Top Ten Tips to Beat Stress

We have access to time- and labour-saving devices beyond the dreams of any previous generation. Yet poor time-management skills and resultant stress seem a more common problem than ever before. Do you recognise yourself in any of these common patterns? * Feel overwhelmed by the pressures of modern living * Can't say no * Difficulty setting (and/or achieving) your goals * Can't switch off at the end of the day * Have problems finding time for the things and people that really matter * Repeated procrastination * Beset by interruptions, emergencies and deadlines Try these top tips to beat stress. 1) One of the best ways of relaxing is to take some gentle exercise - 20 minutes every day or half an hour three times a week.

Suggestions: take a brisk walk to work - even getting off the bus or train one stop earlier can help. Use an exercise bike while you watch TV or read a book. Take up a new (active) hobby such as dancing or swimming. If you have any form of heart condition, remember to check with your GP before you increase your levels of exercise. 2) Try meditating. The aim is to still your mental confusion and produce a state of calm which will relax your body and increase mental clarity.

Sit quietly in a chair with your head supported and both feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and as you exhale focus on a word to suit your circumstances (examples: peace, love, calm). Breathe deeply several times. If you still find it hard to relax, imagine yourself on a beach in the sunshine - enjoy feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin, hear the lapping of the waters. The troubled thoughts of the day will try to force themselves into your mind, don't worry.

Just calmly put them to one side. Do this regularly for only ten minutes every day (more if you can spare the time) and you'll soon feel the benefits. 3) If meditating is 'too much' for you, just spend some time each day alone and in silence. Research in Paris found that talking can send your blood-pressure through the roof! Silence and a good book may have a calming effect. 4) Laughter is one of the best ways to relieve tension - it exercises muscles in your face and abdomen and the bigger the belly laugh the greater the effect.

Studies have shown that laughing can boost your immune system and even lower your blood pressure. Laughter releases endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, which can increase your feel-good-factor. You may have to seek out cartoons or even think of silly incidents from your childhood to get you started, but make it a habit - and try and get workmates and family in on the act.

You'll all feel better for it. However if you really don't feel like laughing don't let that stop you - even fake laughter can have a beneficial effect as the 'laughter' muscles can't tell the difference! 5) A glass of red wine in the evening may help you unwind - but don't overdo it, restrict yourself to one glass a day for women or two for men! 6) Using a few drops of Camomile, Marjoram, Ylang-ylang, Sandalwood, Patchouli or Neroli essential oils in your bath at bed-time can help you relax after a hectic day. Make sure the bath isn't too hot, as this could raise your blood pressure.

7) To help promote sleep, avoid eating late in the day - ideally allow three hours between your last meal and bedtime. When you do eat, make sure you're sitting at a table concentrating on the meal in front of you, don't snatch meals on the run, while working or watching television. If your posture is poor when you eat your digestive processes can be hampered, food may linger too long and sleep can be disturbed - let alone leaving yourself wide open to a range of digestive problems. 8) Learn to say 'No'.

There are only 24 hours in the day. Be careful what you agree to take on. 9) Every day make some time just for you to do something YOU want to do. It could be reading, a lovely relaxing bath, a brisk walk or even something challenging that you've always wanted to do such as learning a new language. Any of these could help you feel better about yourself.

Initially you may find you have difficulty setting aside 'you' time, so block out half an hour in your diary every day to give yourself permission! If you have a family, don't feel guilty about this - the whole family will benefit when your stress levels are reduced. 10) Many people find they can rebalance their 'Wheel of Life' more quickly with the aid of a life coach. To find out more about how coaching can help you with stress and time management, visit my website (see below). Contact me with any questions, or just request my free monthly newsletter to help you in various areas of your life, from "Keeping New Years Resolutions", going through the year - month by month - to "Christmas, A time For Special Relationships".

Joy Healey is a qualified life-coach, conducting telephone or face-to-face sessions. To learn more about coaching visit her website for a free monthly newsletter to help you in various areas of your life.


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