Hi! I’m Anna, a volunteer at GLOW. In this week’s blog we’re going to talk about stress. Before we get into ways to reduce stress, the most important thing you should know about stress is that you are not alone, and many people will feel stressed within their lifetime at various points.
In fact, according to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of UK adults reported feeling stressed during the last year, with 81% of women saying they felt overwhelmed compared to 67% of men. With the pressures of today’s society, combined with a global pandemic and lockdown on loop – it’s no wonder we might be feeling a little more stressed than normal. But stress is normal, it can happen to all of us, it can be reduced, and here’s 5 ways that can help.
Repeat after me. No, really.
In ‘The Help’ nanny Aibileen (Viola Davis) tells toddler Mae to repeat the following words ‘You is kind. You is smart. You is important’. Now that’s just a movie, but adopting a mantra you can say to yourself is a helpful way to reduce stress. It may seem silly to say it out loud at first, but the repetition, coupled with breathing exercises can help to stabilise your stress. Apps such as Calm can help you count your breaths, and you can work your own saying into this. Try to create your own mantra that has meaning for you; mine for example, is ‘Not Afraid’ and it is one that I use before doing presentations in front of people – which I hate! It reminds me that there is nothing to be scared of. A good one to start off with may be ‘I can do this’ – because reader, I assure you, you can.
Whilst social media can be a source of entertainment that can cheer you up (who doesn’t love a good meme) it can also be a lot to take in at times and can become very overwhelming. Too much bad news from news websites, and too much good news from Facebook and Instagram (engagements, new babies, life achievements) can all leave you feeling a little bit flat – and you might not even realise it. Give yourself a digital detox and try to have some time off from social media. Maybe start with giving yourself an hour to browse on your lunch, or an hour in the evening. Outside of these times, try to stay off your phone. Read a book, potter around the house, go on a walk, or just watch the tv. Less screen time is always better than more, and your mind will thank you for it later!
Step out of your stress
I think you’ll agree, reader, that we have all done more walking this last year than we have probably ever planned to. But lockdowns aside, getting outside can do wonderful things for your mind. You don’t have to walk far; you don’t even have to walk at all! Simply sitting on a bench, closing your eyes and practicing your breathing can really help you refocus and fine tune your thoughts. Add some of your favourite music into the mix too – it can be an angsty anthem or some chilled out classical. Whatever takes you to your calm space, no judgement here.
Did you know that we are getting in 10,000 steps every day in May? Why not get involved and help us raise vital funds!
Get to the root of the problem
It sounds easier said than done but trying to understand where your stress is coming from brings you one step closer to solving it. Some stress can seem obvious at first glance, for example, perhaps you’re unhappy in your job. But if you dig a little deeper, and ask why you feel this way, when you started feeling this way, and what would need to happen to make you not feel this way, you may find that this stress stems from lots of little things that have built up and not dealt with – rather than one big thing that seemed to happen all of a sudden. At GLOW, we’re here to help as much as we possibly can – that’s why we created our programmes to cater for all women. If you are struggling, contact GLOW to find out more about our programmes and how we can help.
Be kind to yourself
There are lots of things in life that are beyond our control. One of them is how we feel. No one wants to feel stressed, it simply happens, and that’s okay. We do have control over how we deal with it however, and the first step of that is simply being kind to yourself. Some people like to relax with a bath bomb after a hard day, and some people can’t stand the thought of that. Perhaps a cup of tea is all you need, but have two, and add in some biscuits while you’re at it. Sometimes there’s no quick fix to stress, and a cup of tea won’t cut it, but there are lots of lily pads we can hop between to get to where we need to be to feel less stressed and more like ourselves again – even if it is a few steps back before we can go forward.
We started this blog by telling you the first thing you need to know about stress, so we’ll finish by telling you the last. Stress can last an hour, a day, a week or longer. Nobody’s stress is the same, and all stress is valid no matter how big or small. But it is vital that you address your stress when it appears, to prevent it snowballing into something bigger that you may find hard to manage.
As always, your GLOW family are here to help as best we can. Why not check out our programmes and see how they can help you or the women and girls in your community?