COUNSELLING BLOG

Posts tagged stress

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Quick Tips for Relieving Stress

1. Go for a walk around the block – and even longer if you have the time.

2. Make faces in a mirror to reduce the muscle tension (and the chances are it will make you laugh as well).

3.  Stretch – and loosen the muscles in the shoulders, neck and jaw

4. Make a thankfulness list.

5. Find a place to withdraw from everyone. Five minutes on your own can really make a world of difference!

6. Turn off your phone and any message notifications.

7. Switch off the inner critic in your head.

8. Look for humour in the situation.

9. Have a cup of herbal tea.

10. Eat a banana. It increases your levels of potassium (which are depleted in times of stress) and gives an immediate boost in energy.

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Mental Health Tips

· Daydream – Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a dream location. Breathe slowly and deeply. Whether it’s a beach, a mountaintop, a hushed forest or a favourite room from your past, let the comforting environment wrap you in a sensation of peace and tranquility.

· “Collect” positive emotional moments – Make it a point to recall times when you have experienced pleasure, comfort, tenderness, confidence, or other positive emotions.

· Learn ways to cope with negative thoughts – Negative thoughts can be insistent and loud. Learn to interrupt them. Don’t try to block them (that never works), but don’t let them take over. Try distracting yourself or comforting yourself, if you can’t solve the problem right away.

· Do one thing at a time – For example, when you are out for a walk or spending time with friends, turn off your cell phone and stop making that mental “to do” list. Take in all the sights, sounds and smells you encounter.

· Exercise – Regular physical activity improves psychological well-being and can reduce depression and anxiety. Joining an exercise group or a gym can also reduce loneliness, since it connects you with a new set of people sharing a common goal.

· Enjoy hobbies – Taking up a hobby brings balance to your life by allowing you to do something you enjoy because you want to do it, free of the pressure of everyday tasks. It also keeps your brain active.

· Set personal goals – Goals don’t have to be ambitious. You might decide to finish that book you started three years ago; to take a walk around the block every day; to learn to knit or play bridge; to call your friends instead of waiting for the phone to ring. Whatever goal you set, reaching it will build confidence and a sense of satisfaction.

· Keep a journal (or even talk to the wall!) – Expressing yourself after a stressful day can help you gain perspective, release tension and even boost your body’s resistance to illness.

· Share humour – Life often gets too serious, so when you hear or see something that makes you smile or laugh, share it with someone you know. A little humour can go a long way to keeping us mentally fit!

· Volunteer – Volunteering is called the “win-win” activity because helping others makes us feel good about ourselves. At the same time, it widens our social network, provides us with new learning experiences and can bring balance to our lives.

· Treat yourself well – Cook yourself a good meal. Have a bubble bath. See a movie. Call a friend or relative you haven’t talked to in ages. Sit on a park bench and breathe in the fragrance of flowers and grass. Whatever it is, do it just for you.

Source: http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/mental-fitness-tips/#.ULGTHvXNk4w

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8 Unconventional Ways to De-stress

1. Massage your ears. The ear massage is a fantastic way to release endorphins in your brain and make you feel good. Start by gently rubbing your earlobes with your thumb and index finger. Then squeeze the outer edges of your ears all the way to the top. These parts of your ears have tiny reflex points that can relax specific areas of your body. Finish by using your index fingers and middle fingers to massage behind the ears on the bony part of your skull.

2. Finger paint. Finger painting allows you to have fun, be artistic and play in a child like way. It gives you permission to express your creativity and spontaneity without expectations.

3. Declutter. Take note of how much stuff you have lying around your room. Then, get rid of anything and everything you don’t use or need. It’s easier to relax when you are not surrounded by stuff – especially stuff like, work, electronics and even reading materials because your subconscious mind then feels you’ve things to do.

4. Try laughing yoga. We all know that laughter has a wonderful effect on our mood and is one of the best feel good things we can do. However, the opportunity to laugh like this doesn’t always come easily and often. A fun and crazy way to make yourself laugh uncontrollably is to find (google) a class, club or yoga studio in your area that offers laughing yoga.

5. Procrastinate. Make a list of things to do and then don’t do it. Call it your procrastination list. Then make the decision to engage in something you really feel like doing. If and when you become inspired to do something on your procrastination list then go for it.

