I’m great in an emergency situation. I don’t panic. I’m organised. I know what I’m doing. A couple of weeks, months, years later it is like my mind catches up with my emotion and I need to start employing techniques to reset and restore.
I’ve been attending Stress Control sessions through the NHS Wellbeing service. They are a series of adult education courses where someone will teach you all about stress and how to tackle it. These sessions have enabled me to begin building my own ‘toolbox’ of techniques when things are getting tough. A lot of these techniques you can use quickly whilst at work, hospital etc. In this blog post I’ll be revealing what’s in my ‘toolkit’.
Abdominal breathing and breathing training:
This is basically breathing into your diaphragm and abdomen. When you get stressed you may find that your chest tightens and your heart pounds. This technique helps to calm me down and the great thing is no one needs to know I’m doing it.
- Fill up your stomach with air. Some people like to place a hand on their chest and belly button to check that the chest isn’t moving but your diaphragm is.
- Pull in your stomach and not your chest on breathing out.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- I often combine this with ‘Breathing training’. On my first breath I think ‘1’, breath out I think ‘relax’, breath in I think ‘2’ and so on…
- The idea is to use slow normal breathing. It might take a while to get used to it, so don’t be put off if it’s tricky at first.
Progressive Muscular Relaxation (PMR)
This is my favourite! I was very spectacle at first as I don’t find it easy to relax. This I adore.
- You’ll need to download the relaxation on https://stresscontrolaudio.com or go to NHS choices www.nhs.uk and search ‘moodzone anxiety control’
- You need to find a room and some time where you can ensure peace and quiet.
- DO NOT listen to this whilst driving. It really does work.
- At first you may find it difficult to relax. Give it a chance and try it a couple of times.
- I’d recommend being fairly relaxed when you try it for the first time too.
- When you have honed these skills, you can move onto the ‘Quick Relaxation’ tracks when you feel ready.
- Eventually the aim is that you’ll be able to do this independently and can ‘nip stress in the bud’ before it begins to take over.
The Big 5 Challenge
This is a way of challenging those negative thought. It enables you to stand back from a situation and to take a moment to assess it. The idea is to ask yourself the below questions:
- What are the chances?
- What is the worst thing?
- Am I right to think that?
- The five-year rule
- What is this worth?
Breaking Stress Up
If you are aware that a stressful situation is going to come up. This is a great strategy to use. This is about dealing with the stress in chunks instead of letting it build up.
- Step 1 Prepare to face the stress -set a plan for coping and realise that it’s ok to feel stressed.
- Step 2 Face the stress- take it one step at a time and use some of your ‘toolbox’ techniques to stay in control.
- Step 3 Review how it went- congratulations you did it! Review and realise you can do it again.
I’m not an expert
The above are in my personal ‘toolbox’. I’m not a medical professional or trained in the above techniques. I’m just sharing what is working for me. This is also not a comprehensive list. The stress control session provides a more in-depth overview of stress and anxiety in general and will enable you to build your own personal toolbox. The great things about these sessions is you don’t have to talk and you can also take friend for support. These are the things that work for me. They might not work for you – so I’d advise getting in touch with your GP or calling your local Wellbeing team direct if you feel the need for help.
Wellbeing Norfolk and Suffolk Branch:
Call: 0300123 1503
Call: 116 123
Remember you’re not alone. Contact someone if you need help and advice.