This post is a paid for advertorial in collaboration with Senocalm
I am in awe of women today. Absolute awe. A peek into just one industry – the blogosphere, shows a community of hard-working, conscientious and driven women who are utilising the tools of the digital world to create their own fully fledged businesses.
And in other industries – women are pushing forward in their careers, all while completely bowling others over with their sassy fashion choices and social lives to rival Carrie Bradshaw.
We live in an age where women are doing it all and succeeding (massively) in everything they set out to do.
What a time to be alive, eh!
But at the same time, a darker side lies underneath all of the success and swanky over-the-knee Stuart Weizmann boots. Anxiety is at an all time high and being plugged in – constantly – to everyone else’s best moments can take it’s toll. While we’re proud of our own successes, we can’t help but compare our chapters to others stories.
She looks amazing in her new designer get up and here I am sat in my Primark pjs.
She’s saved for an incredible £££ handbag and I’m sat wondering whether it’s beans on toast again this evening.
Our cereal bar didn’t quite match up to her vegan pancake stack with blueberries and coconut flakes.
Does this mean that I am destined to fail? Am I going off the rails?
Okay, so maybe that last part is a slight exaggeration. But you get the idea. Us women lead busy lives and because we’re so passionate, we put pressure on ourselves in all aspects of life to succeed.
A little pressure isn’t a bad thing, it helps drive us forward. But when we pile it on, that’s when certain things start to give.
And for many of us, I know I am included, anxiety and stress takes on a number of forms. Whether it’s a hideous migraine, exhaustion or digestive upset, they can each put a dampener on our active, busy lives – making us want to hide away at home until the dark cloud passes.
So with this in mind and with Spring in sight (when social engagements tend to increase), I thought I’d put together a little list of things you can do to alleviate stress, even when you’re going through a busy period.
Mindfulness and meditation doesn’t have to sound like some crazy hippy thing that feels odd. And sorry to generalise there but often when I mention the two M’s, it’s met with a few raised eyebrows. But once you get your head around the stigma attached, it can actually really help you alleviate stress during busy periods. Helping to ‘ground yourself’ even if all the other aspects in your life feel a little out of control, swirling around with no clear direction, can really improve your mental wellbeing. This sounds so odd now. Bare with me here. But bare feet on grass or in a situation where you would normally have shoes, is one really quick and simple way to ground yourself and be mindful. Mindfulness is all about being aware of your surroundings and being present in the now. Having bare feet is a really quick and simple way to practice this. Obviously I’m not suggesting you whip off your UGG boots at lunchtime and traipse around in the mud for half an hour, but as we near spring, walking on dry grass is one of the most weirdly calming experiences ever. I guess it’s why we feel so relaxed on a beach, feeling the sand between our toes. It helps align you with the natural world and reiterates your own presence. You’re thinking about the now rather than rushing ahead to worry about what to make for dinner, or whose social engagement you have coming up that you’d really rather decline. I have so many weird and wonderful tips for mindfulness, so let me know if you’re interested in hearing them and I might just put together another little post for you!
Make time for you
Having a scheduled pamper night isn’t realistic for everyone, so I’m not going to suggest that – as lovely as it may be. If you do have time for a bath and pamper, go for it – it can do absolute wonders for your stress levels, but if not – just make sure you take at least half an hour of each day to unwind – away from the constraints of social media or digital technology. I’ve found that reading a book can be the saviour to this and I treasure those 30 minutes each evening where I devour the pages of my current novel. At the moment, I’m reading a little less of a page turner – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying – but I’m sure everyone in my life will be appreciative that I’m taking steps to be a teeny bit more tidy. And it’s actually quite an insightful read. I recommend Mile High by Rebecca Chance for the perfect combination of girly chic lit and fast paced thriller. Or Liz Nugent’s Lying in Wait if you’re looking to fill the void left by Gone Girl and Girl on the Train!
Take care of your insides
Your gut is often likened to a second brain, so it’s inevitable that it feels the effects of your stress and anxiety. Even if you’re not an IBS sufferer like me, you might find that your stomach experiences butterflies or bubbling before a big event like an interview or an important meeting. It’s totally natural! But if you find that your tummy is upset, bloated or full of wind more regularly, then you might be feeling the effects of your stressful, busy life. If it’s getting in the way, Senocalm is a product containing simethicone that offers on the go relief from IBS gas related symptoms which are often stress-induced. Symptoms include bloating, spasms, discomfort and cramping. It’s gentle on the body and helps ensure you can carry on with your day-to-day activities, without interruption from your tummy.
Don’t be afraid to say no
The amazing thing about hard-working people is that they’re usually very kind and considerate to others. They enjoy helping their peers and I’m sure you’re no different! If a colleague asks you to do something, you’ll ensure you make it a priority to help them. It’s important to us what other people think and we want to impress and assist others. Even in social situations, we want to get involved with everything and FOMO is often very real! So our response is usually, yes, yes, yes! But overloading yourself isn’t conducive to stress relieving, in fact – it often makes us feel more overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to say no. Obviously your response doesn’t need to be quite that blunt, but others will understand if you say you’ve got lots on but once things calm down, you’d love to sit down and chat or help. Honesty is the best policy!