6. Be brutally honest. Instead of bottling things up inside you, which causes stress and tensions, why not let it go through the power of honest speech. Express your emotions and tell people how you really feel without being rude or obnoxious. Notice how relieved you feel.

7. Dance in the rain. Next time it rains, have a little fun, get wet and do a little dance. Engage all your senses and enjoy the moment. If you live in a colder climate, try dancing in the snow or making snow angels.

8. Enjoy a staycation. Instead of travelling somewhere on a holiday, stay at home and enjoy a local vacation. Maybe try a new hobby or activity, or just visit some local cafes, bars or restaurants.

Source: http://zenhabits.net/8-unconventional-ways-to-de-stress-and-release-tension/ (Abridged)

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Stress Busting: Functioning Well in the Heat of the Moment

Develop your stress busting skills by working through the following three steps:

1. Realize when you’re stressed – The first step to reducing stress is recognizing what stress feels like. How does your body feel when you’re stressed? Are your muscles or stomach tight or sore? Are your hands clenched? Is your breath shallow? Being aware of your physical response to stress will help regulate tension when it occurs.

2. Identify your stress response – Everyone reacts differently to stress. If you tend to become angry or agitated under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that quiet you down. If you tend to become depressed or withdrawn, you will respond best to stress relief activities that are stimulating. If you tend to freeze—speeding up in some ways while slowing down in others—you need stress relief activities that provide both comfort and stimulation.

3. Discover the stress-busting techniques that work for you – The best way to reduce stress quickly is by engaging one or more of your senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Each person responds differently to sensory input, so you need to find things that are soothing and/or energizing to you. For example, if you’re a visual person you can relieve stress by surrounding yourself with uplifting images. If you respond more to sound, you may find a wind chime, a favorite piece of music, or the sound of a water fountain helps to quickly reduce your stress levels.

Source: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/eq5_raising_emotional_intelligence.htm

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Self Care

1. Consciously teach yourself to relax, and practice relaxation as soon as you feel stressed.

2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink.

3. A warm shower or bath can help our muscles to relax, and can help ease the tension in our body and mind.

4. Talking with someone who accepts us as we are – and is nonjudgmental – is highly therapeutic.

5. Recognise that there are things that are outside our control – and there are some situations that we simply cannot change.

6. Reward and indulge yourself with things that you enjoy so you feel respected and valued as a person. (For example, buy some clothes you love, or get your hair and nails done)

7. Make an effort to establish and maintain a work/ life balance. You need to make time for your hobbies, and to hang out with your friends.

8. Organise your time, and prioritise your tasks.  You’ll feel a lot less anxious if you get things done on time.

9.  Recognise that you have limits and enforce your boundaries. If you live with too much pressure you will end up overwhelmed.

10. Keep a sense of humour – smile and laugh throughout the day.

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Boredom and Stress

1. Boredom drains our energy, and leads to feelings of apathy and listlessness.

2. It eats away at our motivation, and stops us from performing at our best. That, in turn, increases our levels of stress.

3. Boredom at school and work affects all ability levels – there is very little difference in how bored people feel, and how often they feel bored in these environments.

4. It is the second most common suppressed emotion (after anger). When we suppress our emotions it creates stress in our body and minds. This undermines our immune system and makes us more susceptible to illness and disease.

5. Boredom is exacerbated by having fewer people around you (for example, if you are a shift worker or you’re studying at home, alone). It could also be a greater source of stress for more extroverted individuals.

6.  It may be partly due to our increasing need for constant stimulation – which also makes it harder for us to relax.

7. When we feel bored we tend to withdraw, or to become impatient, irritable, short-tempered, hostile and aggressive around others. That puts a strain on relationships.

8. Boredom often leads to participating in higher risk activities. These are stressful in themselves, and also have stressful side-effects. (For example, dangerous driving, or experimenting with drugs.) 

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The Benefits of Mindfulness

1. It helps us to let go of the tiredness, stress and negativity that clutters up our mind. That then frees us to be still, and get in touch with our true self.

2. It helps us get in touch with our feelings and emotions - so we’re able to respond, and not simply react. 

3. It helps us get in touch with our empathy - so we’re more able to listen, understand, connect and get inside the world of other people in our lives.

