Have you ever noticed yourself feeling run down, worn out and emotionally numb when stress levels are soaring? You might feel like you’re carrying the weight of your worries on your shoulders, and you wouldn’t be wrong.
Knowing how to listen to your body can help you identify when you might need to take some rest and look after yourself. In this article, we look at the connection between the body and mind and explore healthier ways to respond to stressful times, so that you can find a little extra peace!
A bit of stress here and there is perfectly okay. It might push you to meet deadlines or walk faster when you’re late or sense danger and seek safety. But overactive and prolonged stress levels can be physically damaging, as the mind is intrinsically connected with the body.
Why Does Stress Manifest Itself Physically?
It’s all down to a science. When you encounter a stressful situation or thought, your brain transmits signals that release a steroid hormone called cortisol into the body. Cortisol, also known as the body’s natural alarm system, regulates certain processes in the body such as your immune system and digestive functions. However, much like anything out of balance, this hormone can put your health at risk when overactive.
Long term effects include increased risk of heart attacks, arthritis and memory issues.
Why Is It Important to Listen to Your Body?
We all get aches and pains sometimes, but persistent headaches, digestive issues or muscle pains could be your body’s way of telling you to rest and make changes to your lifestyle! Prolonged stress causes muscles to tense up in a fight or flight response. So, if you notice (in particular) your back, shoulders and neck aching, it could be that your body is signalling to you to do some stress relief exercises.
Here are some ways you can destress easily in your day-to-day life:
1. Exercise Regularly
Exercise increases the body’s ability to absorb oxygen, increasing blood flow and releasing endorphins, effectively de-stressing the body and loosening your muscles (remember to warm up first!). A little bit of regular exercise will release tension from the body and help you think clearer too, as you focus on the present moment and let your stressful thoughts go.
Your body restores and repairs itself during deep sleep, so keeping an eye on your sleep cycles and ensuring you are getting proper rest is essential to staying healthy and keeping stress levels at bay.
What is it that is stressing you out? How can you tackle this? Getting to the root cause of stress will help you to navigate your way through it. If it is work, for example, you may need to consider cutting back your hours or organising your life so that you have enough time for yourself. If it’s a deeper issue that is troubling you, you could consider some talking therapy.
4. Strike Balance
Make sure you are taking time to have fun and let go. When your life is dominated by stress, your body will begin to feel it. Have a bath, go for a walk somewhere stunning, see your friends and family, and find new hobbies that give you pleasure.
This is useful for short term symptoms of stress, such as feeling tight chested and short-breathed, or to alleviate aches in your muscles. Getting your body moving and controlling your breathing pattern can help you to centre yourself and calm down.
Our emotional worlds manifest in physical symptoms in the body. But this works in both ways: when we smile and rest and experience joy, it boosts our immune system and fights stress and aches. So, it is important to have a healthy balanced lifestyle with plenty of rest and quality time for you!
For more help managing your health, wellbeing and lifestyle, contact us at Ceed today!
Work stress can make you feel like you are trapped at work. It might play on your mind constantly, even at home, while relaxing. We, at Ceed, would like to help you to eliminate this feeling and separate your work and home life.
Work stress, simply put, is the feeling of stress at (and caused by) work. This can stem from work related problems like conflicting demands, deadlines, overworking or a lack of passion.
Here are a few ways to lower and ultimately eliminate your work stress levels:
Don’t allow the monster of work stress to drag you down further. It can eventually lead to depression, or a severe spike in health problems. Once you’re done working, take a look at the work you have completed today. Take it all in like a beautiful sunset and think to yourself: “I’ve done that.”
Take pride in what you accomplish each day for you are valued: as a friend, colleague, and family. Recognise the value of your effort and work, as others do. Although they may not verbally acknowledge your effort, your employers understand your importance as a part of their operation and you should too.
Every day, as long as you are accomplishing something you can take pride in yourself, and this positivity can help re-ignite a passion in your work life, reducing work stress as a whole.
No-one can force you to speak to your manager, but if you have the confidence then please do. This is the easiest way for your manager to understand what you are going through and adjust the situation as needed for you.
