September is often considered the most stressful time of the year. Summer is over, we’re all rushing around getting ready to go back to work or getting the kids ready for school and Christmas really doesn’t seem that far away once we break into the month of September. Where, just where, is 2016 going?
This isn’t to say that other months of the year do not come with their fair amount of stressful occasions but this is the beginning of that long old stretch before we can put our feet up and enjoy some time off over the festive period. However, we must get there first! (Apologies for the depressing intro!)
So, what can you do to address stress? Here are our top tips on what to do if you’re feeling over-whelmed and how to lift your mood and ensure a ‘stress-free September’:
Exercising may be one of the last things on your mind if you have a to-do list as long as your arm. However, even gentle exercise every day can help make your stress feel more manageable as you can let go of some of your emotional intensity in the gym or when running on the road.
When we exercise our bodies hormone levels will change. A decrease in cortisol, known as the stress hormone, is what we are after whilst exercising as well as an increase in endorphins, our bodies ‘feel good chemical’.
If you are really looking to level out some anger, try high impact sports such as boxing or weight training which can provide an effective release for negative emotions. If you are struggling to juggle your thoughts try running, swimming or jogging as you are left with time to make sense of what’s going on in your head or what’s next on the to-do list.
Inhale and surround yourself with a soothing scent or environment
If we’re comfortable or relaxed, we are more likely to let go of the stress which is taking over or on the horizon. We each have our own way of being comfortable, whether this is curling up in your favourite chair, visiting your favourite park or taking a bath. All of these can be heightened further with the aromas you surround yourself with. Fragrances are often linked to memories and when you consider this in relation to your mood, a favourable memory will help you find the calm in the storm.
Aside from bringing back wonderful memories, scents are also linked to doing amazing things to our minds and bodies. Tackling stress is commonly associated with scents such as chamomile, lavender, pine and vanilla for example and there are plenty of natural aids which can support this action.
Creating a relaxing atmosphere at your home or work using a room fragrance will silently get to work around you. The Aromatherapy Associates Relax Room Fragrance features a soothing blend of geranium, myrhh and West Indian Bay when burnt into a home fragrancer or burner the specially selected blend of essential oils fill the room around you with an aroma to help calm any tattered nerves and help you unwind.
On the go and feeling the pressure? Stop and take a minute. Hand-bag, or even pocket friendly, therapy balms are available to help you power down and find perspective. Try the Tazeka Aromatherapy Blend Nonstop Thoughts or Scentered Stress Less Therapy Balm for a feel-good pick me up throughout the day.
Work smarter, not harder
This means to prioritise your work, paying close attention to the tasks which really matter and that are time sensitive. If you have a few days or even a week or two until the task you are fretting about needs completing, check to see if these can wait – what else is important? Once you learn to accept that you will always have something waiting for your attention, the easier it will be to lift your mood. We’re living in a busy world, but there is only a certain number of hours you can spend trying to please someone or completing something! Take a step back, prioritise and move forward.
Connect with people
A good support network of family, friends and colleagues can instantly lift your mood. If you’re feeling under pressure, meeting and talking over your problems with a trusted companion is just as important as taking a few minutes to yourself. What you choose to do with your friends and family can help you relax and smile, plus laughter is a great way to relieve some pent up stress!
If you are able to take some time out or find yourself with a few hours to spare, reconnect with an old friend or see your family – having positive relationships with the people in your life is valuable for our emotional health.
Consume mood-boosting foods
Although there is still a lot of research to be done about how foods can affect our moods and minds, there is no doubt that we are all a little bit happier with a full tummy! Hunger can make even the most mild mannered of people into a h-angry monster so it’s important to ensure your diet features the best kind of nutrients possible to keep your spirits high.
Starting your day with a balanced breakfast is the best way to ensure a smooth start to a busy day. Include lots of fibre, nutrients and perhaps some lean protein or good (unsaturated) fats to balance out your morning meal. If you are pressed for time first thing in the morning, grab a spoon and enjoy a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries. The complex carbohydrates in oatmeal boost the serotonin levels in our brain to help create a calming effect and the blueberries (or any berries in fact) are packed with antioxidants which help fight stress levels and the vitamin C keeps our cortisol (stress hormone) level in check.
Throughout the day if you feel yourself reaching for chocolate to address your mood (don’t worry, we’ve all been there) that’s okay, but make sure it’s of the dark variety. Dark chocolate contains health antioxidants which are linked to lower blood pressure and making us feel calmer. Now, we’re not going to argue with that but remember it’s okay in moderation!