Today’s word prompt is ‘surprise.’
When we’re stressed, low or anxious it can sometimes feel like there’s no getting out of it in that moment. Feeling like there’s little control over what your experiencing can make this worse, so here’s 5 surprisingly easy things you can do right now that can make you feel a little better:1. Mind Over Muscles!
The mind and the body are most definitely connected and although felt as an emotion, stress has a biological basis. When we’re threatened or experiencing chronic high levels of stress the amygdala sends signals to the hypothalamus of ‘HEY, WE’RE NOT HAPPY!’ The hypothalamus then communicates to the rest of the body getting ready to fight or flight as we commonly know it. Ever felt aches and pains when anxious or low? It’s because without even realising it we hold this tension and the most common place this is held is in the trapezius muscle; that big triangle that runs across both shoulders and down your back. A quick way to get a bit of release when anxious is to try and release some of this tension. Pull your shoulders up to your ears hold for 2 then drop them down like they have weights attached. Do this a couple of times and I guarantee you’ll feel a bit more relaxed!
2. Box Breathing.
This technique can be super effective but can make you a bit dizzy if you’re not used to it! It’s great stress reliever as it calms down your autonomic nervous system which controls those automatic responses when we’re stressed like our temperature and blood pressure. This deep breathing also increases the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood which can help reduce light headedness and other nasty symptoms. When we’re anxious we can hyperventilate which is providing the brain with too much oxygen and results in the dizziness and tingling sensations. Adding more CO2 helps to balance this out! So how do we do it?
– Breathe out whole counting slowly to 4 in your head. Make sure all the air is out of your lungs.
– Place your hand on your abdomen and feel is rise while slowly breathing in through your nose for 4 counts, filling your lungs to their capacity.
– Hold that breath for another 4.
– Release the breath slowly over 4 counts feeling your hand going back down.
– Hold again now your lungs are empty for a further 4 before going back and starting again!
I know when I’m feeling low all I want to do is lie in bed under my duvet and hide from the world which is the least helpful thing I could do! Sometimes a simple change of environment can be enough to alter your perspective of things. Whether it’s a drive, a walk, a shower it doesn’t matter just get up and get moving! Even better is exercise and get those endorphins pumping. Finding motivation can be really difficult, have a look at this post for some tips.
Putting on a loud upbeat song can be a good distraction technique, particularly if it’s associated with a good memory. For me any Sean Paul will do, there’s something about shouting FORTY NAUGHTY SHORTY at the top of my lungs that makes me laugh, even at myself. It’s not a fool proof method, but one I employ regularly!
Some may see this as avoidance and running away from thoughts and feelings without dealing with their cause. BUT sometimes it’s exhausting feeling shit and sleep truly is the best healer. Waking up after a sleep can be treated as a welcome new start and opportunity to readdress how we’re thinking and feeling. Other times, you really just need a feelings break! On the other hand we know that when stressed or low, insomnia can become a problem! To help you get a good nights sleep avoid caffeine for at least 4 hours before bed time, reduce your exposure to blue light (get off your phone and shut down the tv) and try and use your bedroom for sleep only. We’re really good at making associations, so it’s a good idea to train your brain to associate bed with sleep. If you’re lying there with no luck, get up take 15 minutes in another room and return. It’s not helpful to spend hours on end in bed on your laptop I promise!
These tips are only intended for fairly low levels of distress, if your struggling is intense or enduring please do seek help from professionals. These work for me after a bad day in the office, but not when clinically depressed. It’s important to recognise the difference and act accordingly.
Take care of yourselves, till tomorrow x