With stress becoming a key concern for the UK population, we decided to sit down with the wellbeing experts at NEOM to discover ways to combat stress to help keep us balanced and healthy.
In for 7 out for 11 the NEOM way! You can use this technique anywhere and at any time to help clear your mind, lower your heartrate, and ultimately combat stress.
Sounds silly but when our inhalations become longer than our exhalations, it’s a sure sign of heightened stress. Why? Because inhalation stimulates the sympathetic system (accelerating heart rate and raising blood pressure) and exhalation stimulates the parasympathetic system (decreasing heart rate and lowering blood pressure). And when the two branches of our nervous system are working in perfect opposition, our in and out breaths are naturally balanced. By consciously lengthening your exhalation, your heart rate slows, blood pressure drops and your muscles relax. It really is that simple!
Music can instantly change your mood. Have a selection of 3 songs that make you happy, 3 songs that blow the cobwebs away (especially useful if you can sing along with all your might) and 3 songs that calm you down. As you sing along, you naturally tend to take more breath into the body, giving you a boost of oxygen which starts to help relax the body, then not only does the body release helpful hormones such as endorphins that give you a feeling of pleasure, because you are controlling (but not restricting) your breath along with the song your brain finds it’s way back to balance.
Stress is essentially caused by the production of extra energy in the body. This energy is created in response to the brain believing that it is under threat and goes back to caveman times. The reason our bodies do this is so that we have enough energy and power to fight our attacker and survive or to outrun the threat and survive. In today’s society stress builds up pretty much constantly for many of us, because essentially the brain doesn’t know the difference between an actual threat to our life and a perceived one. So, the result is that with deadlines, expectations and perfectionist tendendancies, our brain believes we are almost constantly under stress and our body constantly has excess energy flooding through it. Exercise, be it the gym, swimming or brisk walking, makes good use of that excess energy and releases it safely from the body to help combat stress.
Take yourself outside, ideally for 20 minutes, but even 5 will work wonders to combat stress, particularly if you combine it with the NEOM 7/11 Breathing Technique as described in tip number one! Being outside works on so many levels; you change the environment you are in – literally walking away from the source of stress, using up some of your excess energy and by putting space between you and whatever is causing you stress, it will allow you space to gain a little (or a lot) of a healthier perspective. You are also heading outside, where even on a cloudy day in the U.K. you will receive some Vitamin D.
Write it out
If your stress is causing you to go round and round in circles and you feel stuck in your mind and emotions, a really effective way to move forward is to write and write and write! Then write some more. Start off by writing everything that you’re thinking, feeling and that’s bubbling around in your head. Everything. Keep writing, and each time you stop, breathe and ask yourself “What else?” and then write some more. Eventually you will feel that you have let it all out. Then pause. Reflect on how you feel now. If you genuinely have released all the stress and emotional turmoil, you should feel calm inside and ready to find a solution or positive next steps. So, don’t leave yourself hanging! Use that wonderful feeling of calm focus to decide what action you are going to take. Ask yourself a positive, empowering question, such as “What do I want to happen?” or “How can I move forward?” or “What’s my real goal here?” and then write out your answer to that.