When life gives you lemons, Happiness expert, Yasemin Trollope shows us the simple and cost effective ways to lower your blood pressure!
By Yasemin Trollop
Please don’t bash your computer screen when you read this, but I truly believe stress is a choice, not a requirement. I haven’t always believed this, of course. I was once that girl who would wake up at 3am with nightmares of all the work I had to do, the emails I hadn’t replied to, the looming deadlines, the meetings with friends I had to cancel… the list was endless, the thoughts were too.
It was an exhausting experience and one I plan on never experiencing again. I felt completely drained, giving everything I had to everyone, everything around me and leaving nothing for myself. Of course, like so many of these situations, I let it slide until I literally had nothing else to give. Then, I had no choice but to reassess my priorities and make the changes that needed to occur.
For so many of us, the thought of making tough life decisions is akin to cutting off your right arm. Be it an awful boyfriend you know isn’t right for you but you just can bear to pry yourself away from, or a job that’s working you into the ground and making you a paler shade of your former dazzling self. The true reason for not making these decisions is usually always the same – FEAR. The what ifs, the uncertainty, the thought of leaping off that ledge and stepping into the unknown.
Think about how many decisions you make based on other people’s opinions. Sure, they usually mean well and often guide you in the direction you already want to head, but YOU have to make the final decision based on what you want and what’s best for you, not what everyone else thinks. If you spend your life trying to please others, you will never be truly happy in yourself. That, I honestly believe.
As I became more aware of trusting my instincts and making more and more decisions that truly were life changing, I found that every last one of them had a positive impact on my life. They all worked out for the best. I know I’m not alone; a friend of mine recently left her job after years of being unhappy and has since found more opportunities than she had ever dreamt coming her way.
But if you’re on the cusp of deciding whether you’re ready to make some serious changes to your life, or simply too stressed to think about your options, try these really easy, ridiculously cheap (in fact, they’re mostly free) ways to claw a bit of yourself back into your day-to-day life.
1. Get your feet dirty
Having your feet out of your shoes and in water, grass, sand or soil is one of the easiest ways to get grounded. It instantly helps you get out of your head and into your body, so on your way home from work, stop by a park or the beach, slip off your stilettos and get your tootsies back in nature. Even if it’s just for five minutes.
2. Force yourself to take time out
I know it may sound like the impossible at time, but if you have one night free a week to run yourself a bath and light a candle, you will feel 100 times better. I promise you that. Put your favourite CD on, grab a glass of red wine to sip in the bath and tell your partner, roommate or friends to bugger off! In the nicest way possible, of course.
3. Remember to breathe
Starting your day with a few deep breaths will set you in great stead for the day ahead. I enjoy egg-laying breath, but I also find a few simply deep breaths are great if things start to get a little hectic throughout the day. Simply take 4 counts to breath in, hold it for 4 breaths and let it out for 6 breaths. The longer you hold your exhale, the more you’ll slow down your heart rate and stop the feelings of stress from overtaking you.
4. Meditate, or simply just sit still for a few minutes
Don’t worry, I get it. For some people meditation just isn’t your thing, and while I can’t rave about it enough I respect the fact that sitting in silence and letting your thoughts pass by you isn’t high on everyone’s to-do list. But I will say this, if you’re not into meditation or sitting still, try a moving meditation like yoga or Tai Chi, instead. Your mind will thank you for it, I promise.
5. Listen to calming music
Right now, as I type this post, I am listening to my favourite Zen music from Sacred Earth. It truly is beautiful, totally zone-out stuff and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Pop this on your phone and listen to it on the bus, in the car, at work and in that bath of yours and you will be instantly stress free. Ahhhhh…