However, you can also speak to your friends and family about these issues, or perhaps other colleagues. There are so many people in the world going through what you are, and many have advice that helped them or wished had helped them in the past. Listen to their words, but take some with a grain of salt!
Whatever you do, do not ignore work stress, even if its symptoms are miniscule. The more exposed you are to it, the more severe your symptoms can become.
Relaxing and Taking it Easy
Many people don’t understand how to deal with work stress and think it’s normal. The truth is it is and isn’t at the same time. Stress is a natural thing that happens to everyone, even animals. One of the easiest ways to get rid of work stress is to relax your body and mind.
Whether that is by:
Listening to music
Watching TV or movies
Or even just having a chat with friends and family.
There are lots of different ways to relax, but try everything and find out which works best for you. Maybe if listening to music works best you could see if you can wear earphones at work to relieve stress.
But all in all, do what you love and treat yourself; order that Chinese, stay in bed all day on your day off, take a sick day off if you feel extremely stressed. Just do whatever you need to make yourself feel happy, and stress-free.
Lack of passion for a job is usually a work stress issue, as it can slow your productivity down as you see no reason to carry on doing it.
Ask yourself: is this the right job for you?
If your answer is no, then perhaps look for a new job, maybe something that’s totally different to what you’re doing right now. This could be as drastic as going from retail to police work. It’s hard to predict how a job is going to be before working there so do some research and check reviews online. Indeed and Glassdoor have the option to check company reviews.
If your answer is yes, then there are a couple of things you can do:
Find meaning in your work
Seek new opportunities at work.
This could even be taking a health and safety course. A change in environment even momentarily can be great for the brain, and maybe even make you miss your current environment. The section below can also help re-ignite that passion.
It’s easy to finish a work day on autopilot, not realising how much you have actually done. Some people feel like they haven’t done enough, and others feel like they have done too much. Set yourself goals, and choose rewards for reaching those goals.
This can help to fulfil you mentally, and make you more focused on your work. It pushes you to motivate yourself to get those goals completed and instil pride in yourself.
Reward yourself with a short break, or a snack or drink you like. Set realistic goals that you know you can complete.
Don’t be unrealistic or not realistic enough. Maybe you serve 60 customers a day? Let’s make goals based on that multiple. So, maybe a reward every 20 customers. That brings you to at least 3 rewards.
Obviously, don’t go overboard with snacks as rewards as this may affect your eating habits. For some healthy options, check out this article we made to help you with foods that can lift your mood.
The fact is: you aren’t alone. There will always be people there who have experienced and felt the same as you in some way.
There are mountains of websites, pages, and social media apps that allow interaction between you and like-minded people. Talking to them can help you to develop and advice can be applied to your own situation, so as to not repeat the same mistakes as others. Not everyone is correct in their advice though, so be warned!
Here are a few websites where you can utilise to find specific pages for help:
Parenting can be hard work. It’s not always going to be easy. Watching your children grow is extremely rewarding but there will be challenges along the way and if you’re reading this now, you might be facing a tough time. But not to worry – we are here to help.
Parents’ wellbeing is a challenging task alongside childcare and often overlooked. We emphasise the importance of caring for our children but not caring for ourselves.
Therefore, we have come up with a parent’s guide to managing your health and wellbeing that we think will help.
Here are some things to remember:
It’s ok to make mistakes – You don’t have to be perfect. We are all fallible beings. We naturally make mistakes – we get things wrong and shout sometimes. You are not a bad person. If you find yourself losing your control, make sure to apologise to your child and explain why it happened. They will learn from you that it’s okay to make mistakes and it doesn’t make you a bad person.
Talk to your child – Even young children can understand about feelings and behaviour if you give them a chance to talk about it. With open and honest communication, you can understand one another more and hopefully alleviate some stress.
Look after yourself – it is important to take some time for yourself. Looking after yourself involves looking after your relationships, your health and your wellbeing. If you don’t look after yourself – how are you going to properly look after your children? Have a nice relaxing bath, see a friend, take your mind off things with a captivating book. Whatever it is, allow time to enjoy yourself. Everyone needs to be a little selfish sometimes.
It’s okay to ask for help – if you’re struggling, it’s okay to reach out for support from friends, families and organisations that are there to help.
