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Can you remember the last time you had a good night’s sleep? Or when your thoughts didn’t race at a million miles an hour? Or a time when you didn’t worry about every little thing or overthink scenarios, so much so that every minute detail plays constantly on a loop in your head? Or the last holiday you took where you were actually able to switch off and ‘be on holiday’ without thinking about work or checking your emails?

Trust us you’re not alone in this bubble of overwhelming stress that we’ve all come to accept as daily life. Welcome to the culture of now where being stressed is a given, some might say even a badge of honour. Insomnia, anxiety, a sense of panic and negativity are common feelings attributed to stress and being under too much mental, emotional pressure that we can’t cope. We all react to stress differently – a situation that is stressful to some may be motivating to others. But at some time or another we’ve all been victim to it and increasingly it appears we are now experiencing stress on a far more extreme and accepted scale. Why are we all so obsessed with being stressed?!

The term ‘superwoman syndrome’ has certainly earned a name for itself in recent years for the growing trend amongst women to want to ‘have it all’ which requires them to be ‘on’ all the time. In a survey undertaken by Cosmopolitan which was published in its January 2016 issue it was revealed that out of the 750 women taking part a scary 81% felt negative about life, 71% had experienced anxiety or a panic attack and 40% had sought medical advice due to stress. According to Dr Judith Mohring, one of London’s leading psychologist’s the sad fact is that, “Women have so many arenas in which they can compete: how we look, the quality of our friendships, and, of course, the work we produce. Sometimes it can feel that there are just too many ways to fail. And that’s when self-doubt, low self-esteem and self-criticism can come to the fore.”

And it’s not just women suffering from this stress overload. This year it was reported that 10 million working days a year are lost to stress. Work days are now extending to longer hours and greater expectations to deliver. Our digital saturation also means that work and emails follow us home and a lot of the time to bed. Social media provides a continuous update on beautiful people living their seemingly perfect, successful, busy lives thereby creating a set of ideals that we feel we need to live up to. No wonder our self-esteem takes a hit with the lines between what is real and what is not becoming increasingly blurred.

But strangely in this modern, frantic world it is precisely this sense of stress, pressure and busyness that gives us a sense of worth and importance. Do days off and time spent simply ‘relaxing’ leave you feeling unproductive and lazy even? Again, you are not alone. Many of us are guilty of holding ourselves to unrealistically high standards, which only fuels this sense of stress and negativity. And now with recent reports suggesting that at its worst, stress can be a major contributor to coronary heart disease and cancer, concern and stress are inevitable reactions to the state of our times. So how can we break this vicious stress cycle?

There are many strategies we can put in place to manage and control our stress. And at Hip & Healthy we want to help you be the best, hip and healthy version of you so take a look at our top stress-busting tips how you can take back control and break the cycle:

Meditate daily

Just taking 10 minutes out a day when you wake up and when you go to bed over a consistent period of time will really help you to learn how to switch off properly from your day. Practice makes perfect – with all things, some of us find switching off a lot harder than others and so the more you practice it over time it will become easier. Check out the Headspace app for a great, free 10 minute meditation.

Keep a stress diary

By recording a diary of how you feel you can map your moods to help recognise your stress triggers.

Have a digital detox

Most of us spend our working hours crouched over a computer screen and our phones. We relax at home by watching TV and then its back for a final flick through social media and emails before going to bed. Having a digital detox helps us to entirely ‘switch-off’ and engage in activities that calm the mind.

Cut down on alcohol

Believe us when we say life’s about balance and enjoying things in moderation. However, cutting back on the booze will dramatically help with your positive thinking as well as the quality of your sleep.

Get active and choose the right exercise for YOU

Exercise is a great way to take your mind of the worries of work, giving you time to yourself to clear your head. But it is important to remember to do something that works both for your body and mind. We all love a good old HIIT (high intensity interval training) session, quick and effective it gets the job done. But if you’re feeling stressed this may not be the best thing for you – it will actually put more stress on the body, loading stress on top of stress. Alternatives like yoga, Pilates, swimming or simply going for a long walk offer great exercise choices to calm the mind and put less strain on the body whilst strengthening, lengthening and toning. Win, win.

Reduce your do to list

Reduce your to do list to one or two priorities – this provides a manageable task load and therefore there will be a great likelihood you will complete it. Don’t let yourself get stressed out by creating a to-do list that goes on and on, its simply not realistic nor are you likely to be as productive as if you put your mind to completing your two primary tasks.

Concentrate on helping others

Helping out other people is a great way to distract yourself from your own stresses. It puts things into perspective and provides a really rewarding feel-good result after you’ve done your good deed.

Don’t punish yourself

Give yourself a break. None of us are perfect and in the times when we have set ourselves a challenge or task and not been able to complete it, remember that you are only human and that in the grand schemes of things – will it really make all the difference? We all make mistakes and that’s ok. Remember your body and mind are amazing things and we should respect and love what they enable us to do!

words by Sophie Heywood – Twitter @Sheywoods, Instagram @Sheywood90s

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