Simple mindfulness exercise

How mindful are you on a daily basis? Do you find you have a string of thoughts that jump from one to the next without a break?  Always thinking about what’s next and not enjoying the moment can leave you feeling overwhelmed so investing a few minutes into practicing this simple mindfulness exercise can make a huge positive impact on your life.

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Research shows that people who take a few minutes each day to actively savour something that they would usually rush experience, on average, a higher percentage of positive emotions and fewer depressive ones. A few examples are walking the dog, eating a meal or having a hot drink.

cupA very simple way to start being more mindful is to focus on your morning tea or coffee for the time it takes you to drink it. Forget all other distractions such as the TV, radio or your phone and really savour the moment by immersing yourself in the minute details of your beverage. Allow any thoughts or feelings to pass without judgement or engagement.

Begin to notice the

  • Smell
  • Colour
  • Feel
  • Taste
  • Texture

How does it feel

  • In your hands
  • On your lips
  • On your tongue

If any unwanted feelings or thoughts distract you acknowledge them, allow them to pass and go back to your practice. The more you do this, the easier it will become so try to start every day with this simple technique or build it into your daily routine and eat a mindful lunch.

Building stress management tools like mindfulness into your routine will do wonders for your mental healthy and the way you react to the outside world. If you need more help with managing stress or anxiety call us today on 01438 358174.

5 Tips for Stress at Christmas in Hertfordshire

The countdown has begun to that wonderful time of the year when we all get together to eat, drink and be merry. Wouldn’t it be lovely if this was all there was to this most joyous of seasons?!

Christmas can be a very stressful time of year that can bring with it an overwhelming feeling of dread as the bills mount up, perfect presents need to be purchased, family members have to be placated, food needs to be prepared and usually with a bit of travel thrown into the mix.  It’s no wonder Christmas is listed as one of the most stressful times of the year!

So what can you do to reduce your stress at Christmas in Hertfordshire and give yourself the head space to really enjoy the holiday season? Here are our top 5 tips for stress at Christmas in Hertfordshire

  1. Breathe! It seems simple enough, but this can be overlooked which can add to stress. We don’t mean you completely forget to breathe, this means simply taking a few minutes out of your day to stop and mindfully breathe. Just ten slow, relaxed breaths can make all the difference when everything seems to be getting on top of you. A longer out breath will help you to reduce your pulse rate and take control of challenging situations. If you can try to remember to do this a few times throughout the day before you feel stressed you will be setting yourself up to cope with any stressors that pop up throughout your day.
  1. Make a list and check it twice. All of those tasks that need to be completed for Christmas can begin to feel overwhelming if they are left to swim around your head especially if you are worried you might forget to do something. There’s nothing worse than the feeling that you have forgotten to do something! Here at APT, we do love a good list or five! Start with the big picture and list all that needs to be done then break these into time frames. This week, next week and the week before Christmas is a good place to start but feel free to add other time periods in as you go along if they are needed. Remember to add in any key dates such as pay days or bill days as these can really affect the scheduling of shopping and other activities that will need to be paid for. Now you should be able to break these weekly lists into more manageable daily lists, there’s nothing more satisfying than crossing off tasks as they are completed! Remember to make these lists manageable, a list of 100 tasks is more likely to be seen as overwhelming and put off so try to stick to a manageable amount to fit around your life.
  1. Delegate tasks to others. Once you have your lists it will be easier to see what you could as others to help with. There is no point in trying to complete everything yourself and being too stressed to enjoy the festivities if others could take some of the pressure off you as you go along. You will find that your loved ones will be more than happy to help if they can, children might need some persuading in assisting with chores but persevere as the resentment of feeling like you are doing everything without any help can eat away at the happiness that Christmas brings.
  1. Perfection is a perception that can seldom be achieved. If you are worrying about this Christmas being perfect are you putting unattainably high expectations on yourself? Usually children are happy with any presents they get even if it isn’t the latest high priced gadget and yet parents push their financial and emotional limits making sure their child has all they could ever want and more! Try not to worry about what you want and appreciate what you have. The Christmas tree, the decorations and tableware should be there to enhance the experience, not add unnecessary anxiety so will it really matter if things aren’t perfect? If you do your best, that’s all others can ask for and all you should ask of yourself. Go through your lists and take off anything that you could do without, anything that isn’t important and anything that would be more stress than it’s worth.
  1. And last but definitely not least, take time to appreciate being with loved ones. Laughter is the best medicine is an old saying that is still true, laughing with friends and family this Christmas could be just the right way to reduce your stress and anxieties. Take time to relax and socialise with your friends and family, if you have visitors but still have a list of tasks to get done ask them to get involved. It’s amazing how many people love wrapping presents, get together with friends and wrap together or ask a friend to wrap as you get other tasks done and talk while you work. Don’t avoid socialising because you are too busy planning Christmas, this is the complete opposite of what Christmas is really about so live, love, eat, drink and be merry!

Please check back soon for our next Christmas themed blog full of tips to reduce stress at Christmas. Also come and say hello on our Facebook page and Twitter feed and let us know if there are any situations you need help with this season. We look forward to hearing from you!

Exterminate your tension

Have you been keeping up to date with the new series of Dr Who on BBC1?

We stumbled upon this very quirky relaxation recording called ‘Dalek relaxation for humans’ made by the Daleks to assist you with exterminating your stress and tension!

This is the most extreme type of direct suggestion so it won’t be to everyone’s liking but it might just work for you.

It will take just over a minute to learn the Dalek relaxation technique and you might find it is a useful tool to remember at times of stress, or just to make you laugh!

Your tension will be exterminated!

Road rage in Hertfordshire

Road rage affects everyone at some point. Have you ever found yourself boiling over and experiencing road rage in Hertfordshire, because of someone else’s actions as you try to get from one place to another?

Pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and motorcyclists can all find they succumb to the competitiveness of our roads and path ways. Road rage can be seen as a negative symptom of stress. If you are running late or feel over stretched it is more likely that you will find you experience road rage. It is also easy to forget that others have busy schedules they are trying to keep. Do you ever stop to consider other people as you travel?

Instead of getting angry and worked up you might find it useful to reframe the experience. I like to think those drivers who are a bit eager to get past are trying to get to the hospital with a woman in labour in the car. Why else would they be in such a rush?! With one born every minute it’s entirely possible that this is true and if it’s not, you are left feeling less angry because of the less courteous drivers out there.

Transport for London are running a share the road campaign at the moment, the ‘Voice of Reason’ advert is only 1 minute long and is quite though provoking. You can find the link here – Share The Road

 

If you are finding that stress is making you act out in rage we can assist you in finding coping strategies to reduce your stress levels and make life a more pleasurable experience. Contact us today on 01438 358174 to discuss your goals further.

Confidence building

Did you know that you can begin confidence building and change your frame of mind by simply changing your body language? Most people know that our body language reflects our state of mind, but it is lesser known that this can work both ways.

We found a great TED talk on this subject called “Your body language shapes who you are” By Amy Cuddy that we would like to share with you, along with a link to a blog by Helen Walters with a great diagram of how to use power poses, like those discussed in the talk.

Just two minutes of power posing can make such a difference to your day. Why not give it a try, it’s only two minutes of your day, what do you have to gain?

I hope you enjoy this TED talk as much as we did, please let us know what you think on our Facebook page and remember to practice power posing every day.