How To Better Manage Your Wellbeing as a Parent
Looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally will help your child grow and thrive.
Manage stress by making time for yourself and seeking help.
If you have a partner, you can look after your relationship with open communication.
1. Recognise when you feel overwhelmed
Being overwhelmed can lead to:
Feeling tired all the time
Being irritable and impatient
Stress and anxiety
Lack of motivation
Poor eating habits
General negative thinking.
The stress caused by these symptoms can also impact our physical health. Therefore, it is important to find ways to help combat that overwhelmed feeling. Our next tips focus on a few simple ways that can help you achieve this.
Take a few minutes to write down all the things that are causing you stress and anxiety. And once you have your list, identify what things you can tackle immediately and those that might take a bit longer.
For example, say you:
Have difficulty getting off to sleep
Have money worries
Worry about you or your partner’s job security
Find it difficult to manage your child’s behaviour.
You can now separate these into two sections, something you can tackle immediately:
Thinking about all of these will no doubt cause a sense of anxiety and a feeling of being overwhelmed, however, if we separate them out, we can clearly see what’s easy to tackle and what might take longer to resolve.
By reordering the list to prioritise what we can tackle effectively first we can reduce some stress and that feeling of being overwhelmed. Recognising what is causing that stress and anxiety and creating a sense of order means you can think clearly and plan action, tackling one worry at a time.
Saying yes is a lot easier than saying no and we often agree to things that can negatively impact our health and wellbeing. Don’t overload yourself trying to fit additional tasks into an already busy schedule.
Our mind needs fuel from a healthy diet to function well. Following a balanced regular diet will help prevent irritability and enabled us to concentrate better. Research has shown that if you eat a diet high in processed meats, fried foods and high fat dairy products, you’re more likely to be anxious and depressed.
Fruits and vegetables have great healing, restorative powers. So here are a few foods that can boost and maintain your mental wellness:
Yoghurt has probiotics that assist in lowering levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as salmon can help improve short-term and long-term memory and reduce anxiety.
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries contain antioxidants that improve symptoms associate with anxiety and depression.
Finding the perfect balance between your professional and personal life can be challenging, but it’s essential for your overall well-being. Our drive and desire to achieve professionally can often harm our own successes.
Creating a perfect work-life balance will improve not only your physical, emotional and mental well-being but it’s also crucial for your career. If you’re struggling to achieve the perfect work-life balance, you’re not alone. Here are some useful tips to help you achieve the perfect balance!
1. Manage Your Time
Time management is key. This will determine the work-life balance you maintain each day. Ways of improving your time management include:
Create a timeline of your activities for one week. Make sure to include family commitments
Prioritiseyour tasks in accordance to their importance
Avoid multitasking. Focus on one task at a time
Learnto say “no”
We don’t have unlimited hours in the day. Be honest and let people know if you can’t take on additional tasks at the moment. Remember, your time is valuable!
2. Set Specific Personal and Professional Goals
There are many benefits to setting specific personal and professional goals. When your goals are clearly articulated, you can complete tasks with a strong sense of direction and a better focus. Take your list of priorities and turn them into specific and measurable goals. These can include:
Walk thirty minutes a day, five days a week.
Speak to a family member for an hour once a week.
Take twenty-five minutes once a week to reflect on success and achievements.
Decrease a website’s bounce rate by 10% in six months.
Moving through the challenges of perfectionism is difficult. Here are some tips to help you achieve this:
Practice self-awareness. Remember that you already possess some level of self-awareness to realise that perfectionism is causing issues for you.
Realise that no one is perfect.
Nevercompare yourself to others. You are on your own journey. When you compare yourself to others, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.
Set realistic goals and remember to reward yourself as you achieve them.
4. Establish Boundaries
Setting boundaries between work and home is important in achieving the perfect work-life balance. This can be done by:
Establishing fair and realistic limits on what you will do / will not do both at work and at home.
Communicate this clearly to your supervisor, coworkers, partner and family.
For example, a boundary you could set is not checking or responding to work-related emails whilst at home.
5. Leave Work at Work
Disconnecting from work at home isn’t easy. To get the most of our time off and leave work at work we need to be deliberate in how we end our days. This can be done by:
Writing tomorrow’s to-do list today.
