Simple ways to deal with stress and depression
At Awaken Holidays, as in all businesses, there are times when work can become stressful. We are surrounded by words describing interesting holidays in beautiful places and the images that we view make us wish to be on vacation, yet we cannot leave the office! We long to be doing yoga in France or detoxing in Bali, but the work load builds up and there are moments when it all becomes too much and we experience feelings of depression or stress.
We spoke to Viv Wharton, one of our holiday providers who runs wonderful de-stress wellbeing weekends, as well as Pilates holidays and health retreats, and she was very kind to explain to us a little about stress and depression, and how we can help combat and overcome those times in our life when we are not feeling at our best.
Awaken Holidays: Hi Viv, thank you for meeting with us again. Please tell us a little about stress and how and why we might experience it in our lives.
Viv Wharton: Hi Paul. At some stage in their lives almost everybody will go through a period of stress and/or depression. This might be caused by a life event, or overwork, or for no obvious reason. Most people will work through it without problem, however, there are some that struggle to cope with this low period, especially if it is accompanied by a life event, and it will often be difficult to cope with everyday life due to the stress.
AH: In what ways does stress affect our lives?
Viv: The effects can take a toll physically and mentally. In a physical way, stress can cause tiredness, aches and pains, low immunity to illnesses, such as colds and flu, sleepless nights, increased or decreased appetite and many other physical problems that make us feel uncomfortable. The mental effects include loss of confidence, low self-esteem and difficulties with relationships and communicating in general, apathy about things that usually motivate and excite us, and a general feeling of flatness.
AH: Should I see a doctor?
Viv: If stress or depression is affecting life in a very debilitating way then professional help should be sought. It is very important to remember this.
AH: If we feel stressed, but know that it is most probably a passing phase, is there anything we can do?
Viv: Yes, there are things you can do that will help; it’s really a matter of getting the motivation to do them when being at such a low ebb. There are some simple steps we can take to help ourselves that don’t require too much effort. Here are a few tips that are virtually effortless and should help to lift your body and spirit. Once you are feeling better, it is much easier to take control of the situation and start to get back on an even keel to tackle the causes that created this feeling of stress or depression.
- Breathe. Never underestimate the power of focusing on breathing – it is a very effective way to reduce stress. Simply by breathing in slowly and deeply and extending the out-breath will calm the heart rate, reduce blood pressure and slow down mental agitation. Breathe in for a count of 4 and exhale for 6, and once you have mastered this, increase to inhale for 6 and exhale for 8. Do this regularly, especially if you wake up in the night feeling anxious.
- Get as much sunshine as possible.
- Reduce or eliminate stimulants such as coffee and alcohol.
- Eat plenty of fresh foods and vegetables, and if your appetite is lost, try smoothies and juices.
- Invest in a journal and write down your feelings. Speak to yourself and ask yourself what will help to make you feel better? Write down these thoughts and you will be surprised at how speaking to yourself can often help. You have the answers within and by asking yourself the right questions in quiet times, the answers will often rise to the surface.
- Walk, do gentle stretching, or exercise in some way, so that you focus your attention on your physical body. This allows you to spend time in the present, instead of worrying about past events, or the future which hasn’t happened yet.
- Find a yoga teacher, especially one that practices and teaches restorative yoga as this is very beneficial for those times when your energy is at its lowest.
- Do nothing. Think nothing. Just be aware. Listen to music and calming sounds. Light a candle, or use some lavender or aromatherapy oils. Give yourself a gentle facial and head massage.
- Have an affirmation to encourage and help you, and repeat many times until you feel your spirits lift. For example; “I’m happy and bright and everything’s right. I'm healthy and strong all day long”.
If you try one or all of these things it will definitely help, but remember in most cases, stress and depression is a temporary state that will usually pass, so acceptance helps too.
AH: That's excellent, Viv, Thank you. Any last words of advice?
Viv: Yes, find time for yourself, love yourself and know that you are special. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to others. Here are some words that you may find of comfort and encouragement:
THE DAY IS FOR YOU
When you were born into this world you were given no knowledge or fear.
One thing is for sure that you will never know
God has decided how many days you’ll be here.
So you will learn through time all about life
And every day there will be something new,
It might be good and it might be bad
But there is a message that some day will come through.
So it is important now to take each day, be kind to everyone
But especially YOU!
Yesterday has gone and cannot be brought back,
You won’t be able to change what went on.
But today is here and is yours to say, how best it will be used.
You might rest, you might laugh, you might play, you might graft –
It doesn’t matter if it’s good what you do.
Just remember it is part of your allocated time and it is special and precious for YOU!
AH: Beautiful and sincere words indeed. Thank you again for your time and words of advice.
Viv: It's a pleasure. I hope to catch up with you again soon!
Viv is running a few very special de-stress weekend health and wellbeing retreats at her beautiful retreat in Spain. You may find more information by clicking this link: De-Stress Weekend Wellbeing Retreats (Holiday ref: AH140018)
At her beautiful retreat in Spain, Viv also runs Pilates Breaks, Pilates Reformer Retreats, Pilates and golf holidays as well as yoga holidays, weight loss and health retreats and wonderful and creative mosaic making holidays.
We thank Viv Wharton very much for her time. Interview conducted and article written by Paul of Awaken Holidays.