Last week I wrote about the tips I received as part of the Aviva Stress Less challenge in association with the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel.
I’d filled out Aviva’s questionnaire about my stress levels and trouble sleeping, and received some very simple but hopefully effective tips from their stress experts.
I was to allow my mind to switch off by making and arranging my to do lists, marking off which tasks were ‘do today’ tasks the night before. To help aid sleep, I was to eat more foods containing tryptophan, such as tuna, dairy and chamomile tea.
Here’s a quick update on how I’m getting on – and written at quite a suitable time when I’m just trying to destress following the challenge of a shopping trip to choose a wedding gift list with two preschoolers in tow.
It wasn’t that bad – really. But maybe my reaction to it was better because I’m less stressed?
I have a running to do list as long as my arm. I tend to keep it on my iPhone, but I’ve actually just bought a new personalised planner so maybe I’ll switch to this. In any case, I’ve been making a big effort to look at it at night at the beginning of my wind down after the girls have gone to bed. I’ve chosen maybe 2 tasks which are urgent or which I’d like to achieve the next day.
So far I think this has been pretty effective. I have felt I can just ‘let go’ a bit more in the evenings knowing that there’s a clear sense of what I need to do the next day.
Tryptophan giving foods
I already eat loads of cheese and it’s probably not healthy to eat more! But I have eaten tuna at lunchtimes a few days this week and – now hold on to your seat – switched coffee for chamomile tea a few times. I’d forgotten that I actually like chamomile tea and I’ve been drinking it in the late afternoon rather than coffee. I have slept better this week and found it easier to drop off – but it’s difficult to determine whether the tea has contributed or not. I’ll keep it up as it can only be healthy to drink less coffee.
At the end of the challenge, I’ll be choosing those tips to stick to for life. To date, I’d say that making an evening effort to glance over my task list is a definite contender.
Week 2 tips
Yesterday, the tips for week 2 came winging their way into my inbox. Again they were from Dr Doug Wright, who has worked for Aviva for 15 years after full time GP practice, and Paddy Anson Head of Strength and Conditioning at Gloucester Rugby. In addition, England rugby players Billy Twelvetrees and Jonny May and former Captain Mike Tindall provided tips which was very exciting news!
Work-life balance from Dr Doug
“You may be finding big tasks daunting to progress but building upon creating lists from last week try adding even the smallest tasks to your list to help you get a sense of accomplishment and gain the momentum to tackle the bigger tasks. If you’ve got a big task ahead, break them down into smaller pieces so you can see exactly what needs to get done — even if you can’t tackle them yet”
Wellbeing from Dr Doug
“Surround yourself with your favourite scents and sounds. Our surroundings can affect our wellbeing. Why not play your favourite music and use scents from natural sources, essential oils or candles. By creating a positive atmosphere whilst you’re working in your home especially when you’re working through what you need to do for your wedding can help keep you in a positive and uplifting mood”.
Fitness from Mike, Billy and Jonny
“There are certain stretches that can be done before bed which promotes better sleep. A couple of these exercises are the ‘sleeping swan’ and ‘bridge’ or try your favourite yoga poses to help you feel more relaxed”.
“You are already quite active and it sounds like you already have quite a routine going on already. However to give you a bit more variety finish off your running sessions with a series of callisthenics exercises, e.g. press-ups, sit-ups and lunges. This will work other muscle groups but will also help tone the larger muscles in preparation for your wedding day”.
Diet from Paddy
“Relaxation can be very complex. Nowadays people find it difficult to ‘switch off’. Foods high in zinc, antioxidants (particularly vitamin C) and B vitamins have been shown to help various different parts of relaxation such as vasodilation, lowering blood pressure and lowering cortisol. Stock up on oranges, berries and things high in omega 3 & 6 such as avocados and nuts”.
Wow – there really are some great tips this week. I’m really impressed (quick- get them on my task list!).
I find the tip about scents and smells really interesting – I used to love my scented candles and oil burners but have stopped using them since having children. There’s no reason why I can’t use these after the children have gone to sleep.
I’m looking forward to implementing the fitness tips – I’m familiar with the yoga poses so I’ll try those right away. There’s also no reason why I can’t add in a few of the additional exercises after my runs.
I’m a fan of berries, avocados and nuts but I don’t eat them enough – they’ll be on the shopping list this week.
I have yet to call Aviva’s Stress Angels on their helpline, which is ridiculous – I must make time for that and report back!
I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.