Remove the expectation of thinking about work outside of work hours.
Maketime for your interests and pursue your hobbies.
6. Make Time for You
Making time for yourself and doing things that you love is important. Doing so will energise and refresh you. It will also enable you to nurture your creativity which is extremely beneficial in the workplace. Remember to give yourself a relaxing break and enjoy yourself at least once a day. This can include:
Goingout for dinner with friends or family
Catchingup on your favourite show
Reading a book
Having a relaxing bath
Going for a dog walk.
7. Work Smarter Not Harder
The skill of being able to use your time more efficiently is one that everyone could benefit from. Working smarter, not harder involves managing your time better, knowing what needs to get done and when, and making most of the tools that will keep you on track. Here are some ways to achieve this:
Batch similar tasks together.
Take more breaks.
Turn off notifications.
Track your time and review your productivity.
Unloadyour more pressing tasks by doing them first.
Trim your to-do list by removing less important tasks.
Plan tasks based on your energy levels.
We tend to ignore our energy levels when planning our work. However, being mindful of this can be extremely beneficial in regards to productivity. Everyone’s energy spikes are different. Whether you’re more productive after lunch or first thing in the morning. Determine when your energy spikes are and plan your tasks accordingly.
8. Unplug from Technology
Our phones and technology follow us everywhere. This means our ability to disconnect from work is increasingly difficult. However, unplugging from technology is achievable. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Switch off your phone for a couple hours each day.
Enjoy some tech-free activities, like switching offtechnology at dinnertime.
Your health should always be your number one priority. A healthy lifestyle is fundamental to coping with stress and to achieving the perfect work-life balance. Neglecting your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing will see both your personal life and work-life suffering. Take care of your health by:
There are many benefits to a good night’s sleep (internal link to Why Understanding Sleep is Crucial to your Wellbeing). While you sleep, your brain works to restore your mind and body. This involves processing your emotions and what you’ve learned during the day. Receiving more sleep can improve your memory which may help you perform better at work and in your day-to-day life. The following techniques may help you achieve a good night’s sleep.
By implementing a routine in the morning and evening, you are supporting the hormones that affect sleep, manage stress levels and help you feel rested and energised throughout the day. This will help you achieve the perfect work-life balance.
Depending on your course’s workload, your mental health and your other commitments, the stress of university life can sometimes feel unmanageable. The step from school or college to university comes with a huge increase in pressure, and you may feel ill-equipped, especially if you haven’t struggled in this way before.
Stress can affect you negatively in a number of ways:
Physically, stress can increase your heart rate, cause hyperventilation, shaking, faintness or excessive sweating and give you headaches or sickness.
Behaviourally, stress can drive you to turn to harmful coping mechanisms, like excessive drink, drugs or bingeing/restricting food intake. Stress can also damage your ability to concentrate or socialise
Psychologically, stress can cause fear, panic, or a feeling that something bad will happen. These reactions can be extreme and difficult to cope with.
Here are 5 ways you might find useful in coping with stress, allowing you to live your best university life!
1. Breathing and De-escalation
Panic attacks are sudden and overwhelming feelings of fear or panic. They may come with a number of intense physical symptoms of stress. If your stress has caused a panic attack, you will need an immediate coping solution, not the other, longer-term solutions this article discusses.
To de-escalate (calm) your panic attack, try focusing on your breathing. It’s likely during a panic attack that you’re hyperventilating, so attempt to breathe deliberately slowly and deeply. Breathe in for a count of four and out for a count of four.
Focusing on a single object in your surroundings can also help. Trace the object with your eyes, or describe its appearance to yourself. Alternatively, if you’re finding your surroundings too visually stimulating, it can help to close your eyes (as long as it is safe to do so).
If it’s your surroundings’ noise that is too much, it may help to put on headphones and play a favourite calming song. Or, repeating a mantra, internally or externally, can be a good way to block out exacerbating noise. Simply saying something like “I’m going to be OK” over and over to yourself can have a reassuring and relaxing effect.
If you are having a panic attack, it’s important to remind yourself that it will pass. Focusing on your breathing can help ground you. Either focusing deliberately on an object in your surroundings, or attempting to block out over-stimulating surroundings can focus your attention away from the panic enough to allow calm.
