Today is National Stress Awareness Day.
While we all know that It’s important to be aware of our stress levels on a daily basis, as well as those around us, an awareness day is always useful to remind us to get back into those good habits.
I’ve collated my favourite stress busting tips from my days as a relaxation coach, I find them very useful as they can subtly help wherever you are.
I know, I know…people always talk about how noticing our breath can help with stress. Do you know why? Because it works!
You can do as little as taking a big sigh to help reset your breathing and slow down your heart rate. Take a deep breath in through your nose and sigh it out through your mouth.
If you have a little more time, there are so many different exercises and tools you can use, a quick search on YouTube or a Google for guided breathing for relaxation will bring back plenty of tips. My personal favourites are 3/3/3 breathing and the ribbon breath.
Lie or sit comfortably, and inhale for a slow count of 3 through your nose. On the count of 1, breathe deeply into your belly, on the count of 2 breathe into your ribs and on the count of 3 breathe into your collar bone. Exhale with a big sigh through your mouth. Repeat as many times as needed. This is a wonderful breathing exercise and is such an easy one to remember. I often use this one when lying in bed unable to switch my mind off.
The ribbon breath was taught to me by my brilliant yoga teacher around five years ago, it has stuck with me and seen me through many stressful times and I still use it regularly.
With your eyes closed, lie down on your back with your arms out to your side or sit cross legged with your hands on your knees. As you inhale through your nose slowly, visualise a ribbon being threaded through from your left finger tips, up your arm and to your shoulder. Hold the breath while the ribbon loops around your face, as you slowly exhale, visualise the ribbon threading back down from your right shoulder through your arm and to your finger tips. Take this breath back up through your right finger tips and out of your left, and repeat as many times as you need to.
Grounding tool -
Another brilliant tool which can help to bring us back to a mindful state and is rather magical as it can be done wherever you are, completely inconspicuously. If you’re feeling anxious, look around you and find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste.
Hand massage -
This Japanese hand massage may look very simple but the effect it has is amazing. The theory is that each finger represents an emotion. Use hand cream if you have some nearby, but you can also do this if you don’t have any available. Take it in turns to hold each finger, ensuring all of the fingers of the opposite hand are in contact with the finger, for at least a minute or two. Eventually you should be able to feel your pulse through your finger and you will feel it start to slow down. Repeat this with each finger. It’s instantly relaxing.
Stretching is a very powerful tool to help release tension and reduce the heart rate in moments of anxiety. If you’re sat at a desk, simply checking in on your posture can help. Straighten your spine, sit up tall and pull your shoulder blades back.
If you have a little more time and space, my favourite stretch is to curl up in a ball as tight as you can, then lay down on your back and stretch yourself as tall as you can pointing your toes and fingers, then finally, melt into the ground and completely relax into the ground beneath you, noticing all of the points that your body touches the ground.
Do you use any of these tools? Or do you have any other recommendations? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.