De-Stress and Be Mindful

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So I finally bought a yoga mat and exercise ball! They’ve been on my ‘to buy’ list for so long now and I finally snatched them up for a huge bargain the other day. Yoga and pilates here I come! I have a couple of pilates DVD’s that I’m looking at buying to get me started but if anyone has any suggestions I would be really grateful. There’s actually pilates AND yoga classes held at my gym and, after two years of going there, I still haven’t managed to attend a single class. Ah hem, well anyway, now I can do it from the comfort of my own home! All I need now is some motivation, some great DVDs and some spare time in the midst of my mid-semester uni exams. Bring it on, I say!

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Recently I’ve been practicing some ‘mindfulness meditation’ every morning for about five minutes. I have this great app on my iPhone called ‘The Smiling Mind’ app and it’s soooo relaxing! There are a whole heap of different routines and each one just helps you to pay attention to your body and really understand your place in the world … if that makes any sense! I’ve heard of mindfulness before and there are so many good reports of how it helps people in different areas of their life. In this busy, modern world we live in, sometimes we just don’t even think about the simplest things and all the details get lost in the gigantic puzzle that is everyday life. There’s also a book I want to read on mindfulness called “Mindful Learning” by Dr Craig Hassed and Dr Richard Chambers, which is basically about mindfulness in relation to education. I could do with this one at the moment to be honest, exams are stressing me out!

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Would love to hear of any books you recommend on mindfulness and, as I said before, any pilates/yoga DVDs you would recommend.

Love as always,

A x

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Coping with Stress

Finding yourself diving into a fit of rage because you got served a cold cup of burned coffee? Laughing, crying and feeling generally disorientated? Forgetting everything and finding normal conversations difficult? Stress.

Coming out the other side of 12 years of schooling may not have taught me much about actual academic content, but it has taught me how to deal with stress. Assignment after exam after bad grade after part-time work doesn’t come without a significant amount of anxiety. So I’ve had to develop some strategies to cope with changes in my environment. Although these tips may not completely relieve stress and anxiety, they will help to prevent it and remove some of the physical signs.

1. Identify the stress – this may seem like a pretty obvious step, but sometimes it helps to just sit down and think about why you’re stressing. Identifying the cause of your stress may help you to tackle it at its source. It does seem strange, but sometimes there are so many different elements which combine to cause your high stress levels that you may not even be aware of some of them. Make a mental (or even physical) list of all the areas of your life which are causing you stress and take a minute to really deconstruct them. Is there really a logical need for you to stress? Are you making too much of a small situation, when the real issues lie somewhere else?

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2. Sleep! I cannot even begin to stress (pun intended) the importance of sleep in stress relief. A good nights sleep will work absolute wonders for your stress levels. I am a big time offender in this area and am ashamed to say that even as I write this post I am missing out on some much needed shut-eye. And tomorrow I will wake up stressed. It’s just this big cycle of stress and exhaustion. Don’t do it to yourself! If you’re reading this now and know you should really be getting some sleep, turn off your device (be it laptop, phone, iPad, etc.) and SLEEP NOW! You’ll thank me later!

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3. Be positive. Now, this one can be tricky. Extremely tricky. Sometimes near darned impossible. But boy does it make a big difference. Even if it’s just one day a week. For one day you are not allowed to utter one single negative phrase. Sound easy? You just try it. You begin to realise how negative you can be when you start consciously trying to be positive. Try to work some positive moments into your day, and your stress levels will begin to ease. Even if it’s just taking five minutes to sip a warm cup of tea and think about all the positive aspects of your life. No matter how hideous your life is, there is always SOMETHING positive to think about. Don’t spend time dwelling on the negative, smile!

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4. Meditate and breathe. I tried meditating for five minutes every morning when I woke up before getting ready for school for one week. You would not believe the difference it made. All I did was sit up straight in my bed, set a timer for five minutes, close my eyes and breathe deeply. Five minutes really is a long time. Meditating in this way helps you to appreciate every moment. And it allows your mind time to relax before you race off through your day. Trust me, just try it!

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5. Exercise. This one can be impractical for some, but it really does help with stress. I mean, I was going to school five times a week, doing assignments, and working on weekends and I still managed to fit in some gym time. I’m not trying to boast or anything, I’m merely saying that it can be done. You just have to prioritize. Believe it or not, I went to the gym instead of studying for exams and I did better because of it. Now, I’m not by any means saying you shouldn’t study for exams! That’s just ludicrous. But what I am saying is that sometimes it’s best to just trust yourself a little bit. After all, your brain’s pretty complex! You just have to trust it. I always used to study, study, study until my brain hurt. And I ended up getting the same result when I studied for a while, but then trusted that my brain could handle it and headed off to the gym. Just go for a quick jog around your block or jump on a bike. Sweat and puff as much as possible, the more the better!

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These are just some of the ways I have found work best for me when dealing with high stress levels. Some steps require time and energy that frankly you may not even consider spending. But please, give one of these tips a try if you’re finding yourself pulling out your own hair when you realise you’ve left your phone at home. I’ve been there!

Hope this helps,

A x