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Stress management SOS

This last week has been nothing short of a nightmare on a personal level. James and I are currently going through family court for our 9 year old and needless to say it had been super stressful and emotionally exhausting. This is a long road to travel and has really highlighted to me the importance of looking after ourselves during this time.

I have been drawing on my tools and wanted to share with you all some things that have really supported me through the stress -

Gratitude journalling - in a time where so much seems dark and uncertain taking time to focus on what I am grateful for has really helped shift that "all is bad and hard" outlook. I have really enjoyed doing this through art, using an art journal and drawing something I am grateful for each day. You could use words, drawing whatever you want to represent yourself. Keep it simple it does not have to be some profound thing, it may be as small as "I am grateful for my delicious lunch today". Start small if you are finding it hard to start - 1 thing each day no matter how big or small and grow from there to 2 or 3 things per day.

Meditation - now this is one area that people have mixed feelings about, not all meditations are for everyone. I personally found meditation really difficult and it has been through practice in my art therapy course that I have learnt to open up to it. If you, like me find meditation difficult try a body relaxation meditation. Even 10 minutes just to focus on relaxing tension from your body can help to relieve a highly nervous body. YouTube has thousands so play around with finding something you like. A really easy one is to breathe in for 5 while tensing all your muscles holding and as you are exhaling release the tension of your muscles. Repeat this for 3 to 5 breaths.

Being outside - yes it's cold but being outside especially finding a nice sunny spot and just looking at what is around you can help to bring stillness, even just for a moment. Take some time to notice what you can feel using your senses - what can I see, touch, taste, smell and hear this can help draw you back into the moment and experience the right now.

Singing and dancing in the car - yup I'm that weirdo, moving, grooving, literally SHAKE IT OFF! This helps to relax your body out of a state of tension for me I have a very stiff body I call it my trauma tin man body. Singing too helps to stimulate the vagus nerve which is a huge part of stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system - this system is the balance of the sympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is the thing that helps us come out of the fight flight mode back to baseline - a safe place. So crank up the tunes and sing badly even if you don't know the words, you won't be able to help not smiling!

And my personal favourite - painting

You can make it structured or get messy, use your fingers play with different textures from different objects around the house. Creating brings you into a state of meditation called Zen meditation. Have a play and give yourself the time to play. Explore, colour it up and just open your heart through use of your hands.

I hope some of these things help you if you are feeling a bit off, going through a tough time or just wanting to do something to chill out after a busy day. Even if you are having a good week imagine how much better you will feel just taking the time for you!

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