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Stress - it's all part of being human, BUT so is rest and relaxation.

Stress - it's been a bit of a buzz word for a while now. As humans we are primed to need a certain amount of stress, it actually keeps us healthy, that may be why we are all stressed now and then. If we have an easy life then the smallest things can set off our stress responses - those of us who live with a lot of stress it is how we manage to cope. Some people even actively search out stressful situations to keep themselves in that healthy stress relationship. BUT too much stress can send us over the edge - I'm sure many of us have experienced that moment when we have been coping with a lot of stressful situations seemingly ok and then the smallest thing happens and suddenly like a saucepan boiling over we end up in floods of tears or flying off the handle. Too much stress over a prolonged period can present itself as pain and illness in the body or mind, and decisions need to be made on how to deal with it.

We all need to follow a cycle of activity/stress and rest - which is why we all sleep at night - but on a much bigger scale our bodies need a time of pressure and challenge, but we also need the wind down time, when we take a step back and allow a recovery period. It's all about listening and learning the signs - and acknowledging that the body and mind need rest time. I know that many people worry about taking rest time, they tell themselves that they are lazy and focus on all the things they should be doing but not about what internal good they are doing. It is during our rest time that the body recovers and when it will grow stronger, and the mind is able to process and assimilate, so that then we are able to take on new challenges, problems and load.

This is one reason why we have savasana at the end of yoga class (and why I include that moment of stillness in Pilates) so that we are able to soothe and rebuild after the work of the class rather than just pushing the body and then rushing onto the next thing. Listening to our bodies is always a key part of yoga and Pilates classes - and we need to keep that awareness outside of the studio so that we can que into when we need to rest and when we can go out all guns blazing.

If attending classes isn't for you then finding time to listen and check in is important. Just 5 minutes self scanning and being present can help to que into what is happening internally through the body and mind.

Find a quiet place to stand, sit or lie down

Close your eyes (if it feels safe)

Notice your breathing the inhale and exhale - we do not need to manage it anyway

Scan through your body from your toes to the crown of your head and notice how all the parts of the body feels

Observer your mind - how busy it is and what train of thought you have.

Notice what mood you are in

Notice what your energy levels feel like

During that quiet time don't think or worry about what you notice but simply work through the process focusing on being present, then at a later time if something comes up that you feel needs addressing, deal with it then.

If you become aware of tiredness, aches, stiffness, overworked mind - then maybe it's time to take that bit of a rest to allow the body and mind to recover from the stress it is under and complete the cycle of challenge, stress and recovery.

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