Stress & Wellness: Putting the Brakes on Stress

By Emily Harrison There’s a great line about stress being like dark chocolate – while a few squares can be good for you, too much can tip you over the edge…

Like most things in life it’s about finding the balance.

Last month we took a look at stress and the mind body connection. This month is the follow up piece which looks at some ways to keep stress levels in check and keep your creative fire burning (rather than burning out).

  • Stop. But you’re too busy right? It may sound counter-productive when you have a million and ten things to get done, but hitting the pause button, just for a moment, can help stop the spiral spiralling out of control. Or, if you are completely stubborn and insist on pushing through, then you will probably find you conk out at some stage and will be forced to stop.
  • Prioritise. So you’ve stopped! Good! Now what? Let’s take stock of the situation, CWC columnist Andrea McArthur has some great articles in her Organise Me column – think about starting a list, prioritising tasks and Andrea’s tips on productivity are well worth a read.
  • Breatheee. Use slow, deep, breaths to settle jangled nerves, help clear the mind and restore balance in the body. There is power in the breath and you can use it to recharge and refocus.
  • Quiet time. It may be stopping just for ten minutes to do some quiet focused breathing. Or you may explore other techniques such as meditation, guided relaxation/visualisations or yoga. When you are not sure if you are coming or going these moments of quiet time can be very grounding practises which offer reflection, insight and perspective.
  • Move it. On the flip side, some people find the best way shift a cluttered state is to pound the pavement or shake it out zumba style. Whatever form moves your mojo, exercising helps to balance the stress hormones in the body and boosts those feel good endorphins.
  • Nature nurtures – getting outdoors, squidging toes in the grass or breathing fresh air is a time tested grounding technique. (And if you are ‘too busy’ then pop the head out the window for a few breaths, stale air = stale brain I figure).
  • Drink plenty of Water and Eat nutritious snacks and meals. It’s one of the things that can easily slide when the pressure is on, but keeping hydrated and giving your body adequate nutrients will keep you fuelled and firing (she says reaching for a glass of water and wondering how many squares of dark chocolate is ‘a few’).
  • Laugh. Teehee. For body and mind, laughter is one of the best medicines. Look for lightness and humour when you find yourself on a worry wave.
  • Play.  Gosh, when did it all get so serious? Like laughter we need play and to look forward to pleasurable activities. It may be socialising with friends, playing music, reading , gardening or checking out an exhibition. Having things to look forward to helps break up the mundane or make the monotonous worthwhile.
  • Rest and Sleep. Stress and sleep problems can go hand-in-hand so getting adequate rest is important in order to have resilience to life’s challenges. And there’s much wisdom in the advice “to just sleep on it.”

The list could go on…but I wouldn’t want to ‘stress’ you out!

Remember, you don’t need to be the super hero. And if you find things are spiralling out of control or you’re wearing your wonder undies on the outside then there are many support services that could assist.

Wishing you much laughter and joy in the month ahead.

Emily Harrison is a yoga teacher, writer and communications adviser with a passion for health and wellbeing.  She encourages people to discover the vast potential and possibility that lies within each and every one of us. In 2012 she takes a leap of faith out of the corporate world and further into her writing and teaching…you can read more at