By Emma Pearce-Mogridge 

It’s hard today to avoid stress. Our modern lives are built around an ever moving, high-pressured society that can cause us to feel engulfed in the burdens of daily life. According to Global News, 73% of all working Canadians have reported experiencing stress in 2018 and this number is only increasing.

Sadly, this isn’t all that surprising. How many times a day, week or even a month do you stop just to relax?  Take a short break or even give yourself time to think about… nothing? My guess is, zero! 

We are bound to so many societal pressures and personal commitments that we feel like we spend most of our time chasing our own tail, trying to catch up, keeping on top of things, never wanting to miss out or be forgotten. In doing so, we are putting our health at risk, adding more and more stress onto our bodies and minds.

Now, I’m not suggesting we should all stop what we are doing, ignore our responsibilities and commitments and take a month-long vacation (as much as I would love that)! No, that’s not practical. But for our health, our productivity and our better sense of wellbeing, there needs to be some give and take on our list of responsibilities. We simply can’t afford NOT to make time for our health and wellness needs. 

Know the signs of stress

There are several tell tale signs that you are overburdened by stress. These signs affect your body, mood and often your behaviour.

Your body

  • Headache 
  • Muscle tension or pain 
  • Chest pain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset 
  • Sleep problems 

Your mood 

  • Anxiety 
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed 
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression 

Your behaviour

  • Over-eating or under-eating 
  • Angry outbursts 
  • Drug or alcohol abuse 
  • Tobacco use 
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often 

Now, what can you do about it? 

In the end it’s all about prioritizing…yourself! If we begin to prioritize small amounts of time for ourselves, even just once a day for a few minutes, the change can be amazing!

You may not feel comfortable taking that extra ten minutes or an hour to re-centre and ground yourself but in the long run, you will find that by taking the time to look after your wellness-first, you will reduce your overall stress levels, increase your productivity; improve your focus; and lift your energy. So, time isn’t lost! Your time is just being spent more wisely.

Your life moves so fast. You deserve to take the time to look after yourself so that you can get the most out of it!

Here are few tactics you can try this week

Mindful Breathing

If you can only spare 5 or 10 minutes a day, here is a focused breathing exercise I use to get my day started. Try it on your next coffee or lunch break! 

  • Try focusing on breathing in through your nose for a count of 6 and out through your nose for a count of 7.  
  • Expand your belly on the inhale, gently collapsing it on the exhale.  
  • Do this for 3 minutes and you’ll find your whole body will reset and relax, enabling you to centre yourself and focus on the now. Whenever your mind wanders, try to bring it back to your breath. 

Enjoy this moment. Just by doing this small exercise, you can reset your mind and energy for the day. 

Practice Yoga 

If you can spare more time, try a yoga class. There are many different types of yoga for all abilities, levels and personal needs. If you feel uneasy in a class or don’t like training with others, try a personal yoga session or meditation session. These classes can really help to relax both your mind and body, while teaching you how to let go and create the foundations for mindfulness. 

Massage Therapy

For truly indulgent stress relief (this is my personal go-to when I’ve had a tough week or am feeling tense) enjoy a massage. There are various types of massage all aimed to treat the areas in need. Our shoulders can hold so much tension and stress that sometimes we don’t realize just how much strain we are putting on ourselves and our bodies. A massage can work your pressure points and give you that disconnect feeling your mind may be craving. 

Emma is Nurtured Life’s company Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer. As a trained child and adolescent counsellor and behaviour management specialist, and certified life and executive coach, Emma has always believed in the importance of mental health and self-care. Emma’s compassion for others has deeply motivated her connection with Nurtured Life.