The clocks have gone back which heralds the start of the dark evenings, the lack of daylight hours has an adverse effect on our psyche (well being).

Today it is International Stress Awareness day. Did you know that one in five people suffer from chronic stress, and that one in six people are dealing with mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression or stress?

The top ten causes of stress:

-Death of a spouse
-Marital Separation
-Jail Term
-Death of a Close Family Member
-Personal Injury or Illness
-Loss of Job
-Marital Reconciliation

In today’s fast pace life many people find they are stressed by social expectations, pressure at work, financial problems, weight gain/loss, exams and relationships.

The body responds to stress physically. Stress causes the body to react, it chemically changes, prepares to either confront the challenge, flee or freeze.

Your body releases adrenaline (the stress hormone), the heart rate increases, breathing quickens and blood pressures rises.

The liver increases output of sugar and blood flow is diverted to the brain and large muscles. Symptoms of stress may include, feeling anxious, feeling scared, feeling irritable and /or moody.

Stress affects our thoughts.

Thoughts of low self-esteem, fear of failure, inability to concentrate, worrying about the future, preoccupation with thoughts/tasks and forgetfulness can be present.

Stress affects behaviour. It can cause stuttering and other speech difficulties, you could even experience bouts of crying for no apparent reason, and also laughing in a high pitch or nervous tone of voice. You may be more prone to accidents, overeating, under eating and increased use of drugs and alcohol.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 80% of health care is spent on stress related disorders such as; –

Hypertension; Migraine; Headaches; Ulcers; Anxiety; Allergies; Asthma; Cancer and Cardiovascular disease.

So how can we help ourselves to reduce stress levels and manage the challenges in our everyday lives?

Here are some examples of ways to take control back.

Breathe Deeply –

Inhale deeply through your nose, pull the air all the way down, deep into the lungs. Hold the breath for a count of seven. Exhale slowly through the mouth to the count of eleven. Do this for several minutes. You may find yourself a little dizzy or light-headed, if so, then begin breathing naturally, until the sensation passes, then start again. With a little practise you will become more proficient, this technique really does help you to relax more.

Express your Feelings and Thoughts – (speak your truth)

How about calling a friend, someone you trust, “A problem shared is a problem halved”, as they say. Talk through what you are going through and find possible solutions that may help relieve the stress. If you are unable or do not want to reveal your concerns to a friend, talk to your doctor. Alternatively come along and see a hypnotherapist as we need minimum content, what we need most of all is the outcome you desire and we will work towards that.

Join a group. Increase your social activity. Join a community on the Internet i.e. Facebook, twitter etc.… if this appeals to you.

If you feel these avenues would not help.

How about getting a pet, they are very good listeners, the love you get back is better than any medicine.

Make Time for Relaxation and Fun – Find an activity that makes you feel good. It may be dancing, listening to music, walking along the beach, hiking, working in the garden, taking photographs, watching birds, going to the movies, golfing, swimming, visiting museums.

Make better use of your time. Good time management will allow you to have more quality time.

List the activities that give you joy. Do at least one of them every day.

Going on holiday or taking time off work is like putting a plaster on a gaping wound as the symptoms will return, when you get back into the same routine that made you stressed in the first place.

Exercise – (yes, the word you may dread) will actually help to alleviate stress in your body, it does not have to be Olympic standard just begin with little steps at first incorporating a physical activity into your day such as swimming or walking.

Do some form of exercise that interests you!

Make sure to consult your physician beforehand.

Laugh as much as you can, when you can

Laughter is a great way to relieve stress. If you find something funny, have a good belly laugh.

Watch funny movies. Read funny stories. Be around people, who make you smile.

Get Rid of Negative influences.

Look around you, who is contributing to your state of mind, supporting your depression.

” If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got” Virginia Satir.

Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself, who accept you for who you are.

Write out your complaints or troubles, along with a list of possible solutions.

Writing is no substitute for professional help but it does allow you to vent your feelings and frustrations. By writing with pen in hand or at the keyboard, you may discover an insight or solution to whatever is frustrating or bothering you.

Get A Massage – Make an investment in yourself. Massage therapy can relax muscles, ease muscle spasm, increase blood flow to skin and muscles and relieve mental and emotional stress. I believe that massage is a good investment, have one a month, try it out, see how you feel

Be Realistic in your expectations.

Strive for harmony and balance.

Real life can manifest challenges. Be willing to negotiate, state your needs then work at coming to a mutual beneficial result.

Your Communication Skills –

Aggressive and hostile communication with others antagonizes and alienates.

Assertive training can help you learn to express your needs without offending others or feeling ignored.

You can only change yourself.

Work to grasp the full meaning of this statement. Trying to change another person causes stress to both parties. It can ruin relationships, and cause others to avoid you.

If you make statements such as –

If only he…

If only she…

If only they…

Then you need to look in the mirror and say, “If it is meant to be it is down to me, to make the situation better”.

Accept – You always have choices, they may not be the ones you like, but choices you have.

If you can’t leave a situation that is causing you extreme stress, then accept it as it is. Adjust your approach to it. Look for ways to see positive things.

Dwelling on the negative things in your life will only attract more of the same.

Stress does not suddenly disappear in modern day life, you have to take action, to reduce and manage it.

Make a commitment to do any one of the tips above and chances are your perception of stress will totally change, you may discover that you have all the resources you need for a stress free life.

Your health and relationships with others will improve, most of all, your relationship with yourself will improve.


Written by: Sonya Hudson