4. It keeps our focus on the present - so we’re not trapped by the past, or the pain and regret that can stop us moving on. Or, by concerns about the future, which haven’t happened yet!

5. It helps to keep us grounded in who we really are. That can increase our self confidence and self esteem, and we’re able to access and draw upon our strengths.

6. The body and mind are closely intertwined. Thus, if we’re careful to attend to our mental wellbeing it’s like to be good for our physical health, too.

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Balancing your Studies with Having a Life

If you can answer “yes” to most of these questions then you’ve managed the art of time management:

1. Are able to balance work, college commitments and your social life?

2. Do you have clear and specific goals?

3. Do you timelines and deadlines for achieving these goals?

4. Do you usually hand any work in on time, or do you stay up all night before the work is due?

5. Are you good at estimating how long a task will take?

6. Do you know your most productive time of day, and schedule your commitments to maximise performance?

7. Are you good at focusing on what is most important, and prioritising what needs to be done?

8.  Are you able to avoid unwanted interruptions in the time you’ve set aside for studies (facebook, tumblr, calls, texts, friends etc)?

9.  Are you able to say “no” to people and things who waste your time, or stop you being productive?  

10. Do you schedule in some downtime, and make time for your friends?

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How to Stay Peaceful Around Stressed People

When we’re around people who are stressed and negative it can upset our own sense of inner peace and calm. Here are some suggestions to help you with this:

1. Imagine there’s an invisible shield that separates you from them. See their attitudes, reactions and high expectations as being their choice and decision- they’re not a part of you. You are two separate people – don’t let them influence you.

2. Disconnect from the source of negativity. End the call, close your email, or get up and walk away. When we feel stressed and angry we’re more likely to react – so maintain your control by taking steps to decompress.

3. Avoid toxic people if you possibly can. Avoid people who guilt trip you, or are constantly complaining, or who like to sit in wallow in their misery. They’ll quickly drain your energy and drive you to despair.

4. Be a positive person. Go on the offensive and reach out to people who need some encouragement, a smile or a kind word. That will keep you feeling peaceful and positive.

5. Spend time with people with whom you can connect, and who inspire and motivate you to be a better person. Look out for people who improve your self-esteem, who are positive role models and live life to the full. They’ll broaden your capacity to give and grow as well. (So let them be your focus – and not the stressed out people!)

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Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation is a mindfulness practice that allows you to “let go” and be present in the moment. In the fast-paced world that we live in, we often do not take the time to clear our heads and be truly present in our surroundings. This can be especially true for if you live with mental illness, because we often experience high levels of anxiety or constantly racing thoughts.

There are numerous meditation techniques, which often work in combination with one another. Meditation, or sitting quietly in the present moment, can require a small time commitment of just five minutes up to, if time allows, even hours. Meditation takes practice; retraining your mind to let go does not happen immediately, but if you take the time to practice once a day or a few times a week, it becomes increasingly easier to access a meditative state. Making meditation a part of your life can lead to lower levels of stress and anxiety and a greater level of personal connectedness. Try the steps below to begin your meditation practice.

1. Find a quiet place where you can be alone and away from distractions such as the conversations of others, the television or the radio.

2. Sit down, either on the floor, a cushion, grass or a chair. Keep your shoulders back and your head upright. If sitting in a chair keep your back straight. You can also lie on your back. Wherever you decide to sit make sure you are comfortable.

3. Rest your hands flat on your legs or clasp them together, laying them on your waist. Again, do whatever is most comfortable for you.

4. Stay still. You can close your eyes or lower your gaze, letting your eyes de-focus on the tip of your nose or an inch or two in front of your face.

5. Focus on your breathing, feel your surroundings, feel the air brushing against you, the ground or the object you are sitting on.

6. Clear your thoughts. Your mind will naturally begin to wander when meditating; it is inevitable, especially when you are first starting. Instead of fighting these thoughts, simply try to let them go and return back to your meditative focus and correct body position.

7. The more you practice the easier it becomes to get into and stay in a meditative state. Start with five minute sessions. As you become more comfortable increase the amount of time you put aside to meditate.

Source: http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=mindfulness

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Relaxation Techniques

The secret of dealing effectively with stress is learning how to take control of your mind:

1. Live in the present as much as you can – A lot of our thoughts are fearful, anxious thoughts – worries about what’s going to happen next, and what could go wrong, and what that means for us But concerns about the future only makes us feel much worse – they doesn’t influence the outcome of events. So, focus on the present and what you’re doing now.

