How do you tackle stress, anxiety, mood swings and sleep difficulties?
Physical activity describes anything that raises the heart rate above its resting rate. This could be a forest walk or a game of tennis. The NHS’ ‘Physical Activity Guidelines’ suggest that people aged 19-64 should engage in at least two and a half hours of moderately paced aerobic activity such as cycling or fast paced walking per week on order to keep their body healthy (both physically and mentally).
Physical activity combats the chances of contracting heart disease and hypertension, by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. At the same time regular exercise can reduce the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Physical exercise is also proven to improve your sleep, as it takes away worries and stress and uses up your energy, making your body wanting to rest afterwards. Therefore, physical activity contributes to greater health in various ways at the same time, while also making you fitter.
There are various relaxation techniques, such as Breathing exercises, Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Mindfulness
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive Muscle Relaxation was developed in the early 1920s by an American physician named Edmund Jacobsen. The technique is based on the principle that physical relaxation leads to mental calmness.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation teaches the relaxation of muscles through the two-step process of tensing and relaxing certain muscle groups. People are taught to recognize and distinguish the associated feelings of a tensed muscle and a completely relaxed muscle. Through repetitive practice people can then consciously induce physical muscular relaxation at the first signs of tension that usually accompanies stress and anxiety.
Using Progressive Muscle Relaxation effectively is a skill that needs to be learned, so don’t worry if you find it difficult to relax during your first few trials. It will come with practice.
One of the great benefits of Progressive Muscle Relaxation is that it is adaptable to fit various situations and therefore it is easy to integrate in your everyday life. You do not have to go through all the muscle groups but can focus on certain ones that fit the situation or ones that are most beneficial to you. You can also adjust the length of the technique, ranging from a few minutes to hours. You can engage in it while lying down, sitting or even standing. So no matter if at work on your office chair or in the queue at a supermarket till once you have mastered the technique you will be able to use it in various situations.
The concept of Mindfulness stems from ancient elements of Buddhist tradition. It is the practise to bring one’s attention to internal and external occurrences taking place in the present moment, often achieved by different methods of meditation.
Inspired by these practices Professor Mark Williams of Oxford University co-developed mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), which has proven to be as effective as drugs in treating and preventing depression. A lot of the techniques used in MBCT proved to be helpful as well for those who are not struggling with clinical depression but still wish to find more peace and relaxation in their stressful daily lives.
As with all things worth learning Mindfulness takes some practice to master. Don’t worry if at first you keep getting distracted and find it hard to relax or be in the moment. Be patient with yourself.
Notice the Everyday: Get in the habit of paying attention to small things. The wind on your face, sounds, smells, tastes you would normally not notice
Keep it regular: Pick one time, task or occasion each day during which you want to be consciously aware of the world around you and how it effects you
Try something new: Simple acts like eating at a new restaurant can help you perceive the world differently
Watch your thoughts: The goal is not to get rid of thoughts that make you anxious or stressed but rather to notice when and why they occur and to understand you don’t have to follow them
Meditate: Make time to just sit quietly and pay attention to signals of your body, breathing. Whenever your mind starts to wander escort it back to the moment
Ways to improve your sleep
To stay mentally and physically healthy you need to get enough good quality sleep. The NHS recommends that adults and older adults should get 6-9 hours of sleep each night. However, most of us don’t get enough sleep each night. So, if you have difficulties sleeping you are not alone.
What can you do to improve your sleep? Have a look at our leaflet, for tips to improve your sleep.
If you would like additional advice or support in reducing your stress and anxiety levels, in managing your moods or improving your sleep please contact us.