Now a globally recognised event, International Stress Awareness Day (INSAD) is something we have championed since we established Tonic in 2004 hence this being our 13th successful year supporting the International Stress Management Association (ISMA).
As an authority on stress, lead professional body, it helps us to provide information on stress, and strategies on how to address it. This year the theme is Speak Up and Speak Out About Stress!
Stress can be a real killer, both in the workplace and in our day to day lives. Yes, it serves an essential purpose in human biology, but our modern lives have brought about a surplus of causes resulting in stress often becoming chronic and dangerous to our health – mentally and physically if not managed. Whether you’re dealing with a job that puts you under too much pressure, or you face struggles in your personal life – anything that leaves you in a state of anxiety, stress and / or uncertainty can be massively detrimental to your health. INSAD is about heightening awareness of the stress in our lives today and how it can negatively affect us if we do not speak up.
Failure to deal with stress in your life effectively can lead to serious health problems, including increased blood pressure, susceptibility to heart disease, and a decline in your immune system. Once you start experiencing these symptoms they can landslide into each other, resulting in growing ill-health, and by extension, more stress. It’s truly a self-feeding problem, and a cycle that is imperative to break in order to enjoy a healthy, happy stress-free life!
The best way to participate in Stress Awareness Day is to take the opportunity to talk openly with either friends, colleagues, family members of even a professional; to try to remove stress from your life even if it’s just for the day. Take time to examine your life and find out where your stressors lie – this is KEY! Start considering taking steps to remove them or find ways to mitigate them. Removing stress from your life can start off as a difficult experience but organisations like Tonic can provide 1-2-1 coaching programmes, group workshops & training to develop strategies to support you, your colleagues and your company!
Stress can be a killer, so act now and start living a happier, more mindful life! Anyone can be mindful for a moment or two, but developing your “mindfulness muscle” means that you must take things to a higher level. In today’s world it’s all too easy to get distracted from what’s truly important. There are no reminders to be mindful unless we create them. The responsibility is in your hands but don’t worry we are here to help!
“Staying in the present moment can dramatically reduce stress, increase your happiness, and give you bursts of insight that might change your life”
As you start to become aware of your thoughts and staying in the now, your life will improve significantly. Here are a few down-to-earth tips on how to help you:
We all have our unique tendencies that distract us from the present moment. I can be a worrier, so I tend to overthink about future events and even try to solve problems before they happen. What are your tendencies? What kind of thoughts tend to rob you of the now? These questions will help you become more mindful about what is going on in your head, which in turn leads to mindfulness. A few examples of tendencies that are very common are: anxiety, worry, regret, guilt and fear.
Once you start becoming mindful of your tendencies, it’s crucial that you don’t judge yourself. Practice acceptance and embrace who you are. The tendencies you have are there for a reason. They are signposts pointing to the areas of your life that need attention. If you’re a chronic worrier, you need to start noticing whenever you begin drifting to the future.
“Become mindful, observe your thoughts and breathe. We believe our thoughts to be the authority on life, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Our thoughts are just thoughts, not our reality”!
Your thoughts aren’t always right. In fact, they are rarely right, especially if they make you feel bad. Question your thoughts constantly. When you start to feel negative emotions, use it as a reminder to examine what thoughts are causing the commotion. Many of us walk around all day letting negative thoughts cause negative feelings. NOTHING good can come out of this. It takes discipline to be mindful, but the rewards are calm and happiness. Negative emotions not only have the power to make you feel bad, but can affect your physical health as well. So, whenever a negative thought arises, take a step back, and look at if the thought is actually your reality?!
Your breath is a powerful and simple way to anchor yourself in the present moment. Whenever you are having a hard time staying in the now, take deep breaths, and focus on your breathing. A variety of deep-breathing exercises can be used to promote health, improve mental performance and enhance feelings of wellbeing. Conscious abdominal breathing is one of the simplest deep breathing exercises to learn, as it only requires that you pay attention to breathing from your tummy. You could even count your breaths. Something I like to do is count a 10 second breath – 3 on the inhale, 2 on the hold and 5 on the exhale. Working towards 6 slow, deep, diaphragmatic breaths per minute. Another popular technique to try is 4-7-8 breathing. Whatever rhythm you choose – the goal of any paced breathing is to reduce the stress chemicals your brain produces and promote the relaxation response. (NOTE: with normal breathing, you take about 12 – 14 breaths per minute).
Increasing the time, you spend in the present moment can be hard work. If you’re serious about becoming more mindful, you must be determined. There will be times when you feel like you want to throw in the towel. You will face challenges, and obstacles but if you’re determined, you will get through them. Focus on what makes you come alive, and keeps you in the present moment? When does inspiration flow effortlessly? Find your passion and believe in your efforts. Becoming more mindful is done step-by-step. You do not have to go all-in. You simply need to increase the amount of time you spend in the present daily – little by little.
If you’re interested in finding out more about our reducing stress levels in the workplace or perhaps having us deliver our 90 minute wellbeing workshops on relaxation – simply call us today and help from a Tonic practitioner is just one call away! Take a positive step this Stress Awareness Day and contact us on 0333 444 7 365 or ask us a question on our Contact Form here
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