2. Take control of your environment – Our home and work environment affect the way we feel. For example, if everything is messy it’s hard to relax as that subtly reminds us of all we need to do. That can, therefore, weigh us down and leave us feeling tired and drained. We don’t know where to start as we feel so overwhelmed. In contrast, fresh flowers, air fresheners, a light environment, and photos and pictures tend to make us feel relaxed, and help improve our mood and leave us feeling happier. 

3. Take up meditation – In meditation we actively quieten our mind, and seek to take control of that restless stream of thought that can stop us from experiencing true inner peace and calm.

4. Stop procrastinating – One of the most effective ways to deal with stress is to consciously prioritise the things you need to do – and then to work on the first item you’ve written on your list. That way, you’ll feel you’re making progress (and you’ll feel less guilty, too).

5. Don’t pay attention to what other people think – You can’t please everyone – and that is not your role. You need to be yourself, and to do what you think’s right, and to have your own opinions and your own points of view. Worrying about others, and what they think of you, will only wear you down (and it’s a moving target, too).

6. Make time for yourself – If you’re always available you’ll stress yourself out. You’re only one person and can’t do it all. You need some time for yourself when you can charge your batteries, and unwind, and replenish your energy reserves.

7. Sometimes a change is as good as a rest – If you’re stuck in a rut and keep doing the same things, so life comes boring and monotonous, you’ll start to feel frustrated and lose your zest for life. But trying something new can help restore your energy, and blow away the cobwebs that are settling on your mind.

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The 10 Commandments for a Good Life

1.  I accept that I’m not perfect, and there’s no perfect time – Too many people are hanging around and waiting for the perfect opportunity – or the time when they are perfect and have all the skills they need. But life rewards effort; so get out there and work hard … and eventually you’ll find that you succeed and reach your goals.

2.  I can’t please everyone no matter how hard I try – No matter what you do or how hard you try there will always be someone who’s disgruntled or upset.  So, don’t look for affirmation; just do what you think’s right.

3. I will participate in something I believe in – It doesn’t really matter what activity you choose, as long as it is something that ignites your passion … as this will bring fulfilment and true meaning to your life.

4.  I will learn to prioritise and do what matters first – We all get distracted by what seems to be most urgent … or something that is fun and makes life less of a burden. But if you’re going to succeed you need to set priorities. Don’t allow what’s less important to distract you from your course.  

5.  I will be select when it comes to choosing friends – We’re influenced and shaped by the people we spend time with. Their impact is profound – even though this is subconscious. So be wise in who you choose to be your confidantes and friends. Surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you.

6. I will be there for others, and will help them if I can – In life, we reap what we sow – and that’s a crucial principle. That means the more that you help others, the more they will help you.

7.  I will choose to focus on the positives – Our thoughts affect our feelings and the ways that we behave. If you don’t expect success then it’s likely you will fail – in your work, relationships and life in general. So listen to your self talk … and straighten out your thinking … and start to focus on the positives!  

8.  I will true to myself – You can’t be happy living someone else’s life. You need to discover and develop your own authentic self.That’s when you’re truly beautiful, and life feels meaningful.

9.  I will live in the present and enjoy the “now” – The past is gone and the future isn’t promised.  Life is happening in this moment, so cease the day and enjoy “now”.

10.  I will look for the good and be thankful for each day – Life is full of gifts, if we will only stop and notice. If we choose to be thankful, and treasure all life’s gifts, then we’ll find our lives are filled with joy and happiness – and the hurts and disappointments won’t weigh us down as much.

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Tips for Cultivating Calmness

1. Try and develop a calm morning ritual instead of starting the day off in a stressful rush.

2. Notice how you tend to automatically respond to a stressful or irritating person or event.

3. Decide to not take things personally; be the kind of person who it’s hard to offend.

4. Develop an attitude of gratitude – and decide to be thankful for the little things in life.

5. Develop healthy ways of coping with stress (as stress is an inevitable part of life.)

6. Single task instead of multitasking (as it leads to fewer mistakes in the end.)

7. Make more time for quiet and reduce the constant noise.

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