By Natasha Albanese. Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner and Life Coach.
It’s funny. We’re prone to using the word ‘stressed’ quite flippantly – while failing to realise the tremendous impact it can have on our physical, emotional and mental health. According to a 2018 study on stress from the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope.
And so here we find ourselves – still very much in the midst of a Coronavirus clinch. And it feels incredibly heavy for many. It’s not surprising at all that since the outbreak of Coronavirus, 84.9% of adults have reported they’ve felt stressed or anxious as a result of the pandemic.
If you’re feeling stressed right now, let me reassure you, that’s OK – you’re human. We are thinking beings. We literally have tens of thousands of thoughts a day and we are always FEELING the thoughts that we’re giving attention to. Throw in a global pandemic and the UK’s second national lockdown for good measure, and… I get it. I understand those pesky thoughts and feelings will worm their way in somehow.
And while it’s more than alright to feel stressed, whether we choose to STAY with those thoughts? Well that’s a choice.
I’ve sadly seen a sharp rise in people seeking support for stress (and anxiety) in my private practice recently – so it felt fitting on National Stress Awareness Day 2020 to pop pen to paper (read; fingers to keyboard!) and share some tips to help alleviate some of that pressure.
ACCEPT WHERE THINGS ARE AT
Challenges present themselves in life – it’s an inevitable fact. And right now, they are getting chucked at us full pelt (2020 – what a sh*t show!)
But one of the healthiest things you can do right now is to let go of any expectation. You see, you normally find it’s not the thing itself (*cough* Coronavirus *cough*) that causes those stressful feelings. It’s your thoughts about the thing.
So, throw away that picture of what you think things ‘should’ be looking like at this point, and instead, accept where things are at. And by acceptance, I don’t mean resignation or a feeling of powerlessness, but rather making a conscious choice to experience our thoughts and feelings as they are.
When we practice acceptance in this way – and when we give up trying to ‘control’ our experience – we invite the opportunity for change. Real, positive change.
SAVOUR THE OUTDOORS
Spending time in nature has been found to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress.
The way we live has changed dramatically over the years thanks to technological advances, but our brains have largely stayed the same. A dose of nature might remind you just how wondrous the world is, and how we’re all a tiny part of a pretty remarkable Universe. Quite powerful, really.
Being in nature also allows you the opportunity to really slow down and pay attention. So often we get caught up in our own network of struggles and stresses that we never really look around. We fail to notice.
Go for walks and look at your surroundings with fresh eyes. Listen to the sounds, feel the air on your skin. I guarantee this mindful practice will help alleviate your stresses.
GET SOME REST
Relaxation is as important as activity – and let’s face it – you need it to function at your best. When life feels a bit relentless, it’s more important than ever to prioritise rest. Don’t wear busy like a badge of honour – it’s really not worth it.
KINDNESS IS KEY
We have a constant, internal dialogue – and sometimes this can sway too far into the negative arena. (And yes, this is a sure-fire way to crank up stress!)
I want you to be honest. How much stress do you create from the way you speak to yourself? Are you being kind? Or do you tend to harshly criticise and berate yourself when things ‘go wrong’? Do you set high expectations and then beat yourself up when you fall short?
It happens. But I want you to consider this – how can you reframe that negative self talk?
Start talking back to that detrimental voice. Begin by introducing a more compassionate dialogue. For example, ‘I can’t do this’ becomes, ‘I’ll do the best I can.’ ‘Everything is going wrong’ becomes ‘I can handle this if I take one step at a time.’
Do this until the kinder, more patient dialogue becomes more familiar and purposeful. In time it will shift your sense of worth and value, and the stressful situations you have created for yourself will lessen in their impact.
APPRECIATE THE GOOD
Write down five things you are grateful for in this moment. Whatever it may be – your wellbeing, supportive family, great friends, a hobby or activity you get to enjoy, the taste of your favourite chocolate, that really funny Netflix show you’re watching.
There are always some good things kicking about, even when things feel a little dark. Shift your perspective and watch stress dissipate.
WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD? YEAH, DO MORE OF THAT!
So simple, but so effective! What makes you happy? Most alive? What brings you the most delight? Most fun?
Stress can steamroll its way in when there’s not enough joy in your life – so make time to do the things that bring you it. It’ll counteract stress a treat.
BREAK IT DOWN
Breaking down the problems that seem really significant, big, and stressful into smaller, manageable chunks is a really great way to tackle the seemingly scary and overwhelming stuff.
Take one step at a time instead of trying to tackle everything at once. Each time you complete a chunk, it impacts your motivation and confidence to move onto the next thing.
In doing this, you can also wave goodbye to that frazzled state of mind!
Natasha Albanese is a Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner and Life Coach. Check out her Facebook page and Instagram account, or visit her website www.natashaalbanesecoaching.co.uk to find out how Hypnotherapy/NLP and Transformative Life Coaching can help you.