Everyone is stressed, in some way or another, all external factors have some stress effects on each and every one of us – he who is not stressed is dead. There are of course different levels of stress, some having positive effects and some having negative ones, this can have different impacts upon us from tiny barely noticeable stress factors to those that can debilitate and seriously damage our health and happiness.
However, stress has always been a taboo subject – rarely will people admit that stress is impacting them negatively. It is an invisible force and people’s pride can get in the way of admitting they are a little bit out of their depth.
Being a sports fan and an keen amateur sportsman, I draw a lot of parallels when it comes to stress and sports…sure you can train every day…wake up every day in pain…push through the pain and train again…but this process means you are never training to your full potential….by using a combination of foam rollers, sports massages, stretching, yoga and the right nutrition I can go back every day and smash training harder than before. So, like work and life, sure you can just push the stress deep down…carry on everyday a little more fatigued, a little more tired, a little more de-motivated…but by taking steps to lower your stress levels you can wake up every day and smash it ten times harder than before.
DISCLAIMER: Just to clarify I am not a stress expert or a doctor, if you have serious issues with stress you should seek professional help.
But, having spent a lot of time researching and trying different methods…here are my top tips for busting stress. It is important to remember that lowering stress is a personal journey and you should use methods that work for you…but a little inspiration:
Personally I love keeping active, but with a busy work and social life my activity levels can ebb and flow over time – it took me a while to realise there is a fair correlation between my activity levels and stress levels…the more active, the less stress…I know this to be the same for many others as well. Although the thought of going to the gym, for a run, or playing team sports can be the last thing on your mind when your stressed can be daunting, it is worth the effort.
There are some great articles here on how activity helps combat stress….my personal favourite…de-stressing through Pokémon-Go: http://www.stress.org.uk/category/10-step-stress-solution/get-moving-to-combat-stress/
Personally I love aggressive sports such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing and Weightlifting….no better way to destroy stress than pushing your body to its limits in defence of your life!
I’m going to kick this one off by admitting I was massively sceptical about yoga when it was first brought to me as an idea…half an hour of humming and post-session talks about tofu is getting fairly close to my worst nightmare. However, when my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor announced we had post-training yoga sessions arranged I thought ‘why the hell not’…and it was awesome, no humming to yourself and no vegetable based discussion at all. Yoga has hit the mainstream in recent years and is now practised by everyone from professional dancers to American football players.
So why great for busting stress?
It is all to do with taking the time to take stock of your own situation and get a feel for your body and its surroundings. How often do we just take time to stop and breathe these days? When practising yoga I often finish knowing exactly where I have tension in all my muscles, I feel more relaxed and can take a calmer approach to the day.
Personally I would recommend Ashtanga yoga…here is a great video I used to learn the basics….topless and tight shorts optional, but not recommended…
Sleep it off
Ok, everyone knows getting the right amount of sleep is a great way to destress…but if you’re anything like me, getting the required 7, 8, 9, or whatever they recommend now hours of sleep a night is hella difficult. From personal experience I always TRY and get 8 hours sleep, but for me – quality is better than length (no innuendo intended), but how do we achieve this?
I have very little routine in my days, but one time I do work hard to keep the same is the 60 minutes before my head hits the pillow…to be honest different things work for different people when it comes to unwinding, I do 20-30 minutes of stretching/yoga, drink a pint of water and read. One golden rule though – no bright screens…switch your phone off (or onto silent), TV off, laptop off.
Let’s talk about it
O, man, this one can be difficult.
Talking about what stresses you out can be difficult, especially when you don’t know what it is that is stressing. Solution – just chat, make sure every week or two you grab a coffee with a friend you know you can unload on…30 minutes of general chat and questions will usually highlight a few issues that are getting you down – most importantly, make sure you note these down…and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT…the only time you should be repeating issues with a friend is an update on what you have done about it.