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Manage how you respond to ‘stress’

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ExercisesRelaxation classesYoga, Tai Chi and meditation classes provide a good opportunity to calm and relax the body whilst doing gentle exercise. They teach breathing techniques that that you can incorporate into your everyday life.
Stress reduction exerciseGentler exercise such as walking, gentle swimming and cycling can help to reduce stress hormone levels. Look at your surroundings (trees, birds) to distract you from stressful thoughts.
Exercising at workTake the stairs instead of the lift

Every 45 minutes get up and walk around

Walk out of your office to see people rather than call or email

Walk the floor daily to see what’s happening in your department

Park some distance from the office so you walk for a short distance

Relaxation TechniquesSlow down!Consciously speak more slowly, move more slowly, breathe more slowly.
Hot BathTry having a hot bath. Use some nice scented oils in the water, light a candle, turn down the lights and play some relaxing, easy listening music
MassageIf feeling very stressed, think about having a massage. Local beauty salons can do a full body or back massage. See
LifestyleShrinking it down to sizeIf you are faced with doing something that seems overwhelming, think about the smaller chunks required to achieve it and when each needs to be done by. It should not seem so overwhelming then. If one particular aspect seems unachievable, see if someone else can help, or ask someone for advice on how to do it.
The to-do listIf you feel you have lots to do and are getting panicked, write a to-do list. Prioritise the list according to how urgent and important (or valuable) the item is. Only if the answer is yes to both questions should you be investing any time in it.

Breathing Exercises

An abundance of research has found that high levels of stress hormones cause biological and molecular changes in the areas of the brain controlling memory, mood, motivation and emotion. A 20 minute walk can reduce these hormones but this is not always possible. Try doing some breathing exercises as a first step to calming the body.

1. Breath & visualisationBreathe in slowly and imagine you are inhaling a calm restful colour.

Then breathe out as slowly as you can (out breathe is longer than the in) imagining yourself gently pushing out a stressful, irritating colour.

2. Breath AwarenessFind a quiet warm place where you won’t be disturbed & close your eyes lightly

Breathe normally for one minute.

Whilst breathing, place one hand on your chest & the other over your stomach.

Open your eyes & continue breathing as normal. If the chest-hand is dominant, then you are restricting your breath & breathing inefficiently.

Breathing into the stomach area (called deep belly breathing) is more effective at calming you. Try the exercise below.

3. Deep belly breathingPlace your hand on your stomach & consciously breathe as though you are drawing breath in & out of the stomach area. Notice your stomach area rising & falling.

a. On the in-breath, touch the tip of your tongue on the point where the roof of your mouth meets the upper front teeth.

b. On the out-breath, open your mouth slightly and slightly take the tip of your tongue away.

c. Continue for 5 minutes, keeping the focus of your attention on the process & not other thoughts in your head.

d. This is a useful exercise to do first thing in the morning, during the day when stressed and last ting at night to calm you before sleep.

4. Relaxation for sleepingClose your eyes

a. Tense your toes then relax your toes

b. Tense your calf muscles then relax your calf muscles

c. Gradually work your way up your body tensing and relaxing each muscle group

Learn more about dealing with stress in my best-selling book, ‘How to Prevent Burnout’.

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