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Monday 8 August 2011

How not to get stressed

Number 1: Adopt an attitude like Charlie
Meet Charlie, a monkey who's the same age as me - 30 years. And yet while I'm generally in some sort of state of panic that I should be doing this, need to do that, could be somewhere else, should be earning 'x' and stressing that I ought to be be owning 'y', you'll generally find him, chillaxing, taking deep breaths and enjoying life, worry free. Yes I know he's a monkey but seriously, sometimes I look at him and think why can't I be more like you? I read a really powerful article this week about stepping back and taking a break from setting goals. I've always been goal driven. I have continous lists of things to do by a certain time and take great joy in ticking them off (though not for a while.) The pride has been fading and now I know why. It's good to have a sense of direction but when it starts controlling your life to the point you start feeling inadequate because you're failing in some way, that's when you need to stop and let go. I don't want to look back on my life and think I spent most of it being stressed. I'm on a mission to eradicate stress from every element of my life. Yes it's romanticised, unrealistic and rose-tinted but surely it's worth a try? Already since reading the article the feeling that I don't need to be making goals every day has lifted numerous weights off my shoulders. That's not to say I'm going to stop making goals, indeed I have ambitions (big ones!) but they don't need to be timetabled and ticked off like an exam. No, I'm on a mission to enjoy life the Charlie way.
 Number 2: Drink peppermint tea
Ok so some folk prefer coffee, or normal tea. For me, the instant way to relax, catch my breath back and take a  few minutes out for myself is to drink a cup of peppermint tea. The ultimate would be fresh mint leaves in my favourite tea cup but I've never had green fingers. I can't even keep a coriander plant from the supermarket alive for a day let along remember to water plants or even think about growing fresh herbs. So I normally drink the bagged stuff. It's ok, brands do vary but I've grown to accept that. Peppermint shouldn't just be reserved for easing your stomach after a heavy meal, (it's digestive properties are undoubtedly a miracle); it deserves to be drunk throughout the day. It clears your tummy and your head and is refreshing and hydrating. I leave my bag to brew for couple of minutes (some people leave them in for the duration but that's too strong for me) and then I leave it to cool for a further five minutes. At approximately seven minutes (an average depending on shape, size and make of cup, but that's another story) it hits the perfect temperature. With every sip, my whole body tingles, it  hits all the right places and makes me feel so utterly calm. I suspect some folk get this from other means (possibly a glass of wine or cigarette) but with peppermint being so pure and wholesome, it's a much better choice and the after effects are so much more long lasting.
Number 3: Invigorate your senses
Creating the right environment for your activity is vital. Whether that's an office or studio that's conducive to work, a bedroom that's warm and cosy to snuggle up in, or a light and airy living room to read a book. Light and temperature are key ingredients, as are general ambience and smell. I love candles but they're only noticable in the evening. I'm not keen on the synthetic whiff of air fresheners and no one has pou porri these day! Luckily then I recently discovered a brilliant 'Anti-Stress' 'Treating Fragrance', by Elixirs de Bach (£7.95).  I'd never heard of a 'Treating Fragrance' before but it's purpose is to help balance your emotions and behaviour and increase harmony and vitality within you and around you. There are two types in the range 'Conflicts' to lighten the mood in environments clouded by aggression (so good to keep by your desk at work if there's colleagues who like to bicker - you could secretly spray it to encourage calmness) and 'Stress' which is the one I have. It's supposedly helps you unwind after intense work and lifts your spirits when you're exhausted. So that's the theory. In practice this is how it works. You spray it three times above your head and it leaves a soothing lingering peaceful energy. It contains essentials from flowers and has a light floral fragrance as if you have fresh flowers in the room. It feels natural rather than the pungency of artificial plug-ins and almost makes you feel like you have the freshness of outdoors inside. This is perfect for me as at the moment and for the next three months I am locked away in a dark flat with bars on the windows beavering away on my next book. It's not the nicest of environments but the work I'm doing is like 'living the dream.' However that doesn't mean it's not stressful - it absolutely is as because there is a pressure that it has to be perfection (I couldn't settle for anything less otherwise there's no point in doing it.) And so I'm spraying this scent throughout the day in my studio/work room to nip stress in the bud before it grabs me and after week in of testing it I can honestly say I am as yet not stressed - hooray!
Number 4: Visit nature
Nothing beats the pleasures of being outdoors, whether it's visiting the beach, a river or park - being in nature for at least a few minutes every day clears your head instantly especially if you can get it to yourself (I know this isn't always possible but it should be aimed for.) I have an affirmation card stuck on my wall that says 'Everyday try and read a poem, listen to an inspiring piece of music, look at a wonderful painting or go into nature.' It's the latter that I aspire to. My favourite environment (as much as I am a born and bred city girl) is to be near water - whether that's the coast (which these days is rare) or a glimpse of the River Thames. water always makes me feel happier. I hope that one day I'll live somewhere where I can see water from my window and not a brick wall.
Number 5: Get a pet
Until February this year I had never experienced the joys of having a pet - I had no idea how life changing it would be. Having life in the form of an animal in your home is an incredible and precious thing. Miss P gave out so much love and affection that just looking at her or holding her took away all problems and stresses in life. It's similar to being comforted by a cat or a dog, animals are so unselfish they don't want much, just food, shelter and love back. Having her put a new dimension of taking a break from work, it forced me to make time for someone else and that in turn is incredible destressing.
Some people like to run for miles, spend a day getting pampered in a spa or go shopping...there's so many ways to de-stress, if you're having any problems wondering how to find the right treatment for you, maybe give any one, or all of these suggestions a try. It works for me.

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