April is Stress Awareness Month and for 2022 the theme is community so it seems only fitting that I should take this opportunity to source some tips directly from the members of our community for coping better with stress.
In the modern world, stress may seem an increasingly typical part of day-to-day life, but when it spirals out of control and becomes chronic stress it can affect a person on a long-term basis. It can affect our mental health but can also lead to a range of serious physical health conditions such as coronary disease and obesity.
The most common types of stress in the United Kingdom are work-related, confirmed by almost four-fifths of survey respondents in 2020. In fact, 33% of short-term absences are actually caused by stress in the UK. This increases to 48% for long-term absences. 37% of companies report an increase of stress-related absence in the UK.
These statistics are already quite depressing, and many might be tempted to think that working for yourself is the answer. to coping better with stress. But when it comes to entrepreneurs the picture is even bleaker. A 2015 report entitled Are Entrepreneurs “Touched with Fire”? states that self-reported mental health concerns were present across 72% of the entrepreneurs sampled compared to 49% of the comparison group.
In a 2020, report by resurgo that examined the mental health of female entrepreneurs in particular, the findings stated that only 32% of self-employed women described their mental health as good or great, 39% chose “just okay” and 25% said it was either poor or bad.
And to be honest, it’s not at all surprising given the many challenges and barriers that female entrepreneurs need to overcome when starting or growing businesses.
So with this in mind, we have asked some of our community members to share their top tips for coping better with stress.
Stress, overwhelm or anxiety have such an impact on our bodies. This can have a huge knock-on effect on our hormones, and cause high cortisol levels.
As female entrepreneurs, we need to take deep care of ourselves through diet, lifestyle and generally finding what lights us up from the inside out.
Knowing that our bodies want to come back to balance and restore, we can give our bodies and minds the right conditions to repair.
I believe it is a synergy between thoughts, nutrients and self-care. We should be eating a low glycemic diet, low in carbs and sugar. We need to balance blood sugar and eat an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. I also recommend reducing stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
And don’t forget consistency. When people skip meals they tend to eat more unconsciously not really thinking about what fuel they are giving themselves. Aim for balanced meals that consist of protein, slow-releasing carbohydrates and green vegetables or salad with a healthy fat like olive oil.
Hopefully, these tips I have shared will be helpful for coping better with stress.
Rebecca Steele is a Holistic Health Guide, I combine nutritious dietary changes with a powerful transformational approach to mental wellbeing.
Staying hydrated is an important mechanism for coping better with stress. It is a physical stressor to not be hydrated. Our body is a swimming pool for our organs, with at least 60% of the human body made up of water. Water is critical to the functioning of every cell in the body.
Due to the consumption of diuretics (tea, coffee, alcohol and soft drinks) which leach water from the body, and the lack of proper hydration, most people are chronically dehydrated. If the body isn’t properly hydrated it is very difficult for it to function properly.
Aiming to drink 2 litres of water spread throughout the day is a good starting point. You may need to drink more, especially if you are pregnant, sweat a lot due to exercise or hot weather.
Coffee, tea, alcohol and soft drinks don’t count towards your daily water intake as they act as diuretics, causing you to let go of more water than you retain. Better options include soups, broths and vegetable juices, which can both hydrate and supply the body with important nutrients.
Herbal teas are also a good choice, or you can improve the taste of your water by adding fresh mint, cucumber slices or fresh ginger. Filling up a large jug with water at the beginning of the day can be a useful visual aid to help you keep track of how much water you need to drink.
Avoid drinking large volumes of water with meals as this can impact digestion by diluting the digestive juices. A good rule of thumb is to stop hydrating 30 minutes before a meal, and wait until 60 minutes after food to start again. A few sips of water to lubricate the mouth during meals is fine, but try not to down a pint of water straight after you’ve finished a meal.
Anoushka Davy is a nutritional therapist, functional medicine practitioner and health coach, specialising in gut health, women’s health and nervous system support.
Good Quality Sleep
It is almost impossible to talk about coping better with stress and not mention sleep.
Sleep is the first thing affected when we are too stressed, and not enough (or poor quality) sleep in turn will cause stress and overwhelm. A well-oiled vicious circle.
Sleep is a basic need, like food. We need it to survive and function well.
If you were to look at the input versus the output in your daily life, tell me what you see?
If for everything that puts pressure on your system (parental responsibility, financial pressure, work stress, worrying thoughts) there needed to be an out-put (a walk, cuppa with a great friend, time to yourself, a day off) what would the balance look like?
While our lives are so much easier through progress, we still have an enormous amount of ‘stuff’ to take care of. Some important, some less so and if we are not conscious of it, it can feel like an avalanche.
The fastest and most efficient way to reduce stress is to redress that balance. If we use the stress bucket metaphor, what activities can you add to empty your bucket, which ones can you stop going in in the first place?
Similar to food, we can not binge all day and expect to have great digestion. If we fill our mind up all day, it will lose focus and energy. We need times of no input, like we need hours of not eating.
This is something only you can do. It is important to understand that no one else will do this for you. But it is also very empowering to know that you can take control and change things.
Not everyone around you might understand this, but it is never too late to become a role model and inspire others.
Veronique Mertes is a fully qualified Solution-Focused Hypnotherapist and Clinical Psychotherapist. She helps clients overcome struggles with addiction, anxiety, stress, confidence, self-esteem and other issues.
We all know that exercise can help to improve physical and mental health. When you exercise your body releases chemicals called endorphins (I call them happy hormones). These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.
