Start Living, Stop Stressing! Today is International Stress Awareness Day! Start Living, Stop Stressing - this is the advice given by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA) UK, which today (1st November) is celebrating International Stress Awareness Day. And to go with this inspiring call-to-action message, they have published a guide on how to live stress-free, 'Your 10 Key Steps to Stress-Free Living', which goes like this: 1. START TO PUT YOURSELF FIRST If you eat and drink healthily, schedule regular physical activity that you enjoy, and manage your time effectively, you'll be in a better position to help others. 2. START TO PRIORITISE TASKS There are only so many things we can do well during each day, so choose your top three most urgent tasks each morning and make them your priority. Reschedule, renegotiate your commitments or delegate - you can make it happen! 3. START TO MAKE TIME TO RELAX AND MENTALLY UNWIND Relaxation, breathing and meditation exercises have been proven to be effective in reducing stress and anxiety, they are ideal ways to switch off AND they boost your immune system. Just a few minutes a day will pay huge dividends. 4. START TO EMPATHISE WITH OTHERS There are many different behaviour styles that affect how we communicate with each other. Be aware that different people can perceive your words and actions in a way you didn't intend. Take time to listen to others and look for solutions. 5. START TO LIVE LIFE TO THE FULL Bring some fun into your life and spend a few minutes each day appreciating the good things you having in your life. This will help you to see opportunities for growth and learning, even from the most challenging situations. 6. STOP IGNORING YOUR NEEDS Know what is expected of you and what is reasonable. Take short breaks throughout the day and know when and how to say 'No' at both work and home. 7. STOP GETTING DISTRACTED If you're experiencing too much pressure or just have a lot going on in your life, staying focused isn't easy. It may help to ask for support from colleagues or friends and prioritise urgent, important and non-urgent tasks. 8. STOP ALLOWING OTHER TO MAKE YOU FEEL INFERIOR The key to stress-free living is to accept yourself for exactly who you are today, including past mistakes and things you might now be so proud of. Work on your self-belief and confidence and just go for it! 9. STOP BEING JUDGMENTAL Try to adopt a more flexible thinking style which will improve your mental well-being, whilst reducing unnecessary pressure for both you and those around you; practice being objective and understanding. 10. STOP AVOIDING THE THINGS YOU LEAST WANT TO DO We often put off tasks that can become a recipe for worry. Take control and promise yourself a reward when you get it done. And lastly, ISMA urge us to put this knowledge into action - as they say: Knowledge on its own won't make anything change, what makes it count is putting it into action! Feeling stressed? Stress is a normal part of life and we all experience it at some point. In small doses, it can help us stay focused and driven, and able to cope with the challenges of every-day life. But beyond a certain point, it can stop having this positive effect on us and start impacting negatively on all aspects of our life, from our mood to physical health, relationships and productivity. If you are worried you may be suffering from stress, seek help from your GP. There are also many charities that can provide information and support, like Mind, Rethink and Stress Management Society. How the Wellbeing Programme can help The Wellbeing Programme has been providing therapy through nature for people experiencing mental health issues – like depression, anxiety, persistent low mood and stress – since 2008 in Wiltshire and from the start of this year in Swindon. Participants get involved in conservation work, wildlife walk and nature-based crafts which are designed to help with their recovery. If you feel you would benefit from joining the programme or know someone who might benefit, do get in touch with us on 01380 736098 or email Wellbeing. Let's start living!