It feels as though stress is beginning to go hand in hand with modern life and the mind-bending speed of technological advances, coupled with demanding jobs & lifestyles, topped off with a global pandemic is a very dangerous recipe for our health.
“If you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralised and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself.” – Dalai Lama
Stress can make us feel out of control of our own bodies and emotions, it’s demoralising and affects our self esteem, mental, physical & emotional health too… Stress can cause mental health problems & make existing problems worse. Chronic stress affects nearly every system in the body, disrupting the digestive system, suppressing the immune system, reproductive system & speeds up the ageing process!
So, now we’ve got your attention, how can you take your Power back, reduce stress and avoid burnout?
No. 1: Make some time for reflection
We can very easily create routines and habits that aren’t good for our health and over the past 18 months, many of us have had our normal routines and work/life balance turned completely upside down.
Take some time out to reflect on what is causing you to feel stressed or exhausted at the moment; is it down to the hours you’re working, not having enough time for yourself, a relationship, unhealthy habits forming or something else?
Make a list of everything that is making you feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious, get it all out and remember that no one will see the list so be honest with yourself. Identifying what is causing you to feel stressed is the first step in learning what you need to do to make lasting changes for your health & wellbeing.
No. 2: Start your day more mindfully
Studies suggest that the way we start our day can affect our mood for the rest of the day so how you spend your morning really matters. If you’re used to rolling out of bed after snoozing the alarm multiple times, rushing around to throw some clothes on in a panic to get to work on time you’re starting your day on the back foot.
Start by waking up 10 minutes earlier than you do currently & give yourself that time to do something mindful such as:
- Gratitude practice
- Mindful movement
After one week see if you can increase the time to 20 minutes then 30 minutes, slowly creating a lasting habit for yourself.
No. 3: Remember to breathe
Breath is an incredible tool for reducing the physiological and mental symptoms of stress & avoiding burn out. 10 minutes of breath-work each day can help to build mental resilience, improve cardiovascular functioning, soothe & strengthen the nervous system amongst many many other benefits.
Try bringing both hands to rest below your navel and breathing through the nose. Start to send your breath down to the lower belly. Feel the lower abdomen rise on your inhale and fall on your exhale. Continue this, clearing the mind and focusing on slowing down the breath, using the full capacity of your lungs.
Check out our new MWTV platform for our Breath-work for Stress & Anxiety course.
No. 4: Reduce your screen-time before bed
Non-stop alerts, adverts, notifications & blue-light can increase our stress levels and keep us in alert mode, making it very hard to switch off and get a decent night’s sleep. Try to limit your screen time, especially before you want to go to sleep. Try to take breaks throughout the day and set a time in the evening that you turn off your devices and start to wind down so you’re able to get a good night’s sleep.
Not getting enough sleep can make stress worse, check out our blog Spring Clean Your Sleep Routine for more.
No. 5: Give yourself a break
Most of us could benefit from being a little kinder to ourselves and give ourselves a break when we’re feeling run down and stressed out. That doesn’t have to mean taking a sabbatical or quitting your job (though that might feel tempting!), it might mean:
- Giving yourself permission to slow down a little and rest when you can
- Taking regular breaks throughout the day
- Saying No to plans or extra commitments so you can make some time for yourself
- Speaking to yourself with more compassion
- Putting your health & wellbeing as a priority
- Planning a few days off or a holiday so you have something to look forward to
- Listening to your body, if you’re feeling run down or staring to get sick, it probably means you need a break or to make some changes to your routine
“I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.” – Kristen Neff
About Liz Joy Oakley
Liz Joy Oakley is Yoga Teacher, Holistic Wellbeing Coach and Head of Vibes at MoreYoga, co-running our MoreMind Project with Stephanie Minchin, coordinating events, content and workshops focused on better supporting our communities mental and physical wellbeing. After starting her career in the fast-paced world of luxury fashion Liz came to Yoga after being diagnosed with Malignant Hypertension and Generalized Anxiety and left with the goal of helping others to lead healthier lives holistically. Liz went on to spent a year working at the Safe Childhoods Foundation in Indonesia, an NGO committed to combatting organized crimes against children, she began to understand the true benefits of Yoga, Meditation and Psychology as therapeutic tools and describes this as a time of total transformation.
Now back in London, Liz is passionate about helping people achieve a healthier, happier lifestyle through her work. She loves bringing people together, encouraging authentic connection and is happiest when facilitating retreats, workshops and events based around Yoga, Positive Psychology and Holistic Wellbeing.
Liz teaches Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin & Restorative Yoga, specialising in teaching Yoga, Mindfulness & Meditation to improve stress & anxiety. She combines this with her work as a Holistic Wellbeing Coach & is dedicated to spreading Joy through her work.