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SAM: How do No Panic’s Patrons Deal with Stress?

No Panic asked it’s patrons how they deal with stress for stress awareness month. See their responses below.

Professor Kevin Gournay

My number one strategy is physical exercise. I think that regular exercise is also the key to preventing stress building, because simply put, it burns off the physical arousal that underpins stress responses. I also use simple reflection on a daily basis; usually just before sleep. I simply reflect on the good things in my life; many of which like others, I tend to take for granted. When life throws up problems, I use my life experiences to contrast these problems with those experiences. I’ve had considerable experience of International Development work and seeing people suffer enormous deprivations and trauma; I try to contrast those experiences with the particular stressful problem I’m facing and usually find that my problem is, in the big scheme of things, not really important. One thing that I use often is the very technique I suggest to all those with anxiety disorders – slow diaphragmatic breathing – this genuinely reduces blood pressure; but also serves to enhance tranquillity. I don’t meditate (I get a meditative state when I run long distances; anything over 40 minutes) but I know from others that preparation for meditation requires slow breathing.

Professor Roz Shafran

My personal top tip for managing stress is to make sure there are at least some pleasurable activities in the day for oneself. It might be simple (such as checking a particular website or making a phone call) or something bigger like a trip to the theatre.

Jeremy Dyson

Meditation/Relaxation. If I feel the stress levels started to rise I make sure I make time for a daily mediation session – 10 mins minimum of counting breaths. I used to do a progressive relaxation exercise too – relaxing muscles from toes up to my head and back. Either of these has always helped me through a stressful time – even five minutes a day is beneficial.

Cut out caffeine. If I feel heart rate going – or feel uptight – i go to down to one or two cups of tea a day max – no coffee – and switch to chamomile tea/mint tea as my main beverage.

Relaxing soak in a bath – I like relaxing bubbles too – Radox will do – nothing fancy.

Sleep – make sure I’m getting enough – a few early nights always helps

Exercise – definitely a major help – perhaps the most important of all of these. 20-30 mins of cardio (I’m lucky to have steep hills near where I live so no gym required) – or 30-40 min swim. It helps promote physical tiredness and thus boosts a good night’s sleep too.

Eat well – cut out the unhealthy stuff I find helps. Up the fruit and veg.

Do what you love – some time doing whatever your most absorbing pastime is. I like playing music. Doesn’t matter what it is as long as it absorbs you.

Talking it out – If I’m worrying about something in particular I find talking it through with a friend always helps.

Prayer – if you have a spiritual side – (and that doesn’t mean you have to be a follower of a particular religion) – a prayer to Higher Power/the Universe – whatever you want to call it – can be a powerful stress-reliever too.

Professor Anthony Sheehan

  • Firstly, like many I find exercise helps me a lot. I like to run (very slowly;I’m not built for distance!) The feeling space that running creates really helps me. Worries like to occupy space and I find if I get outdoors I give those worries so much space that they seem to get diluted. I also like the rhythm of running and breathing…it’s a distraction from whatever is in my mind.
  • Secondly I’ve gotten pretty good at reminding myself that I am allowed a ‘second thought’ If I approach a situation and my first thought is a worrying one I give myself a break and say in my own head “give yourself a second opinion” A second thought, if we permit it, is almost always less negative than the first. This helps when you are experiencing anger too.
  • Finally, I believe in the power of love. To feel loved and to give love in return is so important to emotional wellbeing. If we can be in the company of love then we can talk about our feeling without fear and feel safe in the knowledge that ‘this too will pass’.
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