Besides all the studies confirming that regular physical activity has the potential to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, I would like to highlight some easy to notice benefits of it and I would love to share with you something completely different.
This is what I hear from people that join my classes and personal training sessions when I ask them about exercising:
“Me time” – This comes mainly from mums. They are so excited to be out of the house and away from family responsibilities so that they can focus on themselves and forget about everything.
“Destress” – after a hard day at work or in general, it’s a perfect way to forget about everything and get rid of the stress instead of trying to squeeze it in.
“I become more confident” – through years of working, especially with females, I do notice more confidence not only in the gym but also at work and in daily life. They become more confident with their choices and when making decisions.
“Meet my best friend” – fitness class is a great opportunity for a healthy way to socialise!
Those are just a few reasons mentioned by my clients but I also know that finding your favourite place to keep active gives you a great opportunity to socialise with others that have a common interest! And of course, exercise is a great mechanism for coping with stress better.
Jolanta Radko is a personal trainer and co-owner of J-Activ Fitness Centre in Loddiswell. She makes fitness more fun and enjoyable.
I have found that setting some time aside to do something entirely for myself, like exercise, really helps me when I’m stressed. Prioritising that half hour or so on my own personal practice, and not focusing on work or the endless to-do list is a really positive form of self-care and the endorphins released from exercising give me the push I need to complete that to-do list and ease my stress around getting things done.
Breathing is a really important part of Pilates practice. Breathing exercises can help to reduce stress by increasing oxygen in the body, which reduces blood pressure, slows the heart rate, and releases tension held in the body.
Concentrating on your breath can bring you into the present moment, in a state of mindfulness. This practice of being mindful helps us to be more present, which can help to manage stress more effectively.
Just an hour a week of practising Pilates and breathing exercises can have a positive effect on your mental wellbeing and enables us to cope better with stress.
Tara Pitten is the founder of Pause Wellbeing. She is a Pilates teacher but also owns a small shop in central Dartmouth where she sells flowers and home accessories.
Make Time for what Brings you Joy
Women are notoriously hard on themselves, many times we feel that we must take on everything and do it all with a smile, and many women in businesses are raising a family as well – in many cases alone. But despite these admirable intentions, the overwhelming task of starting a business by yourself leads to poor mental health and stress.
The need to be able to run a successful business, raise happy, healthy children and be an active part of the community all adds up and can leave women feeling alone, isolated and burnt out.
Developing your social and emotional skills can help to support stress management and bring you back to a place of balance and happiness.
Self-awareness is often said to be the pivotal social-emotional competency as it can help with understanding and recognising the signs and signals of stress. It also allows you to recognise your strengths and understand your goals and values. The benefits of having a high level of self-awareness are extensive and can reveal valuable insight into what brings you joy.
Understanding yourself on a deeper level and identifying what brings you joy, outside of work or family commitments is a crucial part of developing a healthy, happy lifestyle and finding balance.
Creativity can play a major role in coping better with stress, but often times it’s not something many women feel they can do once they leave school. Knowing yourself on a deep level, understanding your emotions, as well as having people and activities to support your mental health and wellbeing can have a profound impact on not only building a successful business but creating your best life on your own terms.
Sam Williams is an illustrator and children’s author and founder of Little Star Design Studio. She creates books and learning resources to help promote social and emotional learning in children.
Mindful Use of Technology
Technology can be super helpful to us in so many ways, but it can also be a source of stress. Because it is so integrated into our lives it can be hard to disentangle from when we want or need to take a break.
Over the past few years most of us have increased our usage of tech, compounding the issues that it can cause which include but are not limited to: trouble sleeping, repetitive strain injuries, eye strain, back problems, getting caught up in dopamine-driven reward cycles on social media, a reduced ability to focus, and generally staying in more and doing activities that are better for our wellbeing less often.
Switching our habits to use technology more mindfully can be tough because most technology is designed to keep us addicted to using it. So, be kind to yourself and if you decide to try to make any of these changes, recognise any steps you do take as progress, no matter how small they are.
Having a more mindful relationship with your tech is a great way to relieve some of the day-to-day stress that you may experience.
Claire Collis is a digital education specialist, teacher and writer. She supports entrepreneurs and small business owners in turning their expertise and stories into books and digital education products.
Get out in Nature
It has been proven many times over that there are great wellbeing and mental health benefits to spending time in nature. Numerous studies show that visiting green spaces can reduce psychological stress. In fact, studies have found that natural settings are more effective than built-up settings in reducing levels of stress as measured by both cortisol and α-amylase.
Theories suggest that natural environments are effective at reducing levels of stress because they offer specific attributes that we as humans consider to have inherent survival qualities, such as water and spatial openness.
Further research has shown that spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. The research showed that the benefits peaked between 200–300 mins per week with no further gain to be had from spending more time in nature. The findings also suggest that there is no difference between spending one longer period out in nature or many shorter periods.
So the evidence is strong! Getting outside in nature for at least 2 hours a week is great for improving mental health and wellbeing and coping better with stress. So next time you are sitting at your desk and feeling particularly stressed, remember to take yourself outside and bathe in the beauty of mother nature. Allow her restorative powers to help reset you, to reduce your blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the levels of stress hormones you may be experiencing.
If you want to go one step further, make sure you fill your home office or wherever you work from with houseplants. Biophilic design, which is the concept of bringing nature into the built environment, also has positive benefits for our mental health and physical wellbeing.
If you have found any of these tips for coping better with stress useful, don’t forget to bookmark or pin this post for later. And please share with any of your female entrepreneur friends who may find this useful.
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