Stress is so prevalent it can sometimes feel like an unavoidable fact of life. A recent everywomanNetwork poll found that 90% of our members feel stressed, with a third saying they feel that way ‘most of the time’.
Similarly, the Mental Health Foundation found that 74% of UK adults have been so stressed at some point over the last year that they felt unable to cope — with women being more likely than men to report feeling overwhelmed.
We’ve enlisted the help of everywoman expert Sally Kettle — inspirational speaker, and the first woman to row across the Atlantic twice — to provide some practical methods and tools to help manage stress and deal with uncertainty. She shared with us a memorable mnemonic tool, CLANGERS — a well-established approach used in public health practice, prescribed to improve resilience and manage mental health.
If all of us did our daily CLANGERS and encouraged others to do theirs, we would probably halve the demand on health and social care – Dr Phil Hammond
C – CONNECT
Humans thrive off social connection: reaching out to family and friends and putting effort into connecting with them is proven to alleviate stress. But connect doesn’t just refer to external connection; there’s someone closer to home you should be building a relationship with: yourself. In the same way that getting to know others helps you cultivate ties, pausing to consider your own feelings and stress responses can help you learn how best to manage them.
L – LEARN
Closely associated with health and wellbeing through numerous studies, learning something new can be a great way to improve your mood and mental state. This can be starting a new hobby you’ve always wanted to dabble in, or enrolling on an online course in a subject completely unrelated to your day job.
A – (BE) ACTIVE
Don’t start rushing off to the gym (unless you want to!). Being active is broader than exercise and challenging physical exertion. Look for ways to get you out of the house, doing something that will raise your heartbeat — and in turn your mood. This can be as simple as going for a walk (kill two CLANGERS with one stone by inviting along a friend).
N – (TAKE) NOTICE
How often do you truly stop to notice the world around you? This is a mindful practice that focuses on being present in the moment and calls on you to invoke your senses to really notice and appreciate what is going on around you. So when you’re on your daily walk, ditch your headphones or thoughts about your to do list and spend some time really noticing the sights and sounds of the environment around you.
G – GIVE
It might sound counterproductive, this idea that when you’re stressed and need help, you should go out of your way to help others. But practising generosity is proven to make you feel better about yourself. Try and incorporate random acts of kindness into your daily life and enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling that follows.
E – EAT WELL
You probably already know that eating whole, healthy foods, rich in nutrients, doesn’t just improve your physicality but your mental health too. Experts say a Mediterranean diet can reduce inflammation (and therefore anxiety and stress levels) — so stocking up on cherry tomatoes, spinach and healthy nuts and oils is a great shout.
R – REST
We all know how important it is to take time for ourselves, to unwind and recuperate, but how often do we prioritise this in reality? Make it a goal when you’re planning your week to portion time in your day to wind down, whether it’s half hour on the sofa with a book, or a gentle stretching session. Doing this as part of your ‘get ready for bed’ routine has been shown to contribute significantly to sleep quality and reducing stress levels.
S – SLEEP
Arguably the most important letter in CLANGERS, we all need as close to 8 hours sleep per night as possible. Good quality sleep can dramatically increase your alertness levels and ability to deal with stress. Spending some time looking at how you can improve your sleep — such as avoiding screens before bed, keeping bedrooms a digital free zone, and investing in a quality pillow or eye mask — could be time very well spent.
Watch the associated on-demand webinar with everywoman trainer Sally Kettle (everywomanNetwork members only)