2. Organisation / Planning
When it comes to longer-term strategies, planning and organising your time is the best way to ensure you’re dealing only with manageable chunks of work at a time.
Creating a written schedule can help visualise your time and tasks with better clarity. Colour-coding might help this clarification further. Seeing your studies and assignments broken down into smaller tasks can lessen the feeling of your workload being insurmountable.
Allot realistic portions of time for each of your tasks, and allow yourself breaks. Working without regular breaks can cause burnout and actually be counterproductive to effective study! It’s a generally advised rule to take a 15 minute break for every 1 hour of focused work you do, with a longer break every 4 or so hours. Allowing yourself rest between work will allow your batteries to recharge and enable you to focus better when you resume work.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of your assignments, scheduling your time and breaking work into small, manageable tasks can help. Taking breaks while studying is important to maintain concentration while working.
3. Exercise, Diet and Sleep
It’s well-touted advice that a balanced diet, regular exercise and a solid night’s sleep can positively impact your mental wellbeing. Being tired, lethargic and lacking nutrients isn’t conducive to productive work. However, this advice can sometimes feel steep; how do you fit in a full workout routine, home cooking and 8 hours sleep into a hectic student schedule?
Exercise, a balanced diet and good sleep needn’t be added stressors, and can be achieved in simpler terms. Rather than feeling pressure to join a gym, exercise can come in the form of regular walks or some morning yoga in your bedroom. Even a brisk 10 minute dash to the grocery shop can help clear your head during a tough study session.
If you can’t manage full home-cooked meals, try adding fruits and vegetables into your existing diet, or consider vitamin supplements. You could swap one fast-food meal a week for a quick, easy and cheap stir fry, and it doesn’t hurt to keep yourself well-hydrated with water. A balanced diet can reduce detrimental issues like mood swings and lightheadedness.
Sleep can be an issue in student accommodation; flatmates might be up when you need rest. But with an-ever expanding library of white noise on youtube and sleep-inducing podcasts, neighbour noise can be fought against. Allowing yourself enough sleep each night can greatly improve your mood and days’ energy, so if stresses do appear you can be better prepared to deal with it!
Getting whatever exercise, nutrients and sleep you can will allow your body and mind to be better prepared for both your work and your ability to handle stress.
4. Socialise / Reach Out
Social interaction can alleviate feelings of stress in numerous ways. Having fun at a social event like a party can distract from the stresses of university work, while attending a club or joining a society can increase positive feelings of belonging to your university and feeling at home.
In stressful situations, reaching out to your friends can help in alleviating that stress. Talking your problems through with a mate helps, not just because ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, but in talking your issues through – putting them in words – you might be able to help yourself in working them out.
If you feel like you don’t have any friends to talk to in times of stress, you can still seek out help! All universities will have some form of counselling available to you. External services like togetherall and Samaritans exist to support in times of crisis, too.
Socialising can help relax and improve your quality of life whilst studying at university, so don’t skip an event you want to attend for more work! Friends can be there to support you through stress, and in times of crisis, contact your university counsellor.
5. Treat Yourself With Kindness
Most importantly, treat yourself with kindness!
Remembering all the things you’ve already achieved at university – living on your own, managing your own money and workload, finding new friends, attending lectures and completing assignments to the best of your abilities – are all impressive feats! Don’t be hard on yourself, especially since you’re juggling so much, likely for the first time in your life!
Reward yourself with an occasional small luxury purchase, a trip to a museum, a dance about your room to your favourite music – whatever makes you happy. You deserve understanding, forgiveness and kindness during your time at university, and those things should come from you as much as anybody.
Immediate de-escalation techniques like focused breathing can help during stress-induced panic attacks.
For longer-term strategies, planning and compartmentalising can help in managing large workloads. A balanced diet, regular exercise and a good sleep schedule can best prepare your body and mind for dealing with stress, and having a good social support system can help in feeling less alone in your stress.
Being kind to yourself, and practising good self-care, will help both prepare you for future stressors and heal after experiencing stress.
If you need help keeping on top of your university schedule, Ceed might be able to help! Get in touch with one of our experts today.
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