I love a good list. Don’t we all. Jotting one down makes me feel rather productive in myself, so when it comes to actioning it, I feel like a fully fledged superwoman. If you’re feeling swamped and overwhelmed and stressed by everything, pop it all on paper and take the weight off your shoulders a little. If you’re feeling adventurous make three lists, 1 – stuff to action now (today), so all the things you can do something about right this instant and tick off, 2 – ongoing stuff that you’ve got to think about or do (ring the council, MOT car) and then 3 – stuff you’re thinking and feeling. The latter list is important because in stressful periods, often our thoughts and feelings can carry us away and overwhelm us in a different way. Next to each thought, note whether it’s something you can control right now. Do you have control over someone else’s feelings? A colleagues mood? Or a family feud? Probably not. So it’s not worth taking up space in your mind. If there’s something you can action, do it – or observe whether worrying about it will change it and if not, let it go. It sounds pretty no nonsense, but it works with a bit of practice – and can help take the pressure off!
I was wary of including this one in here, because there’s always that one annoying person that claims that exercise is the answer to all of your prayers. And the time they reference this irritating fact is usually when you’re craving a HUGE slice of chocolate cake and you just want to flop into bed with a hot water bottle, cry for a bit and binge watch The OA on Netflix. Exercise? Pfft. That is NOT going to help. In fact, I am more stressed by the thought of it. But as much as I hate to admit it. *whispers* They’re probably right. I’ve recently been very stressed for a number of work related and personal reasons and the only thing I’ve found that has alleviated the dark cloud of worry-ville is going to the gym and completely immersing myself in the activity in hand. It doesn’t mean that you have to pound the treadmill for an hour. Err, no thanks. But leave your phone in your locker (the earphones normally fall out anyway) and spend 10 mins doing a bit of cardio, 10 mins doing some floor activity and then 25 on the weight machines. I am a self-confessed gym hater but this works for me. And lifting weights is actually really fun once you get into it. Any stress melts away when you’re working those muscles and trying to get to your last set of 10!
You are what you eat
Did you know that consuming large amounts of sugar can contribute to low mood, anxiety and frustration? Nope, me either until recently. Apparently it raises your heart-rate and blood sugar levels very quickly and then when you experience the drop in these levels, stress can peak and leave you feeling cranky, irritated and generally overwhelmed by daily tasks. It also induces sugar cravings (eating sugar means that you crave more of the sneaky stuff), which means we eat more sugary things and often we can experience guilt towards this, again stressing us out. Obviously I’m not suggesting you quit sugar altogether, because everything is totally okay in moderation but eating wholesome foods 80% of the time really helps fuel the day the right way. You don’t have to go vegan or cut carbs, but experiment with some new flavours and healthy foods and see what tickles your fancy. Cooking can be another great way to relieve stress but if you’re short on time (and I know lots of us are), try snacking on a Cacao, Almond and Date ball rather than a sugary cereal bar or grab yourself a bag of carrot and cucumber and a big pot of hummus. They’ll keep you full and satisfied but without that energy slump at 3pm!
We may be pretty good at dishing out the compliments to others, but what about to yourself? Girl, you work hard and you need to congratulate yourself. Often we’re so focused on what’s next and we’re such perfectionists that we forget to say ‘well done’ when we’ve achieved something we’ve been going after for awhile. Little words of affirmation can really help alter your mindset from a negative to a positive one, eventually alleviating stress and helping you feel as though you’re ready to conquer the day. Because you totally will, just to let you know! In case you need a little help getting started, here are 10 things you need to remember when you’re having a rubbish day.
This sounds like a patronising recommendation but honestly, I’ve suffered panic attacks in the past and often the only way for me to ride the wave is to focus on breathing. Sometimes when you’re going through a stressful period or life in general just seems a bit busy, crazy and all-consuming, breathing can really alleviate some of that bubbling anxiousness. Focus on your breathing, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Count to ten while you do it and really listen for the sound of your own breath. Make them as powerful as possible and allow yourself to focus only on your breathing for a few minutes. It works!
But above all, remember that you’re doing the absolute best you can – and comparing yourself to someone else isn’t productive, all it does is make you feel more anxious. I bet Kendall J isn’t worrying about Gigi’s new line with Tommy H. And I bet Beyonce doesn’t waste her time comparing her music to Adele’s. Everyone has their own space in the world and their own unique quirks, talents and USPs! We’re all following our own paths and our individual anxieties and joys and successes are relative to that.
You’re doing an amazing job! Keep doing you!
This is a paid advertorial with Senocalm, but all views are my own.
This post is intended for audiences in the UK only
Photography by David Mitchell