International Stress Awareness Week

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I don't think any of us live stress-free. We live in a busy world, and it's becoming increasingly difficult to switch off and find some downtime.

However, if we don't take the time to unwind and re-balance, it can lead to negative states such as anxiety, depression and anger - to name just a few.

In Ayurveda, my dosha type or Prakriti is vata/pitta. The vata in me means that I go about my day at a fast pace - always on the move and trying to fit just one more thing into the day. The pitta means that everything I do needs to be organised and done to perfection. Talk about pressure, no wonder I get stressed so easily!

In my twenties, I had this push push mentality, especially with my work, so I was living in a constant state of stress. It eventually led to burn out.

Now in my wiser years (🙃), I am much better at observing my behaviour and picking up on the physical and emotional signals of stress arising. Fortunately, I can usually nip it in the bud before it escalates out of control.

Here are a few grounding activities or rituals that I try to make time for, especially when I feel the stress levels rising.

Breathe

Always my first port of call when I'm feeling stressed or anxious. Deep breathing is easy to do and can be done anywhere, and yet it is so effective. Try five to ten rounds of slow deep inhales and exhales next time you are feeling stressed.  

Pranayama is another breathing exercise which I always go to when I'm feeling stressed or anxious.  

Alternate nostril breathing or Nadi Shodhana is deliciously soothing, and grounding and never fails to get me back on an even keel.

Move

Exercise releases endorphins the feel-good hormone - we've all experienced that endorphin buzz we get after a good work out.

That said, you don't need a strenuous workout to feel the benefits. If you're already feeling wired/frazzled/stressed, the last thing your body needs is a high impact workout! Gentle exercises such as yin yoga are much better for calming the nervous system or just a walk outdoors (preferably in nature) can do wonders.

Meditate

I, for one, know how difficult it can be to quiet that incessant voice in the head. You might have heard the term the monkey mind - that constant chitter-chatter is enough to drive anyone into a stressed-out frenzied state.

Meditation doesn't necessarily remove that voice or the never-ending stream of thinking. From my experience, however, it does allow you the space to observe and witness 'it' rather than 'be it' and detangle yourself from those thoughts.

Chat over tea

I, like a lot of people, have a tendency to bottle things up to avoid a fuss and burdening others with my problems. The danger with this is, over time, we are stuffing ourselves up with negative and stressful emotions which sooner or later, the body has to release.

Over the years, my friends and I have come to realise that we need to open up during challenging times. We've all found that after talking about whatever it is that is troubling us, the weight is lifted. The saying a problem shared is a problem halved is so true.

We have a rule now that when any one of us feels the pressure building, we meet for coffee (or herbal tea in my case 😇) and talk things through. We usually end up having a giggle at the serious issue as when it is put into perspective, the problem is never really as bad as it seemed to be.

Self-care

Most of us spend our days rushing around like Duracell bunnies always doing and rushing to the next task while neglecting our own needs. A sure-fire recipe for stress!  

After living the majority of my adult life in this state, I'm now learning the art of slowing down and consciously make an effort to make time in the day for me. This is often as simple as a hot aromatic bath at the end of the day away from the chaos (arguing siblings, barking dog and husband) going off in the rest of the house.

Lighting an aromatherapy candle and adding therapeutic salts to the water is deliciously and nurturing. In fact, I've fallen in love with Wilder Botanics bath salts so much I feel that my bath is missing something without them.

Another one to try is abhyanga (self-massage) using warm sesame oil which is incredibly nourishing and soothing. I love this ritual and try to make time for it at least once a week.


To help you de-stress..

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Golden milk is a warm and nourishing nectar which helps to replenish the nervous system. The calming properties of warm milk, nutmeg and ashwagandha make it the perfect drink to have before bed.


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