April is Stress Awareness Month, a time to deal with your stress, learn to cope with it, and help make yourself feel better. Healthcare professionals are coming together this month to help raise awareness of the real health problems that stress can cause, and provide strategies on how to banish it.
In our blog this week, Alda Arifi, Customer Liaison Officer at Mitie Client Services offers some tips on how you can relax your mind, a great start to aiding stress relief.
Deep breathing exercises – these can work wonders for your relaxation and putting your mind at ease. Practice them daily, and in times of stress, to help soothe your anxiety.
Try this technique: close your mouth and take a deep breath in through your nose. Hold your breath for seven seconds, and then exhale your breath for a count of eight seconds. Repeat this four times.
Relax with meditation – meditation can be defined as the process of clearing your mind by focusing on a specific thought, place, word(s), colour or object. Meditation has been established to have real health benefits beyond simply mental relaxation – it can also help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
To meditate, sit (kneel or lie) in a comfortable position and think (or pray) about one specific thing. It may take upwards of ten minutes in order to completely clear your mind, but here are some important tips that might help you to maximise the impact of your meditation:
- You can sit or lie down during meditation, but always keep your eyes closed to help you focus mentally/spiritually.
- Imagine a place, real or fictitious, in which you feel at peace and stress-free. Focus on being in this place, including the details of what it looks like and how you feel in it: sounds, smells, feelings, etc.
- Another common technique is to focus on your breathing while meditating. You do not have to control the breath; just simply paying attention to the breath as it naturally happens can help to clear the mind.
- It is normal for thoughts to interrupt your meditation – don’t worry about this. As soon as you notice that your mind has wandered off, bring your attention back to the specific thing you’ve chosen.
- Meditate for as long as you like, but once you have managed to clear your mind, resting for at least ten minutes can be beneficial to overall stress-levels. Playing calming meditation music can also help you to focus.
Daily habits – we all have good and bad everyday habits that affect our ability to switch-off and relax our minds, so here are a few things to think about:
- Your phone habits: for some people, social media and the amount of information we receive daily can be a stressor. It’s worth trying to spend some time away from these things to help reduce anxiety. Also avoid taking your phone/tablet/laptop to bed as this is probably not going to help your sleep routine.
- Drink plenty of water. Water is important for keeping your body well hydrated and free of toxins, which, in turn, helps your mind to focus better.
- Green tea is another healthy option; it contains natural chemicals linked to reducing stress levels.
Training your mind to relax can help you feel rested and prepared at any time, and it’s easier than you might think. When you find the methods that work for you, practice them often. In time, you’ll be able to relax more quickly and easily by creating your own healthy habits.
Here’s to a happy and stress-free April and beyond.
Alda Arifi is Customer Liaison Officer for Mitie Client Services working in the financial sector.