TV presenter Anna Williamson has revealed her top 10 tips for coping with stress and anxiety.
"Everyone suffers from stress," Anna, who is also an agony aunt, told HELLO! Online. "It's something we can't avoid. I think we give ourselves too much of a hard time. We all juggle family, work, finances and friends, but it's really important to look after yourself."
The Splash! contestant revealed that she finds living in the countryside has helped her become much more relaxed. "Fresh air and open space is what I need at the end of a really busy day," she admitted. "Also, you can't beat a good bath with some fabulous Jo Malone bath oils. My favourite is the 'Pomegranate Noir', every time!"
Scroll below to see Anna's top 10 tips for coping with stress.
1. Prescribe yourself some 'me time'
Every day, set aside half an hour where you turn off all your electronics - your phone, iPad, laptop, the television... everything! Tell those around you that for those 30 minutes, you're unavailable. Choose something that makes you relax, be it a walk, an exercise class, reading a book, or having a bath. Make sure it's something that is solely you, your thoughts and your body. It's instantly relaxing.
2. Be aware of your breathing
Breathing is so important for relaxing. Breathe in through the nose for seven seconds, then out through the mouth for another seven. I do it about five times - it lowers blood pressure and really helps to calm you down. Deep breaths really help you refocus which is helpful if you're feeling stressed or anxious.
3. Do some exercise
I recently discovered the Altitude Centre, where they simulate different altitudes so you burn more as you work out - Prince Harry went there before his Arctic Trek! Even if it's only 20 minutes, I make a point of doing exercise every day. I like to spice it up, so sometimes I jog, sometimes I train in the gym - I love kettlebells. Every Monday night, I do my Jane Fonda workout class. It hasn't changed in 20 years, and it's the best! If you don't like exercise, just go for a walk - the fresh air alone will do you good.
4. Manage your time
I'm very guilty of always rushing things and leaving them until the last minute, so I try to plan my days a bit better. I find just getting up half an hour earlier helps, as I can do all the things I like in the morning, such as watching television and drinking tea, and actually take the time to enjoy them.
Anna Williamson recommends taking some 'me time'
5. Don't take your phone with you when you go to bed
Before I go to bed, I always make sure my phone is switched off, so I'm completely shut off from the outside world. If you use your phone as an alarm, put it on airplane mode. That way, you can use it but you won't be getting notifications and messages to stimulate your mind. A decent bedtime is really important, you need to switch off.
6. Don't take on other people's stress
This is something that, in the past, really affected me. Colleagues of mine used to be very stressed and hyped up, and as we feed off other people's energy, I started feeling the same. The best thing to do is take a step back. I create a bubble around myself, where I know I am calm. Anything outside of that bubble I can look at and deal with, but I don't let it affect me. Sometimes, it even helps others as they start to mirror your calmness!
7. Avoid coffee and alcohol
If you're stressed or anxious, avoid stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol. I know people love their coffee, but it can actually make things worse. When you feel anxious, avoid alcohol as it intensifies those feelings. If you do anything, exercise. It increases your endorphins which are feel-good hormones, so it's medical fact that you'll feel better.
Anna says exercise is one of the best ways to relax
8. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good
When you're stressed, you need people around you who won't make you feel worse about it. You can't avoid anxiety forever, but at the time, you need to look after yourself and have supportive people nearby. I feel very blessed as I have fantastic best friends I've known since primary school - they know me better than I know myself sometimes! If I need advice, I turn to them, and also my Mum - she's my rock.
9. You don't need to be brilliant at everything
As an agony aunt, one thing I've really noticed is that people get into a people-pleasing mentality, and put a lot of pressure on themselves. There's a big need to prove yourself, and to be a fantastic employee/partner/parent/friend. Sometimes you need to take a step back and realise the world will keep going if you put yourself first. You don't always have to be brilliant!
10. It's okay to have bad days
You don't have to pretend everything's always great. You have to realise that you don't always need to be on it, and that it's fine to have days where you don't feel up to it. If you're having a bad day, that's okay. You don't need to be cheerful 100 percent of the time.
Anna is an ambassador for LSF Personal Training which offers up a fully comprehensive and supported career in personal training, for more information go to www.lsfpt.co.uk