FEELING GREAT: Focus on managing your stress

The other day I was out in Hartlepool town centre for a coffee, and overheard a conversation on the table next to me happening between two women with new borns, and it went like this:

Friend 1: “Wouldn’t it be nice to have 5 minutes to yourself?”

Friend 2: “I’d love nothing more but I just don’t have the time. I’m constantly running around to do this and that, and by the end of the day I’m so tired so even when I do have the chance for 5 minutes to myself, all I want to do is fall asleep”.

As a dad and a business owner, I get it. Finding me time can be tough, but one of the most important things I’ve had to figure out in order to feel good and have the energy to play with my kids, is how to manage stress. A lot of people don’t even realise their lives are ruled by it!

But more than ever, stress levels are at an all time high and still climbing. On a weekly basis I even hear our patients at the physio rooms tell me they lead a stressful job, and go home to face even more stress, and most of them don’t have a clue where to begin to manage it.

Now as strange as it might sound, we do need some level of stress to go about our day. It’s that extra boost that helps us meet deadlines and reach our goals. It stops us from hitting snooze and push through the 3pm post-tea-break slump. It’s what keeps us moving.

The problem is that there’s a line. A place where it’s no longer energising but all consuming – which is when stress can become our enemy. But let’s step back a moment and look at the thing we’re not often told about… (When you’re aware of it and it’s managed) stress leaves our bodies stronger and healthier than they were prior to when we let stress take over.

The thing is, small (managed) doses of stress are good, but too much and it becomes unhealthy – and if you let it take over it can even stall your weight loss goals… make all that exercise your doing un-affective… and even bring on unwanted aches and pains.

So how can you reel it in and let stress work on your terms, so you don’t feel it’s unwanted side-affects? I’ve put together a short list of things that have helped me, which you can put into action as soon as you’ve stopped reading this article…

My first tip would be to talk about it and find a friendly ear who you know is happy to listen. Talking with friends is a great stress reliever and gets it out in the open so it’s not all bottled up in your head – making it weigh you down.

Next, get moving! I’ve said it many times, but exercise can improve your mood and makes you feel a lot better (it doesn’t have to be anything strenuous, or something you don’t look forward to). Anything from yoga, to a bootcamp style class can go a long way to improving your stress levels, helps you to focus on what you’re doing, and in turn doesn’t let you worry about anything else while you’re in the zone.

Outside of work and socialising, make some time for YOU! Whether this means turning off your phone, reading a book in the bath, or taking a walk, take some time to focus on things outside of work and your endless to-do list, and you’ll come back feeling refreshed.

I make sure to have at least one whole day away from my phone and technology so I can un-wind and enjoy some quality time with my family. Always does the trick. And if none of those ideas sound like your kind of ‘me time’, how about treating yourself to a massage? Massages work great, and that way you’ll know you have a commitment to make once it’s booked in your diary, making you more likely to stick to it. AND, who doesn’t like a nice relaxing massage to soothe your stress away?!…

To sum up, it’s time to manage your stress rather than just dealing with it.

These tips and techniques might take a few weeks/months to be incorporated into your lifestyle, but it will improve your health, happiness and productivity for the rest.

For more ways on how to stick to healthy habits and feel great no matter what age you are, click here to get your copy of Paul’s book, The Healthy Habit: www.thehealthyhabitbook.com