With the lockdown extension now in play,
can our stress levels cope?
Yes, they can, says life coach and
hypnotherapist Camilla Sacre-Dallerup (she won Strictly in 2008, FYI!)
As we head towards week four of staying at home, it’s no surprise that many of us may be concerned about when life will get back to normal. And while questions might be whirring around your mind full of what ifs, it’s vital to bring yourself back to the present when you’re worrying about things that are beyond your control.
Practising mindfulness is a helpful technique that reminds us that we don’t have to be our thoughts but instead we can simply observe them. The next time you have a fearful thought, try acknowledging it without attaching yourself to it and stay in the present. Let it sit there as a thought and then let it pass as you gain clarity. You can also try journalling and just throw up words on a page! Write down whatever is in your head and get it on paper. It doesn’t have to make sense, so don’t judge it or worry about it, just write and let those emotions out.
Meditation is another useful tool for when your emotions are running wild and can provide great comfort and calm. Try this Square Breathing exercise, which can either be practised when you’re surrounded by noise (which might be true in a busy household!) or in a quiet space, like your bathroom, if that’s the only place you can escape to for a few minutes.
Count to four as you inhale then hold your breath for four counts.
Exhale for four and again hold your breath four counts.
Repeat this until you notice your nervous system starting to relax (take as long as you need). Doing this for 3-5 minutes each day is a powerful way to lower your stress level.
Raising your awareness of how you’re feeling right now and how you would like to feel can be achieved through a wonderful mind tool called reframing, which gives you an opportunity to perceive something differently. The following exercise will make it easier for you to look at yourself in a new way and make positive changes:
- Take a piece of paper, draw a circle in the middle and write in the circle ‘Me now’. Then draw out from the circle as many lines as you need and write on them exactly how you feel, such as ‘scared’, ‘frustrated’, ‘anxious’, ‘stressed’ and so on. Write down all the words that come to mind.
- Look at the words and consider whether this is the first time you have felt like this. If there were other times in your life you felt exactly the same, write them down on the paper too. As you look at what you have written down, you will probably realise that those emotions are not supporting you in moving toward feeling positive. Neither are those feelings defining who you truly are.
- Now, hold that piece of paper in your hand and as you read the words again notice how you are feeling. Consider for a moment that you have a choice – you can hold onto that way of seeing yourself or feeling, because really that is all it is, a belief you have created about yourself, or you can decide to let it go completely. If you are ready, then go ahead now and rip up the piece of paper. Now that you have let go of that old way of perceiving yourself, notice how much lighter you feel.
- Now it’s time for you to design a new way forward – a new way for you, where you support yourself, and feel confident and positive. Let’s reframe this pattern and get started on recognising what this could look, feel and sound like.
- Take a new piece of paper and once more write in the middle, ‘Me now’. Then again draw lines from the circle and write how you would ideally like to feel instead. Imagine it in as many details as you can. Only use positive words that support you, such as ‘happy’, ‘motivated’, ‘excited’, ‘content’, ‘free’, ‘confident’, ‘strong’. By reframing your thoughts and beliefs into empowering statements about yourself, you can design your ideal situation as if nothing stood in your way, not even fear.