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Cheaper than therapy

Fruit, Fitness and Finding time for Friends…The Aviva Stress Less Test #3

on June 1, 2014

Evening All!

So, you know I’ve been doing this whole Aviva Stress Less challenge for the last few weeks? First off I had the whole questionnaire thing, then I had my first week of tips which you can read about here and now, here we are at the end of my second week…so, what do I have to report…am I less stressed? Am I functioning better as a regular human being thanks to Dr Doug and co?

Aviva Stress less Mumsnet Blogger Network

Know what peeps, I actually think I might be- duh duh duh. Infact, scratch that. I am. Today has been what Louis Reed might describe as a perfect day aside from the poo on the landing and the lack of sangria but, you get the gist. It has been good and largely stress free! So, what pearls of wisdom Aviva’s masterminds shared with me this week;

The tips have been divided into 4 sections this time round, they have added exercise into the mix;

  • Work-life Balance with Dr Doug
  • Well-being, also with Dr Doug
  • Fitness from Mike, Billy and Jonny (clearly they feel I need a team!) and
  • Diet with Paddy.

The idea is that I try all of the tips and then chose one or more that I think I could commit to in order to help reduce my stress levels in the longer term…here’s hoping…


Work-life balance from Dr Doug

“Building upon creating lists from last week try adding even the smallest tasks to your list to help you get a sense of accomplishment and gain the momentum to tackle the bigger tasks. If you’ve got a big task ahead, break them down into smaller pieces so you can see exactly what needs to get done — even if you can’t tackle them yet. As a reminder don’t feel guilty about not getting them all done”.

Well-being from Dr Doug

“It’s easy to punish yourself about all the things you’ve forgotten and what you need to do next. But take stock and think of the achievements you’ve made in the last year or even the last 3 months if you can’t remember. By recognizing this success helps to remove negative perceptions you might have of yourself”.

Fitness from Mike, Billy and Jonny

“Kill 2 birds with one stone and take a break from work during the day and enjoy your natural surroundings. Walking is great as you don’t get too hot and sweaty so can just go straight back into work. But as you enjoy running a quick 20 mins will help blow a few of those cobwebs out and can help you get a different perspective on your next job. There is no better way than exercising in the fresh air”.

“You like running and yoga which are great forms of exercise but why not try a new exercise to spice up your routine or add some new exercises in between. For example when you’re running are there any steps you can run up and down for a minute or a park bench where you can  stop to do some triceps dips. You may feel a bit self-conscious doing it the first time however I’m sure you might start something when other runners see you!”.

Diet from Paddy

“To get extra portions of fruit and vegetables in your diet aim to have a bit of veg along with your lunch and dinner. That’s veg taken care of. With fruit you could potentially pack in a good 3-4 servings in a smoothie alone! Frozen fruit is just as good and you can even put the smoothies in ice cube trays as an alternative to ice-cream”.



Tip 1- Work Life Balance: Right- back on the whole list thing again, writing down even the smallest of tasks and breaking down big tasks into smaller and more manageable tasks. Yep, I have taken this one to a whole new level. Last week I got my new pukka pad with built-in dividers and this week I have been striking through bits on my to do list at a rate of knots.

Admittedly there was the small incident of the dry cleaning left in the car which led to a stony silence which led to me knocking on the door of a closed shop until they opened last Sunday morning but there have also been the high points of evenings when I have happily awaited my husbands arrival home because I actually completed a task he asked me to do #WINNING!!

Aviva Stress Less test, Mumsnet

This isn’t my list- my pad is WAYYYY better!

To be honest, 2 of my previous bosses have given me this same advice before and, when sticking with it, it really does make me feel more positive. I think that one of the best things is making a list for the next day at work because it goes some way at least to stopping my mind from taping me on the shoulder in the middle of the night, know what I mean? Plus, I’m still loving the whole feel of the new stationary. Still using my best writing! #GEEK….excessive use of the hashtag you think?

Anyway, thanks to the whole list thing, this week alone I have accomplished the following:

  • Dry Cleaning (by default)
  • Passport Applications (partial but progress)
  • Scheduled some blog posts (major for me!)
  • Defrosting stuff so we don’t starve
  • Exercise

VERDICT: Lists definitely make me feel more calm, ordered and in control. Getting things out of my head and down on paper is something that has always been helpful for me so I think this really needs to be the change I make permanent. I haven’t quite translated it to the weekly shopping list yet but that would potentially catapult me into superwoman territory and frankly, could put my whole blog in jeopardy- what would I talk about if all aspects of my life were super smooth.  

As an aside, it has been really helpful that Mr L and I have planned our activities and stuff around each other. We actually sat down and decided how to fit in the stuff that each of us wanted or needed to do over the week so, quite apart from beautifully written lists, it turns out that communication is also helpful. Top tip people! Who knew!

AND- in other breaking news- if you are organising or arranging things with others, there is an App called Wunderlist which allows everyone involved to view the list, leave comments etc and tick things off when complete. For things like group holidays or events being arranged by more than one this is amazing. Give it a whirl.


