I’ve been taking part in the Aviva Stress Less Challenge in conjunction with the Mumsnet blogger network and their research panel. I’ve been trying out the tips recommended especially for me by the Aviva experts over the last two weeks. You can read about my experiences with getting started with the challenge and the information that Aviva needed from me. And then how I got on with the first set of tips from their lovely experts.
I wasn’t too well during the first week – I was recovering from a three week long chest infection and was shattered, so whilst I gave the tips a try, some days I was just too tired to follow through with the diet tips of ensuring my meals were split in 60:30:10 ratios. This week, however, I’ve been feeling much better and the tips have gone well.
“What were your tips?” I hear you cry
And how did it go?
It went pretty well thanks! It could have gone terribly wrong as it has been half term but I think the fact we’ve had a couple of lazy mornings has really helped. No manic morning rush to get out of the house for school. And it’s given me chance to really focus on the tips that have been offered to me – which is the opposite of what I was expecting!
Prioritising and accepting I can’t do everything
I’ll be honest, there were a few lists written during this week – and then re-written. Work lists, house lists and children lists. Like I say, it’s been half term so top priority this week was the children….and the weather in Nottingham has been pants, so entertaining them and spending time with them has been number one on my list of priorities. Hubby was working so I was number one entertainer, feeder, carer, you name it-er.
We did have an amazing week where both children (aged 6 and 3 years) learned to ride their bikes. Whilst that was a little stressful at times, it was hugely rewarding for the children and me! Super proud mummy! And all thanks to my daughter, 6, having watched the elite women racing in The Milk Race last weekend and being inspired to master two wheels. Awesome – but that’s another story.
I’m not usually a lists person – I have a work related diary and that tends to work for me but writing lists was good. I’ve heard people say they write lists, but I’ve always just thought of it as another job to do and so not really bothered, but actually, it helps to clarify what the important things are…and you get to tick them off once they’re accomplished. Bonus! So I even added small things on as it gave a great sense of achievement once a big fat line was put through them!
A big achievement for me this week has been allowing myself to ‘let things go’. If it’s not got done, then it’s not got done. The fact the hoover is broken at the moment has helped! What’s a few crumbs on the floor when I could be out riding my bike instead!
I tend to think of my time to ‘just be me’ is the time I spend on my bike. I love my bike for all sorts of reasons, but one of them is the time it allows me to appreciate the area in which I live. I’m close to Belvoir Castle and the scenery is stunning. Some times I think it’s very easy to take things for granted and time spent on the bike allows me space to think and realise how lucky I am in all sorts of ways. But this week it has rained…a lot! Well, what more would you expect from half-term?!
So, out of all the tips this week, this one was the hardest for me. I have had lots of lovely cuddles with the little ones though – what could be better!
Now this one has been fun! Pilates! I downloaded a few You Tube beginner pilates videos and had a go. I was looking forward to this one as I have had a lot of back surgery for a 36 year old and I have degenerative disc disease and arthritis in my spine. I know pilates is supposed to be great for strengthening the core and helping with back trouble but, as with everything else in life, it’s finding the time. This challenge has given me the perfect excuse and I have loved it! I have really felt the core muscles working! The fun part? The kids joined in and it was hilarious!
I’ve also done a few lunges – that took me back to my athletics days when I was younger. And you always get a bit of a buzz from even a small amount of exercise, so there have been moments when I’ve been lunging around the kitchen – much to the amusement of the children!
This week’s diet tip was a little easier to incorporate. I’m quite lucky really. Whilst life is hectic a lot of the time because of the hours my surgeon husband works, he does love to cook. I, on the other hand, am not a fan, so I am more than happy to allow him his time in the kitchen and I’ll do the cleaning up afterwards. So this week, as he’s not been on call, he’s made most of the evening meals for the two of us and there’s been enough left for lunches the following day. It’s definitely made lunch times more relaxing and it’s definitely a habit we need to get into – no matter who is cooking.
So, which tip was the best?
The idea of the Aviva Stress Less Challenge is that you’ll find a tip that suits you and helps your stress levels so much that it’s one you intend to stick with forever – a small change for a long term health benefit.
I think for me, it has to be pilates. Not only will it help my back problems by strengthening my core muscles, but it also gives me half an hour to focus on something fun that’s not overly energetic, is fairly relaxing and still provides that endorphine rush afterwards. I’ll have some of that, please!
I just needed the push to give it a go to see the benefits. Plus, I think there’s room for ten minutes relaxation in a yoga-esque style with scented candles afterwards (…or maybe a small occasional glass of wine!). Either way, thanks to the Aviva Stress Less Challenge, I’ve discovered a new love that can only help my stress levels and benefit my health.
And I’ll probably become a list-writer too. Prioritising is key to managing a busy lifestyle – especially if I want to fit in more time on the beloved bike!
Is the Aviva Stress Less Challenge for you?
If you’d like to stress less and need help finding your inner-calm, you should definitely give the Aviva Stress Less challenge a go. It’s an opportunity to reflect and reassess your life. A lot of the tips are simple things that could make a real difference to your lifestyle and to your stress levels; things you’ve probably considered but never put into action. And there’s lots of great advice over on their health tips page too. What have you got to lose?
“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”