Escaping from stress is easier said than done – if only you had a penny every time someone told you to ‘calm down’! So if that pep talk from you bff hasn’t helped you as much as you’d hoped, then it’s time to seek advice from the pros.
We caught up with mindfulness expert Clare Dimond, to help understand triggers and which stress relief remedies are worth investing time in. So, whether it has slowly sneaked up on you or has been sparked by a demanding work project, these top tips are here to help alleviate stress…
Ways to Help Relieve Stress
A quick google search will show you a handful of helpful ways to ‘deal’ with stress. But, before you assume that each tip will immediately melt your troubles away, it is worth keeping in mind that these actions may only help fall out of stressful thinking in the moment.
For example going on a walk, meditating or taking a yoga class might give you a temporary distraction to fall out of stressful thinking – but it’s not an instant fix and it won’t work for everyone. This can be because your stressful thinking may be with you while you’re taking the class or if you’re still stressed after the class then you may feel more wound tight that the relaxing remedy didn’t work for you.
Relief from stress will always come from letting go of stressful thoughts. And as soon as we come to realise that the stress is from the thoughts you are thinking, it can bring comfort knowing that those same thoughts can always change.
Stress & Sleep
The best way to tackle stress and any of the knock-on effects of stress, such as disrupted sleep, is to understand that stressful thoughts have no useful information in them.
We know that can be a little easier said than done, because when you wake up in the early hours of the morning it can mean that those stressful thoughts are very powerful - it’s all you can think about. In the dead quiet of the night they seem very loud and important. So at these times, remind yourself that stressful thoughts are not informative and a they are a trick of the mind and therefore nothing to listen to. This will help you let go of those thoughts and get back to catching those zzzzz’s.
Letting go of stressful thoughts stops them from being an issue; it really is as simple as that. We see this happen throughout the day. One minute we are completely stressed about something and in the next minute we are absorbed or distracted with something else and we have forgotten all about the stress.
There is no one-size-fits-all technique that will take away stressful thoughts. If there was, we would all be doing it and there would be no such thing as stress! There are breathing techniques, bubble baths and supplements that can help relax the mind, which can offer solace in the moment but don’t be disheartened if they don’t work for you. Just remember, the best advice is to realise stressful feelings are always temporary.
Feelings of stress come from a perception of being under threat of something.. It is not the boss/uni workload/demanding social life creating stress – because if it was everyone would react the same way. It is simply the way we are thinking about the situation in the moment.
If we continue fixating on thoughts that stress us out (eg. my boss is criticising me) then it can develop into general anxiety. So, it’s not uncommon to experience anxiety as a symptom of stress.
There are many significant ways in which stress impacts the body which shows the incredible power that thought has in stimulating physical response. These symptoms can include headaches, disrupted sleep, dizziness, muscle tension and shortness of breath. As the stressful thoughts go away, these symptoms may get better but if you’re continually worrying then you might remain in this state of high alert and the symptoms can continue and in some cases worsen.
Written by Clare Dimond, Mindfulness Expert