Ask The Expert

How to overcome the stress of city living

Harley Street therapist Christopher Paul Jones shares his four top tips to help you cope with the stress of London living this summer.

Christopher Paul Jones

The daily commute, no seat on the train, traffic jams, cancellations, long queues for a latte, and tourists standing on the wrong side of the escalator. Living in London can be stressful!

So what can you do to reduce your stress levels and help you enjoy what London has to offer. Here are my four quick tips:

Tip 1 – Change Your Vision

As we rush from A to B we tend to go into goal focused mode. Our mind can fill with inner talk; “I am going to be late” which increases our stress levels. This single-minded focus is known as foveal vision. And it can be stressful.

Peripheral vision, on the other hand, is less stressful and can help relax us.

Here’s how you move from foveal vision to peripheral vision:

Look straight ahead and focus your attention on a fixed position in front of you, just above eye level. Hold your arms straight out in front of you, with your thumbs pointing upwards, and still focusing straight ahead, relax the muscles around your eyes, soften your gaze and become aware of your breathing.

Keeping your attention on your fixed position and without moving your head, slowly move your arms out to the side. As you do this, notice yourself starting to take in more of the room around you. Stop moving your arms when you can no longer see your thumbs from the corner of your eyes and let your arms slowly drop to your sides.

Keeping your eyes relaxed and still looking ahead, imagine your vision expanding and notice even more of the room around you. Begin to see more on your left, then on your right and notice how you are even beginning to see so far back on either side, that you can almost see behind your head.

Continue taking deep breaths, looking straight ahead and keep broadening your awareness. Keep going with this until you notice that the internal noise in your head starts to dissipate and then eventually disappears.

Tip 2 – Change Your Focus

Breathe deeply, start to notice the shape of all the objects at the edge of your vision. Become aware of four things you can see around you without moving your head. Remember to keep your eye muscles softened.

Now become aware of four things you can hear around you. Continue breathing deeply.

Now become aware of four things you can feel around you.

Repeat the process, this time focussing on three things you see, hear, feel around you. Then repeat for two things, then one thing.

Notice how you feel differently.

Tip 3 – Change Your Physiology

Emotions affect your body and your body affects your emotions. So, stand tall, pull your shoulders back, hold your head up and put a huge smile on your face. If you maintain this whilst trying to think of something that is making you anxious, you’ll find it nearly impossible to feel bad.

Tip 4 – Change Your Breathing

Finally, changing in your breathing will change your stress level.

Place one hand on your chest (this hand should remain still) and breathe in slowly through your nose for four seconds, so that your stomach moves out (place your other hand against your belly to check this). Hold this breath for a 8 seconds and then breathe out for 12 seconds as your stomach moves in. Keep repeating this method for a few mins you will find that become relaxed, and much more centred.

So, the next time the stress of London is getting you down remember, changing how you feel is easier than you think.

About Christopher Paul Jones

Christopher Paul Jones, aka The Breakthrough Expert, is a therapist based in Harley Street who specialises in helping people let go of their fears, anxieties and even their phobias; from a fear of public speaking to anxieties around work, Christopher has helped 100s of people ‘let go’ and get their lives back. He even cured his own morbid fear flying, to the extent he was able to take a sightseeing flight through the Pyrennees – strapped to the outside of a helicopter! For more on his work, go to christopherpauljones.net and follow him on Twitter ‎@breakthruexpert

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