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How to smash up stress

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

In last weeks blog I talked about exercising without going to the gym. I don’t usually swear but this post comes from a place we’re swearing feels appropriate and authentic. This week I had planned to put up photos of me demonstrating each move and giving you a step by step guide of how to do each exersise. Unfortunately, you are not going to get that as life has got in the way. I received news that is out of my control.

Note that I have said news... what I was going to write was “bad news”; but it being bad is just my subjective option based on the fact I feel angry, screwed over, under appreciated and having to deal with masses of uncertainty. At the same time I recieved the news I also had building work start on my house, so my usual sanctuary of calm is a building site that is causing me additional headaches. My 21 year old cats dementia seems to be getting worse at night and he’s running around the house miaowing loudly waking me from the little sleep I am getting.

I almost posted up the original blog without pics and thought, yep that will do. There’s a preconceived notion that someone practicing all the wellbeing strategies will never have a bad day. Well f*ck that, if we didn’t have a range of emotions we wouldn’t be human.

So the world is throwing some shit at me at the moment, my plans and routines are out of the window. At the moment any self care isn’t about healing it’s about surviving the moment and maintaining hope that I am resilient enough to deal with it.


Let me share a secret... resilience isn’t about never feeling crap or always acting in a dignified manner. Resilience is about bouncing back from adversity and getting back to your core values.

This is what I have been doing to promote resilience and help diminish the impact of stress, anxiety and anger. There isn’t a clear prescribed route to follow but these are evidence based and by trying them out you can work out what will work for you at times of pressure. One thing I would say is if you are in a good place now then practice these activities because it makes it so much easier when it gets tough. (If you meant a new language in the year before going to a new country it makes the transition so much easier)

This might sound cheesy but the very first thing I tapped into was gratitude (Brene Brown talks about this in her new Netflix talk on courage far more eloquently than I ever could) I was grateful for the people around me supporting me, cheerleading me, and for the ones that weren't. I was grateful that I could see that side of them and be done. I was grateful that I had ordered the building work before I had become worried about future finances as if I had left it 3 weeks it would never have got done. I was grateful for the skills I have developed over the years so that I know that even though my life might not be going where I had planned it doesn’t mean I won’t be equipped to deal with what adventure is thrown at me.

Where does exercise fit in?

I did cardiovascular exercise and listened to LOUD punk music. I didn’t want calm meditative music, I wanted to process anger and have a stompin beat to keep my mindful attention in this.

When under stress the body produces adrenaline to get the body ready to move. The cardiovascular exercise whilst initially raising the heart rate utilises this adrenaline and helps recovery from stress as your body is getting the signal of “yes I am being effective and moving”. If you have access to a gym pound it out on the CV equipment (I used the cross trainer as it is rhythmic and can be more soothing due to the smooth pattern of movement)

If you don’t have access to a gym and don’t like the idea of running then creste a space the size of a yoga mat. Try exercising for 20 second bursts then rest for 20 seconds. During that time do one of the following for each burst of 20 seconds and then repeat 3 times:

High knees: (imagine running on the spot but bribing your knees up so that you knee Goes to at least the same height as your hip)

Lunges: step forward into a lunge position - imagine you are stepping over a small wall. if you can make he movement explosive and bounce between legs

Skaters: Start with feet slightly wider than hip width apart. courtsey your right leg behind your left than skip side to side so that your legs alternate

Walkouts: Lean forwards as if you were doing to touch your toes,slightly bending the knees if you need to in order to prevent your back from rounding. When your hands get to the floor walk them forwards so that you end up on a plank position.

Jumping jacks

body weight squats

Put your full effort into these exercises. It is 6 minutes of effort but it will make a massive difference. If you want details on these workouts just contact me.


As well as doing exercise, eating well can make a difference. I have no kitchen but what I am doing is ensuring that I add a protien to every meal to avoid going to a sluggish carb overload. Protein contains amino acids and b vitamins which are designed to help us process physical and emotional stress.

Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and if you find yourself going for an alcoholic drink check in with yourself about what moderation looks like. Alcohol is a depressant and does impact on sleep.

Finally my last strategy is allow your body to feel uncomfortable. Your emotions and reactions are valid. My heart and thoughts were racing and felt like they were out of control. It’s easy to get in a cycle of feeling anxious and being anxious. Your heart is racing because there is a tiger in the room and it is throwing shit at you. You are not shit, it’s the situation that is shit, your heart rate will recover, the same way that it does after exercise.

So my house is a building site. I can’t guarantee that the renovation will be better than what I originally had but everything had been torn down and what I can do is instead of sitting crying on the dusty floor is play around with what pieces and fit were, and who knows it could work better for me than before.

Sarah is an Occupational Therapist and personal trainer in Solihull who is passionate about helping people flourish @MoodLifterPT

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