Aviva stress less challenge
Image: Bernard Goldbach via Flickr

So, I recently discussed my experiences with anxiety and stress and disclosed one or two things that in all honesty, I don’t normally talk about publicly. It was all for Mental Health Awareness Week 2014 and if it helps just one person with their experiences, well, that’s great! Thanks to all who left such kind words – it was very much appreciated. We all suffer with a bit of stress right? OK, so perhaps some of us have more than others, or perhaps some of us are better at dealing with it than others. But, when it comes to coping mechanisms for difficult times we all have our own individual ways of trying to stress less.

I’m the kind of girl who has a very sweet tooth. So chocolate is always top of my list, along with wine and getting out on my beloved bike. Chocolate and a glass of wine are very short term fixes and obviously not very good for me! In reality they’re not going to help at all. A trip out on two wheels however is an amazing stress release and it really does work wonders for me. I’d love to be able to do it every day – honestly, that would be amazing –  but life takes over sometimes. With two young children and a husband who’s a surgeon working shifts and long, unpredictable hours, having a regular routine is Impossible, well, certainly a challenge! So, when Aviva and Mumsnet put a shout out for bloggers looking to take a step towards a healthier lifestyle and participate in the Aviva Stress Less Challenge, I shouted loudly: “YES please!”

The first step was to reflect on my lifestyle. Hmmm….a little bit of an eye opener. I’m not a single parent, but it can quite often feel like I’m juggling my career, my home life and my children with very little support from my other half or from family. That’s just the way it is, which is OK, but some times, just some times, I really would like to escape to a darkened room for a day or two (with access to turbo trainer sitting on a sunny balcony over looking the most beautiful hills with a glimpse of the sea in the distance….well we can all dream!)

The Aviva stress less challenge:

Question time – da da dah!

So, the questions were answered via a survey and centred around my daily commitments, my working day, my work environment, my home environment – there’s a lot of juggling goes on here and definitely room for improvement.

Then came questions on lifestyle – I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I try to get out on my bike three times a week. I’m tall and my weight isn’t an issue so I wasn’t too concerned with this area.

Then came the questions on diet…I am certain there’s room for change here. Like I said, I have a sweet tooth. I spend a good few evenings alone and once the kids are tucked up in bed, cooking a nutritional meal is the last thing I can be bothered to do. It’s normally the time of day I’m sitting with my laptop down to catch up on work.

What’s it all about?

The challenge is set to arm me with expert advice to try over the next couple of weeks, with the aim of committing to at least one for a lifetime.

Small changes for a long-term benefit to help reduce or be better prepared to deal with stress.

Sounds good!

This week is all about making changes to my work-life balance, wellbeing and diet.

Next week I’ll be introducing fitness tips from the experts to challenge me further!

So, just who are the experts and what have they said about me?

Aviva’s very own doctor, Doug Wright, who has worked at Aviva for 15 years from full time practice as a GP and Paddy Anson, Head of Strength and Conditioning at Gloucester Rugby who’s tasked with setting out the training and diet plans for the players.

What exactly should I be trying to do differently to stress less?

Here’s what Dr Doug said about my work-life balance:

“You’re already stress aware and you’ve taken the steps to manage your work-life balance. Although you can do more make this better. They say that a problem shared is problem halved and that’s the same with chores. Why not give your 6 year old some light chores around the house in exchange of a reward to allow you to focus on other priorities. You can print off our chore chart to help you get started.”

OK, not averse to this. She is only six and I strongly believe children aren’t children forever and should enjoy themselves. But perhaps a few more chores in a fun way could work.

Here’s what Dr Doug said about my well-being:

“If you’re feeling anxious then think of the here and now and try some deep muscle relaxation exercises. Tense and relax the major muscle groups for 20 seconds each. For example your shoulders, chest, back and legs. Once you have started tensing and relaxing at the top and finished at your calves then go back up and repeat. This helps to reduce tension.”

This sounds reasonable enough – in reality though, it’s that time thing. That sitting down and actually doing thing. We’ll see how I go.

And my diet tips from Paddy:

“Because you’re training for your race, your diet needs careful preparation. Generally eating little and often and getting your food in a 60/30/10 ratio of carbohydrates/protein/fat will hold you in good stead. As for snacks, gels are great during training, especially if it’s a long ride.”

Again, not unreasonable but I’m the kind of person needs a recipe card all set out for me telling me exactly what I should be eating today. Finding time to separate my menu unto the right portions may prove a little difficult.

Watch this space…..


“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”



33 Comments on Aviva stress less challenge

  1. haha love the pic , its soo funny x I have sufferd with anxiety for many years but the past year has become so much easier , possitive thinking and changing your routine , keeping busy and less stress is the obvious ones , good luck x

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