The Top 5 Ways to Lower Stress

I was excited to deliver Mind Resilience Masterclass 1 to the staff at the Derby College Annual Conference on Student Experience and Pastoral Support this week. This was a wonderful group that was engaged and full of energy. They participated in discussions and exercises and gave me brilliant feedback at the end.
Thank you, Director of Student Experience and Pastoral Care Aaron Denton, for the invitation to inspire your staff. I was very impressed with the Conference and the creative effort you put into the day.
I spotted this article in Word for Today, and it made me think about my stress levels and how I use specific techniques to control them.
We all experience stress daily, but there are times when it is extreme, and this can damage us profoundly. There are excellent, proven ways to control stress, and below, I have detailed the top five most recognised ways to reduce stress effectively.
Are you experiencing stress?
“When you ignore the warning signs, chronic stress can take a toll on your body. So, what are some of the signals?
Well, for starters, your stomach churns at any form of disagreement. When you can’t find an outlet for pent-up frustration, you may resort to overeating, smoking, drinking, drugs, and generally abusing your body. You isolate yourself, which affects your loved ones.
Debora M. Coty describes the ‘Three Fs: outward fussing, inward fuming, and chronic fatigue’. She jokes, ‘I knew it was time to address my stress issues when my growl grew louder than the dog’s, and my family tactfully suggested I get a rabies shot.’
However, the signs you don’t see can do the most damage. Cortisol, a hormone our bodies release in the grasp of stress, adds to out-of-control feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness.
Studies verify that over time, stress raises your blood pressure, contributes to migraines and tension headaches, and results in the plaque that leads to heart disease. Chronic stress has been observed to increase cardiovascular risk by almost 50 per cent!
Not to mention documented connections to alcoholism, anxiety attacks, asthma, cancer, colds, depression, flu, insomnia, obesity, strokes, and ulcers.
And those uncontrolled crying spells you encounter when you’re exhausted are no coincidence. Stress lowers oestrogen levels, which can activate emotional outbursts.
If this describes you, take action! Rearrange your priorities, slow down, and start taking control of your life.”
Here are the top five ways to lower stress
Exercise Regularly: Regular physical activity is one of the most effective ways to combat stress. Exercise increases the production of endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters, which help create a sense of well-being. It also reduces the levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
Running, swimming, yoga, or even dancing can provide a healthy distraction from daily worries, improve sleep quality, and boost overall energy levels. Exercise’s physical benefits, combined with its psychological impact, make it a powerful tool for stress management.
Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment, which can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm. These practices encourage awareness and acceptance, allowing you to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Techniques such as guided visualisation, mindful breathing exercises, and body scan mindfulness can help centre your thoughts and reduce stress. Regularly practising mindfulness can also help you develop better balance and emotional control.
Maintain Social Connections: Social support is crucial for managing stress. Talking with friends, family, or support groups can provide emotional comfort, practical advice, and a sense of belonging. Regularly connecting with loved ones can help you feel understood and supported, which can significantly reduce feelings of stress.
Whether meeting up with friends, joining clubs or groups with similar interests, or simply having a trusted confidant to talk to, maintaining social connections helps you feel less isolated and more capable of handling life’s challenges.
Establish a Healthy Sleep Routine: Quality sleep is essential for effective stress management. Lack of sleep can exacerbate stress, while good sleep enhances your mood, energy levels, and cognitive function. Establish a healthy sleep routine, set a regular sleep schedule, create a calming bedtime ritual, and ensure your sleep environment is comfortable and free of distractions.
Limiting screen time before bed and avoiding stimulants like caffeine in the evening can also improve sleep quality. You can improve your ability to cope with stress by prioritising good sleep.
Engage in Relaxation Techniques: Relaxation techniques can reduce physical and mental stress. Deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, visualisation techniques, and aromatherapy can help promote relaxation and improve overall well-being.
These practices help calm the mind and body, reduce muscle tension, and create a sense of peace. Regularly incorporating relaxation techniques into your routine can help you manage stress more effectively and improve your overall quality of life.
We all experience stress.
We all go through times of increased stress; it is part of life. However, it’s not what happens to us that counts but how we respond. We can sink into depression, or we can take action to prevent this from happening. We can climb out of the pit of despair and into the sunshine waiting for us.
Thoughts for the week. 

  1. Rate yourself out of 10 for your current stress level. 1 is no stress, and 10 is overwhelming stress.
  2. If you have scored six or more, you are experiencing stress that is causing you harm.
  3. This week, think about the five ways to reduce stress above and pick one to focus on.
  4. Work on this all week and try to use the suggestions to help you reduce your stress.
  5. Then, pick another area and work on that.

Well, that’s it for this week. Have a wonderful weekend, and remember, it’s not how you start in life that counts; it’s how you finish!
Warm regards


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