The experts share their tips on how to let go of stress
Stress can cause all kinds of problems such as sleep issues, weight loss or gain, and a compromised immune system. Find out how to reduce your stress levels with these expert tips…
Reduce stress with fresh air
“Being cooped up all day inside can really take its toll on you, physically and mentally. So try to get outside for some fresh air at least once during your working day.
Whether it’s eating lunch outside or going for a walk, this will get you moving and give your eyes a break from constantly looking at a screen.
If you can do this with friends or colleagues, that’s even better because you can encourage each other to get outside, plus doing an activity together builds better, more resilient relationships.”
Kira Mahal, personal trainer and founder of Reset LDN
Try reflexology to relax
“With stress being so prevalent in our modern lives, reflexology is a wonderful way to unwind, calm a busy mind and tap into the body’s innate healing wisdom.
When you have reflexology, you stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and enter a state called ‘rest and digest’. In this state, your heart rate slows, digestive activity is increased, the body stops pumping out stress hormones and the body has a chance to heal. You can have an hour of calm and enter a meditative-like state. It’s the perfect antidote to a busy life.”
Serena Louth, Women’s wellness expert and reflexologist
Discover knitting to beat stress
“The rhythmic movements of knitting induce a sense of deep relaxation. Research shows that the more frequently people knit (more than three times a week), the happier and calmer they report feeling.
Regular knitters will experience a familiar, comforting sense of instant calm when they pick up their needles. Combine this with knitting’s portability and it gives you a powerful tool to manage stress and anxiety wherever you are, whenever you need it.
Choosing a yarn for its tactile qualities and in a colour you love will enhance the feel-good experience.”
Betsan Corkhill, author of Knit for Health & Wellness: How to knit a flexible mind & more
Reduce stress by letting go of negativity
“In my experience, a great way to get stress relief is to learn to recognise when you’re trapped in rumination mode.
Ruminating while in a low mood impairs problem solving. People often believe that overthinking will lead to light-bulb moments and problem-solving insights. It generally doesn’t.
If you find it hard to stop overthinking, try some distraction techniques such as going for a walk, taking deep breaths or picking up the phone to talk to a friend. This will help reduce your physiological stress and shift your attention.”
Alice Boyes, author of The Anxiety Toolkit.
How exercise reduces stress
“When it comes to releasing negative stress, as a lifelong yoga teacher, I can tell you that slowing down doesn’t always work.
At least, not at first. Sometimes, the answer is to get even fiercer than your stress in order to tame it.
High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, with its purposefully challenging hills and valleys of activity, might seem like the antithesis of relaxing and the polar opposite of yoga. But surprisingly, they are perfect counterparts.
HIIT does everything yoga doesn’t: it gets your heart rate way up and works fast-twitch muscle fibres to define you. You begin releasing old toxins and body fat through deep exhales, so you literally feel lighter and cleaner.
This intense form of exercise also optimises your deep DNA repair and cardio health far more than a slower flow yoga class can. Better oxygen intake means more healing and an efficient metabolism on all levels.
All of this helps you to relax and recharge, especially when you blissfully hit Savasana!”
Sadie Nardini, founder of The Yoga Shred®, a joint-safer, mindfully fierce HIIT + yoga fusion style
Stress and alcohol
“Alcohol’s effects on our brains are complex and contradictory.
While alcohol is a sedative and can relax us in small quantities, it also prompts the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline, which we associate with feelings of anxiety and stress.
So drinking to unwind can make our stress worse. Having a chilled glass of wine (or whatever your chosen drink is) to de-stress is a habit we’ve learned, but we can rethink our relaxation routines.
For many of us, drinking gives us time away from the day’s pressures. The rituals we use to unwind are even more effective alcohol-free.
Getting home can be a chance to enjoy some quiet time in a safe space, so we can allow ourselves to breathe. Meeting friends can be an opportunity to share the stresses of
the day, as we laugh together and find a new perspective on our challenges.
These moments of calm and connection are the best stress-relievers and they are ours to enjoy… without a drop of alcohol.”
Dru Jaeger, co-founder of Club Soda
Reduce stress with special techniques
“When we are stressed or under extreme overwhelm, our body goes into a fight or flight state. It feels like we are in survival mode, which can be life-saving if we are in a life-threatening situation, but which can be burdensome in non-life-threatening social situations.
Stress manifests in different ways in different people. Some somatize it in the body and feel pain and tension, others become emotionally challenged or unable to sleep because their mind is racing and overactive.
So when you’re needing to let go of stress, try a technique that engages both body and mind in order to be effective – I love a Sophrology exercise called The Pump, where you stand tall with arms at your sides.
Notice where your stress is located in the body. Now clench your fists and exhale through your mouth, then inhale through your nose and hold the breath.
As you hold the breath, pump your shoulders up and down until you need to exhale again. As you exhale vigorously, release your arms and hands and feel the immediate lightness and stress relief.
Repeat for a few minutes until you feel rebalanced.”
Dominique Antiglio, Sophrologist
Reduce stress with self hypnosis
“Using self-hypnosis and NLP in my daily life helps me to stay calm and relaxed.
When I go for my daily stroll (or outdoor swim in summer), I put myself
in a light trance, giving myself positive affirmations and using soothing self-talk.
Preparing while on the move helps avoid stressing. I use anchors of calm before giving a presentation. This involves visualising the situation in advance; I see and hear myself giving the perfect talk/workshop and choose how I want to feel in that moment.
That way, I feel mentally prepared. I work towards my goals in life by truly imagining how the future will look, sound, smell and even taste – and how I will feel when I’ve achieved those goals. Imagination is far stronger than willpower.”
Hilary Norris-Evans, hypnotherapist and NLP master practitioner
This article first appeared in issue 11 of Planet Mindful magazine. Join our community and make a pact to prioritise your self care – try an issue here for just 99p!