In Toronto’s Stress Management workshop on 25th January, Janice explained how stress affects the body and how to relieve it. It is important to remember that what we do for our body has an effect on our mind. Here are some of the helpful tips and exercises from Janice on how to reduce stress:
- Try to avoid coffee when you are stressed. High amounts of caffeine and stress can elevate the level of cortisol (a stress hormone) inside your body. This can lead to negative health effects, which can result in prolonged stress.
- It is important to practice good sleep hygiene so that you are able to function properly throughout the day.
- Be mindful of common thinking errors and cognitive distortions that may be influencing the way that you perceive or experience certain events or situations.
- Instead of multitasking, try to attend to one task or activity at a time. Being present while completing this activity will help to ensure that you complete the task fully before moving onto the next one.
- Be kind to yourself. Everybody makes mistakes and learns at different paces, we are all human.
The next time you feel overwhelmed, try these helpful stress relieving exercises:
1. Finding the location of your stress:
Place your hand on the area on your body where you feel your stress; this could be your forehead, stomach, neck or somewhere else. Take five lengthy deep breaths in and out. Ensure that you are taking these breaths using your nose and not your mouth. We tend to breathe through our mouths when we are panting or stressed, whereas breathing through the nose makes us feel more relaxed.
2. Superhero Pose:
Adopt a Superhero pose by standing up straight with your chest out, head facing straight ahead, and hands on your hips. Take five long nose breaths. This exercise is known to help people before a stressful event such as an interview or a big presentation by increasing their confidence. These exercises can also be done after the stressful event if you are still feeling overwhelmed.
3. Diaphragmatic breaths (belly breaths):
Place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest with your eyes closed. Take slow breaths through your nose. Scan your body and try to notice any sensations or changes. You should begin to feel more relaxed.
4. Sun Breaths:
This exercise is one of Janice’s favourites. Keep your arms by your side (you can be sitting or standing), your shoulders back, and your feet apart.
- When inhaling through your nose: lift your arms up together towards the ceiling and bring your hands together.
- When exhaling through your nose: bring your hands (which are together) down to your chest into a praying pose.
Repeat this exercise five times and remember to take your breaths slowly to allow for full relaxation.
5. Seated Breathing:
While seated, place your hands on your knees. Begin taking long, slow breaths.
- When inhaling through your nose: lift your head up and arch your back.
- When exhaling through your nose: move your hands from your knees to your toes.
Repeat as many times as you need to feel relaxed and relieved of your stress.
As suggested by Janice, see which of the above exercises resonate with you, and try to commit to practicing them every day for five days in order to see if they make a difference for you. If these exercises prove to be helpful, try to incorporate them into your daily routine. Mental health affects the way that we think, feel and behave and it can affect the way we make choices and interact with others. At FDM, we understand that mental health is a priority, which is why we make it our goal to ensure that our trainees and staff members are doing well both physically and mentally.