As the long summer days end, life returns to manic school schedules, shorter days, colder temperatures and spending less time outdoors. Trying to adjust can sometimes feel overwhelming and stressful. Our busy lives can take over and as we go through the motions, we can suddenly find ourselves feeling like we are unable to stay on top of everything. So, as summer gives way to crisp brown leaves, follow these tips for ways to take advantage of the season and de-stress, as we head into Autumn.
1. Make some ‘Me-Time’
How often do we find ourselves saying, 'I would love to do that, but I just don’t have time', 'I want to join a class, but there’s no way I can fit it in', 'Yes that all sounds lovely, but I don’t have time to relax'. The key to lowering your stress levels, is to make time. Taking time out to do something you enjoy, can lead to a better state of mental well-being. If you feel good, you spend less time resenting the feeling of 'you don’t have time’ and spend more time enjoying the moment. A better state of mental well-being can even improve our productivity, making the 'me-time' more achievable. Find something that feels right for you, whether it be a relaxing massage, a bath, or some time spent on a hobby. Time reconnecting with yourself can give a whole new perspective on valuing time as a whole.
2. Walking in the woods
Whilst the idea of getting out into the cold can be less than tempting, the benefits of walking in the woods can be huge. New research has found that being out in the woods is particularly beneficial for reducing stress and can have a powerful effect on our mental well-being. Studies have shown that, after spending time in the woods, their subjects had a significant reduction in their levels of the cortisol stress hormone, leading to a reduction in chronic stress. The theory has caused quite a stir, with an uprising in the UK, of a Japanese trend termed 'forest-bathing’, which involves spending time in the forest and becoming more mindful of your surroundings . Another added advantage of walking in the woods, is that it is an activity you can enjoy with the kids, as a couple or with your cuddly canine friends, making it easier to fit in to a busy schedule.
Check out this website for more information on the benefits and research - www.natureandforesttherapy.org
3. Mindfulness and Meditation
I’m sure many of you have already heard of mindfulness and meditation and maybe even dismissed it as being a bit ‘out-there’, or not something you can really see yourself doing. I used to feel the same, until I tried it. I found that even just practising it for 10 minutes each day, significantly improved my mood, stress levels and ability to be present in the moment. There has been lots of research into the benefits of practising mindfulness and meditation and it is now even recognised by the NHS, as being an effective way of improving your mental well-being. You can find out tons more about mindfulness online. I think this article in the telegraph sums it quite nicely -https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/01/24/mindfulness-meditation-lowers-stress-hormone-decreases-inflammation/
Alternatively there are local classes you can join, workshops you can attend, or books you can read, to help you find a way of practising mindfulness that fits in with your life. Choosing to practise mindfulness for 10 minutes a day, before bed, can also improve sleep, helping to fall asleep and stay asleep, which in turn also contributes to a reduction in levels of stress.
Akarmalife Studios in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, run some great classes and workshops around meditation, mindfulness and yoga. Check out their website for more information - www.akarmalife.com
4. Embrace the season
With Autumn, comes new colours, new foods and new opportunities. Take control and get on top of the season before it gets on top of you. As you see the weather starting to turn, dig out your warmer clothes, retrieve your favourite blanket and get ready for evenings by the fire. If we work on changing our mind-set when it comes to the changing season, we can look for new opportunities and try to find pleasure in all that Autumn has to offer. So, try out some new seasonal recipes, go for a walk through the crisp Autumn leaves, or do that one thing you’ve been putting off all summer and embrace the season.
Being a counsellor myself, I am of course, a massive advocate for counselling and the impact it can have on reducing stress. Counselling can help identify the main triggers for stress and help you find a way of re-balancing your life, in a way that brings fulfilment, instead of feeling overwhelmed and anxious. It can help you to find healthy coping mechanisms, that work for you and fit in with your life-style, instead of reverting to potentially harmful coping mechanisms, such as excessive alcohol consumption and over-eating, to name just a few. For more information on how counselling can help, give me a call or check out my website - www.julieannegamecounselling.com