By Kasia Sowinska
Stress is a universal experience, and our ability to manage it can significantly impact our overall well-being. What we know about stress is that it serves as both a motivator and a potential hindrance. When the level of stress becomes too high, it can affect our health. If you would like to learn more about the nature of stress and how to know when its level is too high, read Karolina Jurasik’s article How Stress Affects You: Symptoms and Effects on our blog.
Although we can’t get rid of stress in our lives, we can learn how to be with it. We can grow the capacity to deal with life’s stressors and learn how to alleviate accumulated stress. Additionally, incorporating self-care practices and setting healthy boundaries can further enhance our ability to manage and reduce stress levels. We don’t have to wait for times of acute stress to intervene. Preventing chronic dysregulation is a gift to our future self.

Managing your stress through Somatic Practices and Movement

To increase our capacity to be with stress and to manage our stress daily, movement and other somatic (body-based) practices are very supportive. These practises use the language of the nervous system and help our body to release stored survival energy and go into rest and digest state. I’d like to introduce you to a few practices that you can try:
Move Mindfully. Mindful movement helps to release stuck energy and connect to our emotions and express them.
Exercise: Create a safe space where you can move freely. Play a song that you like and start moving in the way that feels good to your body. Listen to what your body needs – move slower, faster, make bigger or smaller movements. 
Use Your Voice. Making sounds, humming, and singing stimulate the vagus nerve, which enhances the body’s ability to settle and reduce stress. These activities regulate breathing patterns and lower cortisol levels.
  1. Practise making audible sighs.
  2. Sing or hum a song that you like.
  3. You can also try the ‘voooo’ sound. Take a natural breath, and with your outbreath say ‘voooo’. Check how you feel, what this vibration does to your body and your nervous system – do you notice any signs of settling or more aliveness? You can do as many rounds as you feel like. Be mindful to stop if it doesn’t feel right.  
Listen to Your Body 
Exercise: Regularly take a pause during the day and check in with your body. Pay attention to your body’s signals. Check for tension and heaviness, especially the parts of your body that you know are more likely to store stress, like the jaw, arms and shoulders, throat and neck etc. How can you tend to these body parts right now? Take a moment to employ a body-based technique, for example, massage your face and shoulders, apply a soothing touch, shake your body, let out any sounds, gently move or stretch or do a yoga posture. Check again if anything has shifted.
This immediate response can prevent stress from accumulating in your body and bring your nervous system back into regulation. Listening to your body’s cues helps you to notice and take care of your needs.
Orient Through Your Senses. If our body is stuck in a stressed state, the practice of mindfully paying attention to the surroundings through our senses can bring us back to the present moment and switch on the rest and digest mode (where we can repair our nervous system and process stress hormones). Exercises:
  1. Take a sip of water or tea and notice how it tastes. Notice temperature, how the liquid is moving through your mouth, and down your throat to your belly.
  2. Whether you are standing or sitting, shift your attention to your feet, you can press them gently into the floor. Notice the points of contact with the surface that is supporting you.
  3. Find an object in your surroundings. Take time to notice its qualities – shape, colour, texture. 
Remember, the journey to managing stress is personal and unique—find the methods that resonate with you and make them a part of your everyday life.

Managing your stress through self-care

Self-Care involves taking time to engage in activities that nurture you. It’s a crucial part of managing your stress levels.
Physical Self-Care. Be sure to sleep well, hydrate, eat nourishing food, and engage in regular physical activities that you enjoy, like running, swimming, gym, yoga etc. 
Emotional Self-Care. Take time to process your emotions. Talking to a trusted friend, journaling, or seeking professional counselling are few ways to support your emotional well-being.
Mental Self-Care. This could include reading, solving puzzles, or learning a new skill, but also taking breaks from screen time, social media, and processing information.
Social Self-Care. Spend time with loved ones and maintain social connections. Healthy social interactions can provide support and reduce feelings of isolation.
Creative Self-Care. Engage in things that you are passionate about, that are fun, playful, and support your creative expression.
Spiritual Self-Care. Engage in practices that are aligned with your values and foster a sense of connection to something greater. This could include meditation, prayer, spending time in nature, or volunteering.

Managing your stress through Setting Boundaries

Boundaries are essential for maintaining a healthy balance in life. They help protect your time, energy, and emotional and physical well-being. What’s important to realise is that boundaries work both ways – with others and with ourselves. 
1. Identify Your Limits. Understand what you can and cannot tolerate. Knowing your limits, identifying your yes’s and no’s, what serves you and what doesn’t, are important steps in setting effective boundaries. 
2. Communicate Clearly. Be assertive and communicate your boundaries clearly and respectfully, whether it’s at work or in your personal life.
3. Be Consistent. Consistency in enforcing your boundaries is crucial. If you make exceptions frequently, it can undermine your efforts.
4. Prioritise Your Needs. Remember that your needs are important. It’s okay to prioritise your well-being over other demands.
5. Seek Support. Practice asking for help and support. Delegate tasks if there’s too much on your plate.

If you would like to speak about the stress in your life with one of our therapists, send us and email at