Take a break

MS / 31 October 2016

I didn't intend to plant that particular seed, rather the seed of actually taking a breather. National Stress Awareness Day falls this year on 2nd November and I know that this year the focus is on Workplace Wellbeing. So I thought it might be helpful to share with you one or two tips for reducing your stress and anxiety levels at any time and in any location. No meditation required.

I recently attended a course about anxiety which has really helped me, not just for myself, but also for my practice. I learned that both are negative emotions: stress is experienced when we are unable to bridge the gap between requirements and expectations placed upon us (note, sometimes they are placed there by ourselves); whilst anxiety is the expectation of a future threat, both real and imagined. Both have very different behavioural signs, but similar physiological ones.

The physical symptoms are our natural response to a fight/flight scenario. They include rapid breathing and heart rate, shakiness, feeling faint, nausea, brain freeze etc. In chronic cases, there'll be asthma, eczema, high blood pressure, migraine and so on and so on.  The thing to hold onto here is that the physiological response is entirely natural which means that there are things we can do to mitigate the response.

So wherever you are right now, I want you to breathe in to the count of 7 and breathe out to the count of 11. Right now. And again. And again. What do you notice? You've just been oxygenating your system, which will help clear your mind and lower your heart rate. Both help us to rationalise rather than catastrophize.

Stress and anxiety all too often cause us to freeze and do nothing. So wherever you are, commit to taking a 10 minute break at regular intervals during the day. Just 10 minutes. Go for a walk round the block, stroke the cat, soak in a bath (preferably all of those!).

Prolonged stress or anxiety creates chronic mental and physical health challenges. Maybe you suffer or know someone that does. Come and talk to us about it and regain control of your wellbeing.

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