Stress Virtual First Aid Kit – Guest Post by Paola Bassanese

We’re delighted to have Paola Bassanese, award-winning massage therapist and contributor to the Huffington Post on The Beauty Shortlist this week.  It’s been an insanely busy one for us as we’ve started the judging for the Beauty Shortlist Awards 2012 so Paola’s stress solutions are “perfect timing” . Her virtual First Aid Tool Kit will help bring you back into balance and provide calm during a stress storm (not just before it!)

Virtual ‘First Aid Kit’

As someone who has tried different stress management techniques and whose work/life balance and boundaries are at times blurred and overlapping, being able to manage stress and avoid panicking is a lifesaver and a vital business tool to ensure I can still be productive during difficult times.

As a massage therapist I talk to clients suffering from anxiety and stress on a regular basis and most agree that the recession has been hitting them in their personal and professional life.

Some have lost their jobs (so I haven’t seen them in a while as they were looking for another position) and some have seen a huge increase in their workload for the same pay.

Being able to manage stress therefore has become an essential life skill but sometimes we don’t have access to experts and specialists when we need them the most mainly because of time and budget constraints.

I have tried all the usual suspects: yoga, meditation, massage, coaching. They all work. And they work extremely well. Modern life though is so hectic that even scheduling a stress-relieving activity makes you feel stressed as it is perceived as yet another item on your to do list.

This is why it’s better to build your own virtual toolkit for stress management which you can access at any time.

Here are my top tips: 

Child pose. On those countless nights I lie awake in bed worrying about the future, the child pose comes to the rescue. It calms the nervous system down and seems to put all worries to bed at the same time. Kneel down and rest your forehead on the floor (or the bed). Stretch your arms back alongside your body and flop.

Send positive thoughts. In meditation (but also in cognitive behavioural therapy) changing your thought processes can give you a sense of peace. Choose 5 people you want to send positive thoughts to: a loved one, a neutral person, someone you don’t get on with, a benefactor and yourself (most people say that sending positive thoughts to one self is the most difficult exercise). You can choose whatever phrase you like, the important thing is that you are wishing someone well. The concentration required will first of all move your thinking away from negative and obsessive patterns and secondly it will slowly bring a smile to your face.

Change your viewpoint. In cognitive behavioural therapy, the suggestion is to expand your viewpoint when you start obsessing about your problems. Include your surroundings, look up, take in the environment; if you can, imagine the entire planet and our solar system if you really want to stretch your imagination and see your problems in a different perspective.

Stress Management Exercise from Stress Relief Expert, Annie Lawler of Breathing Space.   Learn to breathe.  The breath is a great stress relief tool and it’s free! Most of us breathe very shallowly which means oxygen and essential nutrients are not being circulated effectively to the brain and our body’s organs.   Naturally, this affects your performance and increases stress on your body.   So, every hour and whenever you feel the need to take a few moments pause, close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths, expanding the abdomen as you breathe in and pulling it in as you breathe out.   Inhale for 4 counts, hold the breath for 7 counts and exhale, letting everything go for 8.   Try it every day for a week and notice what happens.   If you can do this away from your desk and in the fresh air (it only takes a moment or two to step outside the door), so much the better.

Paola Bassanese is an award-winning massage therapist in Central London specialising in natural facelift, manual lymphatic drainage and deep tissue massage. She regularly writes on health and wellbeing and is a contributor for the Huffington Post. Find out more at

Annie Lawler is the Soul2Soul Coach, inspiring busy people to overcome challenges with relationships, careers, health, anxiety & self-esteem, so you can love yourself and love your life, no matter, what’s going on around you.  Visit

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