your head. You don’t need physical stress as well as mental.
  5. Try something new. That could be something big like joining a new club, or just picking up a different ingredient for tonight’s dinner. When we’re stressed it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and that often makes things worse.
  6. Meditate. Download an app and give yourself a few minutes every day when you’re just being without doing.
  7. Connect with another human. Human beings need connection and when we don’t have it, it really affects us. Make eye contact with the people around you; hold the door for someone; say “good morning.” It’ll make you feel more connected.
  8. Talk to a friend. Make time for more than just How are you? – Yes, fine thanks; you? Sit down for coffee with a friend and take time to really talk and listen.
  9. Go for a walk. Preferably in nature. It doesn’t need to be a very long walk; just ten minutes walking around the park can make a world of difference.
  10. Resolve to find something positive in each situation. This one can be difficult if you’re having a particularly bad day – but I often find that this is when it’s most useful. Look for something positive, however small. I find this can help to keep me out of full on doom-and-gloom mode.

How do you relieve stress?

11. Take a dip in ice cold water…