Square Mile: April 2017

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Shaun Stafford

Half-empty, Half-full, or Overflowing?

A lot of people look at life through the analogy of a glass being half-full or half empty. If it is half full, people are thought to have a rosier outlook on life and generally have a more positive mindset, whereas their half-empty counterparts are generally seen as a little more gloomy and pessimistic…

But when it comes to stress levels, filling the glass right up to the top is something we definitely want to be aware of and we certainly don’t want to get anywhere near a position where that glass might overflow!

If the body is a vessel, like a cup or glass, there is only so much stress it can take before things start to go wrong… and this is true for both good stress and bad stress.

Good stress, for example, can be the hit of endorphins and training stimulus from doing a great workout: whereas it feels amazing at the time and often makes you feel a lot better than before you started, it is still adding stress to your cup and slowly filling it up.

Bad stress is more what we would commonly associate with “being stressed”: overworked, under-sleeping and generally feeling run down. People are usually more aware of this type of stress and sometimes this mix of good stress and bad stress can mask how full the glass is getting…

Some warning signs that things are creeping up on you might be common things like the appearance of mouth-ulcers, eye-sties, increased irritability, erratic sleep patterns and a loss of appetite.

If you are feeling any of these symptoms it might be worth consulting your GP or health care practitioner, or trying some of these simple tips to try and slowly bring you back to a more centered and balanced you!

Switch Your Style of Exercise.

There is no doubt that exercise is one of the most powerful stress relievers out there but the type of exercise you do can be a driving factor in how your body recovers from stress situations.

Rather than smashing a brutal spin or boot-camp class that will leave you fired up but mentally and physically exhausted, try taking things down a notch or two by switching to a more holistic style of class such as yoga or Pilates.

It has even been shown that slower, more rhythmical exercise (such as the cross-trainer or a brisk walk) is one of the best forms of exercise to reduce stress and increase mental wellness.

Manage Your Time Better.

Now, this might sound a bit obvious but one of the major factors in highly stressed individuals is the feeling of being over-stretched and time poor. By taking some simple steps to ease the feeling of this pressure, perceived stress levels will fall off a cliff…

Don’t over-commit to things (both professionally and socially), break large tasks and projects into smaller, more manageable steps, and don’t be afraid to delegate and ask for help.

Chances are there are people around you who will more than happily take on a little more work if you let them know that you are struggling: this can take the form of asking a colleague for help at work, or asking your partner at home to help do the ironing or wash the dishes at the end of the night!

Unplug & Connect.

With modern society set up the way it is, we seem to be glued to our phones 24/7! Whether it is checking emails, surfing the web or endlessly scrolling through social media, the amount of time both kids and adults are spending on smartphones and tablets has increased 10-fold in the last 5 years!

And the worst thing of all is that this has been proven to increase anxiety, disrupt sleep patterns and lead to an overall sense of lower self-esteem. These can all lead to higher stress levels and a feeling of less overall wellbeing.

To counteract this, set a time in the evening (usually at least 2 hours before you plan on going to sleep) to put away the phone or tablet and engage in some human-to-human interaction.

Nothing relieves stress better than an actual face-to-face conversation: it’s the body’s natural stress-blocker and creates a cascade of positive hormones that are designed to stave off depression and anxiety.

The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to fix your problems, just be a good listener and someone who makes you feel safe and understood. So make sure you connect regularly, and in person, with family and friends and go out of your way to grow this network to improve your ability to deal with all of life’s stressors in a positive and more engaged way.

Focus On Being Healthy!

If you put a focus on your health, your body naturally wants to function on a higher level and generates a lot of positive feedback loops to make you feel less stressed and anxious.

Eating nutrient dense, unprocessed food is a good way to ensure your body and mind is getting what it needs to work properly and simple things like reducing your caffeine and sugar intake will help back this up!

Also reducing the presence of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs will certainly increase your wellbeing and help you be more balanced and centered, increasing your ability to deal with stress.

Throw into the mix a full 7hours of sleep and you’ll be bullet-proofing yourself to deal with anything life throws at you!

Stress doesn’t have to be a constant battle between keeping your glass full but millimetres from the brim: take these slight tweaks to your everyday life and handle stress and stressful situations and easy as you will perform the “downward dog” in your new, chilled out yoga class!

School of Success