The BBC recently released an article which said 300,000 people leave their job each year because of mental health problems, and let’s be honest, statistics aside, we only need to look around us to see that our friends, family and colleagues are feeling the pressure of stress and anxiety in their lives.
Stress is usually impossible to illuminate completely from our lives, however we can live a lifestyle that helps us manage stress. The great thing is, there are some super simply, yet effective changes we can make that have the power to dramatically reduce the feelings of stress and anxiety.
Here’s out top 5 easy, yet effective ways;
Get into an evening ritual
We hear so much about the importance of morning rituals, when in fact an evening ritual could be just as important, if not more so, than a morning ritual. We’ve all been guilty of working long hours on an evening, skipping a healthy meal for something a little more convenient and when we do have chance to sit down at the end of the day, we just can’t switch our mind off from the worry of work emails and making sure the kids are ok…never mind our own wellbeing. Well, I’ve found, introducing an evening ritual into my life, extremely transformative.
Sleep is so important and the truth is, there is no substitute for a good night’s sleep. So in order to get those full 8 hours, introducing an evening ritual will help you wind down your active brain and ultimately support you in living a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Lack of Sleep contributes massively to stress, so here’s a few tips to get you started with your new evening ritual:
- Choose your ‘Sleep Schedule’. Decide when you will get your 8 hours sleep. Will it be 10pm – 6am or will it be 11:30pm – 7:30pm?
- Switch off all devices. Switching off all devices (especially your mobile phone!) 2 hours before your bedtime, will give your brain chance to rest and switch off. The light on mobile phones, television screens and laptops stimulates your brain meaning it’s hard for you to settle down for sleep. We’d advise doing this 2 hours before you plan on going to sleep.
- Chose a few mindful activities before sleep. I love to enjoy a hot bath and read a few pages of a ‘feel-good’ book with a herbal tea before bedtime. A few other ideas include listening to some relaxing music, journaling or enjoy some mindful colouring.
- Make sure your sleep is not disturbed. Having noise and light disturbances through out the night can mean you loose quality sleep, using ear plugs or eye masks can really support you in getting that good night sleep.
- Find a sleep buddy. Tell a family member, your partner or a friend about your new evening ritual. Ask them if they want to you join you in getting better sleep and feeling less stressed. Having other people support you stick to this new healthy habit in place will help you stick to your new routine!
Choose a feel-good exercise!
Exercise is one of the most recommended coping techniques by health professionals and is considered vital for staying mentally healthy. Studies show that exercise reduces fatigue – this can be very helpful when stress is draining all your energy.
As soon as you begin to exercise and get moving physically, your brain is flooded with feel-good hormones that act as natural pain killers and help with sleep, which as we know, in turn reduces stress.
The Anxiety and Depression Association says “Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.”
Choose an exercise that feels good to you and fits in with your current schedule. Maybe right now taking a brisk walk to your local park would fit in nicely, or a local class on your lunch break. Make sure your new exercise regime is realistic and fun!
We’ve a range of locally run classes from Dancercise to Body tone. Click here to see our class timetable
Switch your phone off at 8pm (you can do it!)
We know the idea of being away from your phone can sound super scary – but doesn’t that suggest how important it is for us to spend less time online? We’ve become so addicted to checking our social media and by doing so we’re feeling more anxious than ever.
Constantly scrolling through social media and the internet pulls us away from the present moment, it makes us think about the past and the future. And usually anxiety is created through thinking about ‘what could go wrong’, when really, in reality, you’re perfectly safe. When we’re able to ground ourselves in the present moment and enjoy the ‘now’, we gain more from the simple things in life.
If you think you’ll really struggle with this, start with a 3-day challenge. Challenge yourself for the next 3 days to turn your phone off at 8pm – I guarantee you’ll notice a positive impact very quickly!
Extra tip: if you use your phone as an alarm clock or to tell the time, why not buy a alarm clock for your bedroom? Or if you must keep it on, switch on flight mode when you begin your evening ritual.
Switch your coffee for hot lemon or herbal tea
The idea of not having your morning coffee can make people very nervous – trust me, it used to make me feel a little nervous too! But after drinking hot lemon water every morning and most evenings for almost 12 months, I can say personally that the results speak for themselves – I’m less stressed, less anxious, my mind is clear, I enjoy a good nights sleep and there’s a few other perks I enjoy like clearer skin and more energy!
Caffeine triggers cortisol release – the drug related to stress so instantly our mind and body is more stimulated in situations where we don’t need to be alert. Because of this, we find it hard to switch off and get a good night’s sleep, yet because we’ve been on overdrive from the caffeine stimulation, we’re actually really in need of a good nights sleep!
Here’s just a few reasons why choosing lemon water is great for your mental health:
- Depression and anxiety are often a result of not enough potassium in the blood stream. Even the scent of lemons can calm your nervous system.
- Lemons have a higher concentration of negative ions than any other fruit. This increases the amount of oxygen to the brain, making you feel more alert and less drowsy.
- You’re no longer putting caffeine in your body and therefore no longer triggering a stress-hormone release for no reason.
To enjoy a hot lemon, all you need to do is take a slice of fresh lemon and enjoy it in a cup of hot water. Try it! It’s delicious!
Take 10 minutes to simply relax and breathe each day.
I know we can’t all enjoy the deep relaxing zen of a luxury spa every weekend but who says we can’t create a mini-haven in our homes? Even if it is just for 10 minutes in a quite spot at home?
Breathing deeply sends signals to your brain that you’re safe and happy. It calms down the part of your brain that puts you on full alert. Breathing deeply also causes your body to produce endorphins – those feel-good chemicals we were talking about earlier!
Sit in a quiet space where you feel comfortable, somewhere where you know you wont be disturbed and enjoy some long, deep breaths. You may enjoy putting on some music and even lighting a candle. Really enjoy this quiet time for yourself.
We’d love to hear about your journey towards a stress-free lifestyle. Share you experience with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!