Tip 2- Wellbeing: Now, far be it for me to talk down to a doctor but please, Doctor Doug- I am taking part in this stress less exercise to reduce my stress levels so…stop giving me unnecessary tasks to add to the bloody list!! This is a nice task though- take stock of the things you’ve already achieved in the last year or so. Well, if in doubt I can always look in on the faces of my babies and think that I got them pretty damn perfect but obviously I was only half the story there so, frankly, whatever else I could put in the list won’t top that and, since I’m busy and all-I sort of binned this off. Soz Doc.

Kate Jade Photography, Mumsnet

Achievement wise I reckon this pair are going to be pretty hard to beat!

To be honest, when looking back on achievements over the last year or so, there isn’t much that I am hand on heart really proud of. Don’t get out the worlds smallest violin or anything- I just don’t really feel that I’ve accomplished very much, very well recently so, the only thing I can do about this is to take on board one of the generic tips on the Aviva page and say no to stuff- do less in the hope that I will do more stuff well and hence might be happier with the results…

Update…Since drafting this post I have started recording my exercise achievements (on the recommendation of Mr L) and actually, it is surprising how good it makes you feel. When you’re feeling like you’ve got so much to do or so far to go, to see how far you’ve come is actually quite a boost so, I take it back Dr Doug. This does have some merit. Not if you spend so much time thinking back though you run out of time for all the stuff on your now lists. That is counter productive. I mustn’t be sucked in to listing when I was form captain or milk monitor (totally ruled at both btw!)

VERDICT: Nice idea and one I might mull over with the help of Mr L or my sis both of whom are tops at reminding me of anything I have achieved. Best over a bottle of something I reckon. Will add to the ‘to do…’


Tip 3-Fitness: OK, see above! I am pleased to say I am making strides in this area. Not necessarily in the way the guys at Aviva suggested, when I am working I barely head down the stairs to put on the washing, let alone venture out of the house for a run but, I am certainly getting my allotted exercise in the fresh air and upping my dopamine levels- this week I’ve clocked up 3 actual runs and a yoga session. To say I am chuffed with myself is an understatement so that is progress (refer to sob story above!) I phoned my mother to tell her for pity’s sake- what a saddo! runners legs

I do think that I should try to break up my day a little better so a walk at lunchtime is a possible but I think I prefer an end of the day blow out than having to go back to the desk afterwards…we will see.

VERDICT: Am proud of the fact that I am diarising (yep, just used that word) exercise and planning it into my week. I always feel better afterwards. Definite keeper.



TIP 4- Diet:

To get extra potions of fruit and veg in your diet aim to have a bit of veg along with your lunch and dinner…

Come on Paddy, that’s obvious. That is common sense. That is not advice tailored to the girl who grabs a round of toast and honey with a cup of tea at 8:30 and then might trough some yogurt covered raisins when she sets off for the nursery run. I do not have a lunch to add veg to. Smoothies on the other hand are something I can work with. Smoothies that are freshly made for me and frozen are better still, as long as I remember to write ‘get smoothies out of freezer’ on my to do list. Seriously. That, I can work with. I know this doesn’t paint me in the best light but food wise I am lazy. Lazy in the extreme. It is one of my husbands most serious disappointments. I do know how important it is to eat well and I am fastidious about it for the children but totally switch off for myself so, for the moment, it’s juices for me. I love them, they work and hopefully, from there, I will work my way up to a healthier and more balanced approach… Perhaps, once we’ve finished the beers in the fridge…


VERDICT: Not something I am bothered enough to change I’m afraid. I eat fruit because it is the ultimate fast food. You literally have to do nothing to it. Veg needs to be chopped and cooked and that means dishes- not for me if it can be helped. 

So, that’s me kids, I have worked my way through my personalised Aviva Stress Less tips. Honestly, at times, knowing I had these blogs to write might have added to my stress levels but, in the main, I actually genuinely, feel that the lists and the exercise have made a big difference to the way I feel I am juggling my balls day-to-day. I would absolutely advocate making time to exercise even if it feels like you’ve more important things to prioritise.

Oh, another thing that has upped my happy quota is putting some of your advice into practice…I’ve only gone and got us a cleaner. BEST. THING. EVER. I mean I love my kids but, seeing my home on a Friday post cleaners seriously makes me happy!! That is a major stress reducer, (thanks for the tip Hannah!) It lets me enjoy time with Mr L and the girls without worrying about the state of the house. Tips on how to stop cleaning before the cleaners come would be most welcome!

Ooops, sorry; one last thing, some of the generic Aviva tips I also thought were pretty helpful. Often when we think we have too much to do we get rid of the stuff that gives us pleasure. That my loves is the motorway to misery so, even when you’re busy try to make a bit of time for the following:

  • Make time for yourself and relax – this allows you to recharge your batteries and increases levels of dopamine.
  • Spend time with people who enhance your life – people who are interesting, make you happy, make you laugh.
  • Have a laugh – they say that laughter is the best medicine. A dose of laughter can lower levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol and increase your endorphin levels – those natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals that are in the body.

Point to note- some of the other ‘tips’ will feel pretty obvious and/or patronising but, one mans meat is another mans poison so have a look and see if any of them work for you. Right then dudes- I am off to yoga with Syed- all together now…Ommmmm…




PS- 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; you know me, all my opinions are my own. Always!

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