Stress Awareness Month 2020 – Jo Romero’s 5 Top Tips
Stress Awareness Month 2020 - 5 Top Tips from Jo Romero
Stress Awareness Month
April is Stress Awareness Month 2020 and I asked my good friend and fellow health writer Jo Romero to guest this post. Jo is a writer and food blogger and runs the Comfort Bites food blog. Jo is also a talented photographer and you can find her work on Instagram. She is the author of Love Life, Stress Less, available on Amazon Kindle and Paperback. Just like Jo, her book is warm, honest and authentic. I really enjoyed the treasury of nuggets and gentle little nudges. This is not a book to read and put away on your bookshelf... it's one to keep handy as a pick-me-up on those "ain't it awful" days!
Stress is one of the biggest problems many of us have to face in our modern lives. And it could be contributing to so many of the things we complain about, too: sleeplessness, anxiety, fatigue, mood - even some chronic illnesses could be made worse by stress.
And many of us might not even realise we’re stressed at all, because we’re so used to it. I remember one doctor asking me, when I had developed sore, itchy psoriasis patches all over my scalp, face, knees and elbows if I was stressed. I assured him I wasn’t.
There I was, picking up steroid lotions for my skin, IBS pills for my gut and smiling wildly, nodding and reassuring him I was just fine. In reality, I was sleeping very little, eating a diet of pasta and ice cream and working a 50-hour week, sometimes taking calls from clients at 5am, or earlier. Of course I was stressed.
Stress comes from all angles
Stress can come from many different directions though and take various forms. As well as work-related stress, we can feel it from our relationships with family and friends. We might overthink problems or worry about what we wear or what people might think about us. We get very wrapped up in what we should or shouldn’t be doing with our lives that we don’t often slow down and look at what’s around us on the way.
Of course, I ended up in a therapist’s office on a chilly October afternoon, sobbing into a tissue and being diagnosed with depression, anxiety and PTSD. Looking back, it was the best thing I ever did. She gave me homework.
She helped me learn to think differently about my perceived problems, and the anxiety and depression gradually began to lift. And then, once the therapy was over, I started to notice that I saw the world in a different way.
Love Life, Stress Less
The title of my book, Love Life, Stress Less, I think sums it up.
When you look around and start paying attention to the love and joy that’s there for you in life, your stress starts to diminish. I found myself giving little pep talks whenever things got a bit scary, helping me to rethink situations in a new way.
I started to take online courses and read books on subjects I loved. Instead of rushing about, sullen-faced, with my head down at the pavement (or my phone), I’d look up at clouds and stop to watch squirrels nibbling on acorns. I started to become fascinated with nature and why things happen.
It’s almost as if my inner child finally woke up and found things fun again. And then I also saw a lot of people acting like I was before: short-tempered, phone addicted and with permanently furrowed brows.
So I decided to write my book to help share what worked for me - a collection of short, inspiring pep talks, some only a page or two long, to help you look at life with a bit more awe and find the joy in your every day. By actively loving life, you might find yourself starting to stress less.
My 5 Top Tips for Reducing Stress for Stress Awareness Month
Find Your Inner Child
Think back to when you were five or six years old. Were you stressed? Probably not. You were out playing with friends, climbing trees, playing in crisp, autumn leaves. I bet you asked your parents why things happen a lot, and why the sky is blue. Try and bring that curiosity back. Find the fun in life and laugh at silly things. Laughing is great for releasing stress, and I tend to do it quite a lot. Crazy dancing works too. We don’t have all the answers, so let’s not pretend to.
Do Something You Love
I used to love drawing and painting, until I got busy with uni and then work and forgot that I ever did it in the first place. Recently I’ve started sketching again and have met some new friends who I go out and sketch with. It’s amazing the joy and peace you can get from practicing an activity or hobby that you love. A few minutes can change your attitude for the whole day. Love reading? Sewing? Walking? Just pencil in a little time each day to do something you enjoy.
When we stress about something or get anxious, quite often the thing that is driving it is fear. Fear of losing our jobs, friends, or a treasured possession. There are ways you can reframe many common worries and anxieties to make them less scary or even positive, and I talk about some of these in the book. You might want to find a trusted therapist to kick start this, like I did. Eventually, you’ll find daily challenges much less worrying and stressful.
Feeling grateful for something - anything - can lift your mood almost immediately. Try it first thing in the morning. Think of five things you’re grateful for. Do it now. It can be the food in your fridge. Or the hugs you get from a loved one. Or even the oxygen that we breathe. We can all find something to be grateful for. By practising gratitude, we seem to shift our consciousness up a notch and we feel better and calmer about our day.
Feeling grateful for something - anything - can lift your mood almost immediately. Try it first thing in the morning. Think of five things you’re grateful for. Do it now. Click To Tweet
You’re one of over seven billion people living on this rocky, mossy ball that is our planet. I make the point in the book that if everyone did a little good deed each day, imagine what kind of world that would be. Smile, as you say hello to people. Help where you can. Listen to a friend. Take them out for tea once in a while. By spreading kindness, we start to make others feel good and more appreciated and reduce a little of their stress into the bargain. And doesn’t that sound amazing?
Further reading: De-stress Your Health in 6 Simple Steps