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Let it go: quick fixes and life-altering solutions for stress

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Stress is now so commonplace that for many of us it has become a way of life. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Jason Broderick has some quick fixes and life-altering solutions.

If you find yourself wanting to manage stress in your life but you’re stuck on the treadmill then you’re in luck. Here are some well-known stress relievers for busy people that you can fit  into your life schedule with very little fuss.

Being flexible, accurate and a thorough thinker under stress and pressure is a foundational skill for life. However, even with the best intentions, thinking traps, core beliefs, runaway thinking and catastrophising can knock us about when we’re not performing at our best and sabotage even those with a ‘suck it up,’ ‘shoulders back’ and ‘move on’ attitude.

When moments like these get hold of even the most resilient of us, it’s important to be ready and armed with coping strategies. Many of these take little to no time and have great benefits when implemented into your daily routine.

Try this technique

The S.T.O.P technique is great when you feel stuck, frustrated or stressed out but need to remain focused on a task. The steps are as follows:

Stop. Stand or sit still and pay attention to how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking

Take a breath. Breathing in quickly and then taking a long,slow breath out allows you to recentre and re-focus.

Observe. Make a mental note of where you feel tension in your muscles. Are your shoulders tight? Is your jaw clenched? What are you thinking, and are those thoughts productive or counterproductive?

Proceed. Now that you have a little additional information about the sources of stress in your environment, proceed with what you were doing.

The goal is to be aware of your wellbeing. This assists towards preventing the stress from becoming a trigger for conflict and negative spiralling.

Rethink your thinking

While it takes a little practice to develop a more positive frame of mind, it’s worth the effort because it can really change your whole experience of life and how you live it.

When we reframe an experience or event, we can change the effect it has on us emotionally and physically. After some initial learning and a bit of habitual practice, positive reframing can assist you to experience better health and less stress. Remember your glass is half full.

Remember to breathe

Breathing exercises are a great way to relieve stress anytime, anywhere. They’re simple to learn, simple to use and can be done on the spot, immediately helping you to feel better. One very effective exercise is to ‘inhale’ and ‘exhale’ your stress. Repeat two to three times and focus on your breath.

Alternatively, to immediately interrupt your body’s stress response, try ‘four-seven-eight breathing.’ Unlike normal, unconscious breathing, this technique has you breathing in for a count of four, holding fora count of seven, and slowly releasing your breath to a count of eight. Practise four-seven-eight breathing for just a few minutes and you will immediately feel more relaxed.

Let music lift you

Listening to music has proven health and stress-relief benefits and it’s something that’s so easy to do.  Even if you have a packed schedule, you can play music as you get ready for work, thus relieving stress as you go about  your daily activities.

Boosting your mood through music is quick and it’s simple. With some pre-planning, you can even have a playlist to put you in a particular upbeat or meditative mood.

Take your vitamins

Taking your vitamins in the morning really can help you feel less stressed throughout the day. In particular, you may want to take a Vitamin B complex, Calcium and Magnesium, and Vitamin C.

You should always talk to your doctor before beginning any new vitamin regimen to ensureyou take a mix that is safe for you and your particular situation, but vitamins are a quick and beneficial way to relieve stress if taken appropriately.

Start saying no

It’s sometimes hard to say no, especially if you’re concerned about disappointing or offending people. And it can be hard to accept that it’s even OK to say no.

Learning to diplomatically say no is a quick and simple way to lighten your schedule. It allows you to put yourself first and that’s OK as well.

Prioritise wellness

Eating healthily and sleeping on a regular schedule ensures that you are less vulnerable to anxiety. You may have to resort to drastic measures to make this happen – like quitting Facebook and turning off all electronic devices a few hours before you plan to sleep. Give yourself time to unwind before bed, so you can get the rest you need.

Exercise of any sort helps to relax your mind and release tension. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries. Yoga, tai chi, Pilates, gardening, kickboxing and dancing all provide an excellent workout for stress relief. If you’re not an athlete or if you’re out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management.

Meditation can calm your mind and by extension your stressed out system. Just as fitness is an approach to training the body, meditation is an approach to training the mind. Simply put, you train your mind to give you some peace and quiet.

One of the easiest ways to begin meditating is by focusing  on your breathing or repeating a single word or mantra. You then refocus your awareness each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than pursuing random thoughts and worries, you simply let them go. Through this process, you find yourself better able to cope, having freed yourself of worries even just for a short time.

Jason Broderick is a wellbeing coach and counselling psychologist at Discovery Bay International School (DBIS). To follow him on Instagram, head to @wellbeingcoach101. For more on DBIS, visit www.dbis.edu.hk.

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