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Dear Stress, let’s break up

After the events of 2020 so far, is anyone NOT stressed? Here’s the good news, whilst stress is all around us, our everyday habits can help us tackle stress head on. 

Move More – if you are an exercise avoider (like me,) you will always be able to find something more enjoyable to do than get active. The benefits of moving more, sitting less and getting active for our physical and mental health are undeniable and well documented. A mere 20 minutes of activity has been shown to improve our mood for up to 12 hours so making time as part of our morning routine can help you deal with stressful triggers the day may present.

Mindfulness and Meditation – Psychological research has shown when our minds wander we are more likely to be unhappy and research from Harvard shows our minds wander up to 47% of the time! Cultivating a mindful approach to the day to day routine helps us focus and be present which helps us feel happier and more optimistic. A regular formal practice of Meditation has been shown to improve anxiety, depression, pain quality of life  as well as maintaining a healthy mind and increase wellbeing 

Practice Appreciation and Gratitude – Many studies have shown the link between being grateful and elevated levels of positive feelings. Described as foundation of wellbeing, gratitude has been shown to decrease depression, increase resilience, improve sleep decrease risk of heart disease and improve relationships. Why? Taking time to express gratitude helps us slow down and focus on the present rather than being distracted by the ‘to do list’. 

Forgiveness – whilst forgiving those who have hurt or harmed us in some way is not easy, the act of forgiving helps our own wellbeing and has been shown to have significant health benefits

The Stanford Forgiveness project has demonstrated that forgiveness reduces stress, anger depression and help with feelings of optimism, as well as supporting our immune system and reducing our risk of heart disease and chronic pain. 

Social Networks – connecting with those we care about can have a buffering effect on stress. Supportive positive relationships work both ways – a study of 700 older adults showed that those who gave love and support to others reported significantly fewer health issues. 

Sleep – Recognising your sleep is suffering is a corner stone of our mental health and wellbeing. Simple steps to help with sleep include switching devices off in the evening, avoiding caffeine after 2pm, keeping your bedroom cool and having a notebook by your bed to write down worries that pop into your mind before bed. 

Keep Well

Dr Clara Russell