Walk, talk and fake it till you make it: 10 tools to tackle stress

Amid all the hustle and bustle of contemporary living, we rarely stop to notice the present. Photograph: Thinkstock

Amid all the hustle and bustle of contemporary living, we rarely stop to notice the present. Photograph: Thinkstock

 

Walk 
There is no greater antidote to stress than a bracing walk. It might be hard to get out the door, but make yourself do it. Then take in the colours, the nature, the beauty and the elements. You will feel better every time.

Talk
Too often we don’t exercise this option. We all know about a problem shared, but how often do we do it? But this refers not just to talking to others. We must make a determined effort to talk nicely to ourselves. Be as kind and gentle to yourself as you would to others.

Breathe
If we slow down our breathing, we send all the right messages from the heart to the brain that things are going well. The brain, in turn, produces chemicals that make us feel better; these are the “rest and digest” chemicals. Look up some simple breathing techniques online. Better still, join a yoga class.

Stop
Amid all the hustle and bustle of contemporary living, we rarely stop to notice the present. Schedule some time to stop and do nothing for a few minutes every day. The formal way of doing this is called mindfulness. You can do your own informal session by simply taking a break from the noise. Early morning might just be the time for you.

Reflect
We spend far too much time being angry with people, or regretting encounters we have had during the day. Make the effort each day to think about all the good things. Before you go to bed tonight, write down three good things in your life. Do this every night.

Strut
We have heard the expression that “you have to fake it till you make it”. Prof Ian Robertson, head of psychology at Trinity College Dublin, says if you walk and talk in a confident way – even if you don’t feel like it – you will produce chemicals in the brain that will reinforce those actions. You will feel better as a result.

Garden
Very much in the realm of the therapeutic benefit of walking, gardening has a very positive impact on our mental wellbeing. Being engaged with nature, even for an hour, will slow you down and help you de-stress.

Laugh
This produces oxytocin in the brain and that makes us feel better.

Cry
This does the very same thing as laughing. Don’t be afraid to have a sniffle, even if it is during an episode of “Long Lost Families”.

Smell
Aromas have a very powerful calming effect: do a little research into what essential oils would suit you best.

 

Dr Mark Harrold is a clinical psychologist.

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