We can’t avoid stress but can we reduce its impact on us?

We all know modern life is full of stress.  Long commutes, pressurised jobs, financial pressures, keeping children safe, looking after sick parents. The list goes on. Is it any wonder so many people have mental health problems and drink too much?

Is modern life toxic?

Modern life is toxic -especially for young people.  So many people can’t hope to own their own home. They rent homes at very high prices with little security about how long they can stay there. They have zero hour contracts or unpaid internships.

Stress is constant

For people brought up in high stress households, stress can be a lifelong problem. Studies have shown high stress levels in pregnant women can make their children more easily stressed after birth. It also takes these children longer to calm down. So it’s useful to accept that we may have an inbuilt tendency towards stress. (Click here for more details)

Stress can be managed

It’s easy to solve this constant stress by drinking too much. It provides temporary relief.  But it is also possible to reduce stress without the hangover.

Some studies suggest up to half our stress is caused by external factors outside our control, stuff like work demands, job insecurity, financial pressures etc. So that means up to half our stress can be controlled by us.

Too stressed to help yourself?

This gives us hope that the situation can change. Even though, it’s difficult to break the cycle of being stressed, drinking, and then being hungover. But some simple tips can help.

Recognise the stress

So the first step in changing this pattern, is to develop awareness of actually feeling stressed. Sometimes we’re not even aware of how stressed we are because we’re so busy trying to keep all the balls in the air.  So simply taking a moment to recognise

“Yes, I’m feeling stressed,

Can help us hit the pause button on stress.

The 5 minute trick

Using the 5 minute trick can also help.

This is a very useful tip given to me. Put your mobile phone on airplane mode, and set the timer to 5 minutes. Find somewhere you won’t be interrupted. Then sit down comfortably with your hands by your side. Put your tongue gently to the roof of your mouth and become aware of your breathing.

Now the next 5 minutes is all yours without interruptions. Imagine any thoughts coming in at the top of your head and travelling down through your body out your feet. You’re just observing these thoughts, not deciding, not taking action, not forcing, not rushing. Imagine the thoughts literally floating peacefully through you. You don’t have to do anything in this 5 minutes but sit and observe. You know the timer will go off, so you won’t fall asleep.

Sitting on the toilet

The great thing about this tip is you can do it anywhere and at any time. At home, in the office, travelling. Even in our busy life, time for going to the toilet is still allowed. All you have to do is find a toilet, pull the seat cover down, put some toilet paper sheets on the toilet cover and you have a clean seat to relax on for 5 minutes.

If you’re going through a really stressful time, doing this a few times a day, can really make a difference. If you’re feeling pressure to drink, simply relaxing in this way for 5 minutes can help reduce this pressure.

So if you’re constantly feeling very stressed, or in a very stressful environment where you’re likely to drink too much, why not try this trick?

For more tips on managing stress, click here.

Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

This post was written by Carol

As some who gets hangovers lasting a week, Carol never drank too much - Once she got to a sensible age! However as a patient with an auto immune illness, since she was a teenager she has to drink very little. So she really understands how Irish society makes this very difficult. Carol is responsible for all aspects of Lifewise operations that Valerie and Angela do not cover.

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