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Combating Stress and the importance of relaxation - Keely Harris

Dear Patients

I thought I would write a personal note regarding combating stress and the importance of relaxation. Relaxation is the state of well-being you experience when you are free from tension and anxiety. A time in which you feel rested and comfortable. Stress is the body’s response to any change, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. By managing this response so that rather than turning into negative stress, or distress, it energies you and acts as an opportunity to springboard your personal growth. Stress symptoms can affect your body, mind, emotional well-being and behaviour. Physically, it is important to try and recognise stress symptoms. They include, headaches, muscle tension and pain, chest pain, fatigue, lack of libido, stomach upset, sleeping issues. Mentally, anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, feeling overwhelmed, irritability or anger, sadness or low mood can develop. Behaviour changes can cause the desire to overeat or under eat, angry outbursts, binging on alcohol, tobacco or narcotic use, socially withdrawing and not wanting to exercise. Here are some suggestions for ways to help you reduce stress.

1. Walk in nature, embrace the beauty around you

2. Listen to uplifting beautiful music that evokes happy memories

3. Spend time contacting a good friend

4. Be kind to yourself

5. Accept what you cannot change, and change what you can. Be realistic about the changes that you can make or work towards making.

6. Laughter has always been known as the best medicine. Laughing at oneself can release potential stress form your body.

7. Take this time to try and recognise signs of stress such as anger, poor quality and exhaustion. By being aware of these signs, you are identifying how to make stress work for you and channel this potential negative energy into something productive and creative. This way you are being proactive and not reactive to situations.

8. Indecisions increase stress. Make the decision and act on them.

9. Try to be organised as disorganisation can produce stress.

10. Don’t be a people pleaser saying yes to everything. Recognise what your strengths are and focus on them. Trying to take on too much can result in a feeling of loss of control which creates stress.

11. Do something creative as this will help to take your mind off the things that may be causing you stress.

12. Eat healthily to ensure you get all the nutrients you need. When you are stressed, we often crave sugary foods or caffeine to keep going. But what you really need is to drink more water, the right levels of vitamins, minerals and a balanced diet to help your body cope.

13. Get plenty of sleep as your body requires time for the cells to regenerate and the body to repair. Good sleep supports your emotionally and mental health. Sleep is important for brain function, concentration and productivity, improves physical performance, improves your immune system and helps to prevent illness.

14. Write down 3 things every day that you are grateful for as this can help you to see the positives in your lie rather than focusing on the negatives.

15. Reduce your caffeine intake this increases production of the stress hormone cortisol. Try to eliminate or cut back on food and drinks that contain caffeine such as chocolate, coffee, tea, and energy drinks.

16. Reduce your screen time. Research has found that exposure to blue light emitted by screens on cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions screens suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin which is secreted from the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin is the hormone that controls your sleep and wake cycle or cardiac rhythm. When this hormone is reduced it becomes more difficult to fall asleep and remain asleep.

17. Have a look at Relaxation 30 mins-Anouschka Dack: As a Dru Yoga and Meditation teacher I highly recommend that you try these.

10 - 20 mins of conscious relaxation can clear the negative effects of stress. When you relax, an alpha brain wave state predominates in which your consciousness is being drawn away from external stimuli and functions at a deep level of awareness. • You will experience a state of relaxed alertness. • Your heart rhythm becomes more regular and your metabolic rate slows down. • Your immune system is stimulated, and many serious conditions are improved • Your learning capacity and power of creative thought increase- you have entered what has been termed the genius zone. Feel at peace with yourself and feel more able to deal with things.

Stay safe, healthy and well.

Warmest wishes,

Keely Harris

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