8 Ways To Feel Less Stressed Right Now – Hayley Elam

Coming from a corporate recruitment and sales background, I think I can safely say that I know a thing or two about stress. Working 12 – 14 hour days was the norm and after I set up my own company, weekends were often spent ‘catching up’ too.

When I first stumbled across yoga, I had such a huge release during Savasana at the end of the session. I know this happens to a lot of people. Just being able to stop the chatter and move your body with your breath and then do absolutely nothing for 5 minutes was pure bliss. I often had a little cry – in a happy way! I had finally found my off switch.

Fast forward a few years and I am so lucky to have turned my passion into a brand and set up Lost in Yoga.

1. Breathe

Anyone that follows me on social media will know I talk about this a lot, but it is the most important thing. Not just because we would be dead without it, but because just taking a minute to tune into your breathing and taking long, slow and mindful breaths in and out through the nose can have profound effects. It will make you feel calmer almost instantly. Don’t have a minute to spare? Even 5 breaths will help.

Feel Less Stressed
Girl Taking Time Out in a Field

2. Stop What You Are Doing Right Now And Take Time Out

Step out of your routine, get outside if you can and just walk mindfully and really observe the miracle that is around you. Even if you do live in a bustling city centre, there is still a lot of magic! When we change our routine, we have a chance to press reset and to stop stress levels from spiraling out of control.

3. Practice Gratitude

Our thoughts and beliefs are hugely powerful and can stimulate psychological and physiological changes. The more positivity we can cultivate, the better the effects will be. Get into a habit of trying to think of 5-10 things you are grateful for at least on a daily basis. Really focus on each thing and the feelings that your gratitude evokes. Over time, you will rewire your brain to naturally be more grateful and to take pleasure in the simplest of things.

4. Positive Affirmations 

Change your negative thoughts around by repeating positive phrases over and over in your head or out loud. Just like with gratitude, our words have a huge amount of power to become true. The more we repeat positive things, the more our mind begins to believe them and the process becomes self-fulfilling. So if you are feeling down or stressed out, turn your words into positives. If you are feeling that you are not loveable, you may want to repeat “I am loved” over and over, if you feel that you are out of your depth at work, you might want to repeat “I trust in myself and my talents” or a nice allrounder “I am exactly where I need to be”. Sit down with a pen and turn those worries into positives right now.

5. Do Bhramari Pranayama/Humming Bee Breath

I teach this a lot in my classes and despite it feeling a bit silly when you first do it, most people absolutely love it when they realise the amazing effects it has.

Here is a great exercise to introduce you to it. Find yourself a comfortable seat and inhale slowly in through the nose, then on an exhale, make a mmmm humming sound out through your mouth. Keep the hum going for as long as possible before inhaling again. Repeat for 6 rounds. Then return to normal easy breathing, close your eyes and observe the sensations in your body and mind, notice if there is any change. Humming stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, producing calming and relaxing effects and soothing the mind. Give it a go now!

Feet in Yoga Pose

6. Smell Something Nice

Nice smells can lift your mood and either energise you or calm you down. Rub aromatherapy oils on your pulse points (make sure they are safe to go directly onto the skin) or put them in your diffuser. Alternatively, smell your favourite food, make a pot of fresh coffee, bake something – there are so many options! My favourite is to get outside the house and breathe in the beautiful smell of fresh air – even in London, it’s pretty good!

7. Systematic Relaxation Technique

This can be done anywhere where you can relax safely, even on the bus, as people will just think you are sleeping. Using your most comfortable, tired, drowsy voice, simply say each of the following to yourself, out loud or in your head…

Now I relax my eyes

Now I relax my jaw

Now I relax my tongue

Now I relax my shoulders

Now I relax my arms

Now I relax my hands

Now I relax my chest

Now I relax my stomach

Now I relax my thighs

Now I relax my calves

Now I relax my feet

Now I relax my mind

Woman practicing relaxation

Pause to notice the feelings and then, if you wish, you can repeat it over again. Stay with the feeling as long as you wish. You will be able to return to full waking consciousness, refreshed and alert, as soon as you are ready.

8. Yoga!

Obviously, I had to put this one in! Yoga doesn’t have to be about fancy postures or touching your toes. Yoga is simply moving the body and breathing; an exploration of the self. The combination of moving the body and breath work has been seen to significantly help reduce stress levels in many studies, give it a go now!

If you have never been to a yoga class, we run twice weekly complete beginners classes at Yoga Arch, I will also be running a beginners’ workshop at Yoga Arch in Camberwell, London, in March. This will be a 2 hour introduction to yoga, and we won’t take it too seriously, so just come along, have a giggle and meet like-minded people. We will all have tea and cake afterwards (optional!)


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