self help links
Life can be tough, exciting, complicated, challenging and full of questions, great and small. It's helpful to share and face those challenges, and simply give things a try. This is a very small starter selection of links and resources. I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. If you are an author or expert who would like to join the self help central network then drop me a line.
Like so many things in life, a little stress is good for us. It literally keeps us on our toes, ready to face the day and feel motivated and excited about work, life, the universe!
But too much stress is seriously bad for our health and has been linked to a number of illnesses, from increased susceptibility to the common cold to heart disease, diabetes and affecting survival rates amongst cancer sufferers.
Too much stress can make you feel pretty negative about yourself, which makes getting back in control doubly difficult. We might blame ourselves for negative situations and feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to get back in control. We might feel overwhelmed with a perpetual undercurrent of panic in our body and mind.
And just as we all crave cakes when we’re on a diet, our bodies will often crave instant fixes for a few moments of stress relief, the glass of wine springs first to my mind but for others it’s cigarettes, drugs or sugary foods.
If you feel you can’t cope, can’t work out what’s stressing you out or you are experiencing prolonged periods of sadness or feeling worthless then it’s crucial to seek professional help from your doctor or a counsellor.
Here are some links and resources for when good stress starts to bubble over into bad:
When I try and talk on the phone while walking I sound like I’m running up a mountain. I’m clearly a shallow breather and when I get stressed my breathing tenses up so my whole body reflects my mood. Even simple meditation exercises that deepen the breath can be so helpful for anxiety and stress, and the process of calming the mind literally gives you a break. Meditation is already very popular but I think it’s going to take off in the next few years. I’ve signed up to a couple of free classes at Inner Space Covent Garden and will see how it goes.
The Relaxation Diet
Unfortunately when we are stressed we physically crave foods that won’t do our stress levels any good, like cakes and caffeine.
Here are some relaxing foods...
- Asparagus, avocado, leafy greens and oats all contain B vitamins, which are needed to make serotonin, our body’s very own good mood chemical;
- Bananas, chicken and milk all contain tryptophan, which can help with mood and sleep;
- Berries contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C, which can help with stress. And if you are very stressed you may notice you are more susceptible to colds and bugs.
Bupa have a great fact sheet on insomnia
When I’m feeling anxious I often dream that my teeth crumble away and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Here are eight dream symbols that are thought to point to stress.
Singing in the Rain
I was listening to Sonia Choquette on The Aware Show and she said very simply “I say to people sing ‘This little light of mine...’ aloud, you’ll feel so much better”. And she was right. There is something wonderful about music and singing. I was in the park one summer day and a local school band was giving a concert in the bandstand. They struck up a jazz number as I strolled by and were clearly enjoying themselves so much I couldn’t help but find their energy infectious. Now, I can’t sing a note and have two awful left feet. I even find it stressful to do either because I’m so rubbish. But when I do manage to let myself go for even a moment it’s such a good feeling.
And I also realised those boys and girls were doing something they had real passion for. In times of stress it’s easy to put what we love doing to one side while we try and sort out the difficult stuff. Perhaps putting even a little time aside for lovely things can help give us a bit of space and remember our priorities.