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Managing Stress and Anxiety: A Q and A With Toby Maguire

27/02/2014 11:32 GMT | Updated 28/04/2014 10:59 BST

Toby Maguire is the Stress Management trainer at The Body Holiday, St Lucia, where he has been working for 3 years. Before joining the renowned wellbeing resort he spent 12 years in Thailand where he set up his own hotel and spa training company whilst working as a stress management consultant, meditation instructor, life coach and holistic practitioner at health and wellness resorts.

Over the last 15 years, he has also trained as a hypnotherapist, nutritionist and studied an MA in Holistic Wellness.

1. Toby, so many people suffer from stress and anxiety these days - why is this and is there a 'quick fix' cure?

There are a multitude of reasons why stress has become so prevalent over the last 30 years but I think the main reason is modern technology. The internet and mobile phones have increased the length of the working day by more than 30% and made it almost impossible for many people to ever "escape" from the office. In addition, because of the continual bombardment of information that we are subjected to, most people have no idea who they are and what they want out of life. As a result they are easily manipulated into doing unfulfilling and often stressful work just to pay the bills at the end of every month.

The result is a large increase in stress and stress related illness, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia and physical burnout.

Unfortunately there is no single magic cure, but there are a number of ways in which we can deal with stress effectively. The first step is to recognise the symptoms of stress so we know that we need to make some changes in our lives. The second step is to understand the root cause of the stress, for it is only when we know exactly why we are stressed that we can formulate a plan on how to deal with it. The third step is to employ solutions which can come in many forms, such a relaxation techniques, meditation or creating clear goals in life. The important thing to realise is that stress is not something that we have to live with. Taking some time out, re-assessing and redefining our priorities will lead to a happier and more rewarding life.

2. What's the best way to manage stress? Does hypnotherapy and meditation work for everyone?

There are many reasons why people experience stress which is why there is no specific way in which to deal with it. Therefore, a number of different tools are necessary to deal with each individual case. Hypnotherapy is useful for a number of reasons as not only can it be used to calm the mind, but it can also be used to determine the cause of the stress or anxiety in the first place. When a person identifies the cause then they are half way to solving the problem. Meditation is also a powerful tool in dealing with stress as it allows an individual to detach themselves from their thoughts and emotions and see things in a much clearer perspective. It can also be used to increase confidence, improve personal relationships, improve concentration and creativity and increase one's self-discipline and determination to reach personal goals.

However, although meditation and hypnotherapy are very useful tools in combating stress, lifestyle choices and changes may also be necessary.

3. How much of an affect does diet have on our stress and anxiety levels?

Diet can both increase and decrease our stress and anxiety levels, so it is important to be aware of the foods we eat and their effects on the body.

Certain foods and beverages such as caffeine, sugar and alcohol produce the same hormonal response in the body as stress. Therefore, too much will exhaust the body's supply of hormones and weaken the immune system, leaving it wide open to infection and long term illness. It also lowers our energy levels which can lead to a lack of motivation and concentration.

In addition, most people tend to have an imbalance of omega 3's and 6's in their diet which means that the body struggles to recover from the effects of stress. Omega 3's are essential for efficient brain functioning and for supporting the nervous system, so adequate amounts are essential for the body to make a full recovery.

Therefore, simple changes in our diet not only boost the immune system, but also energize us, raise our moods and help us to think more clearly.

4. I've heard a lot of people talking about Mind Mapping recently. Could you enlighten us? Does it work?

Mind mapping is excellent to help people clearly examine their thoughts about issues they would like to address. It is not only a useful tool to generate ideas, but it can also allow us to understand any challenges we are experiencing and formulate ideas or solutions on how best to deal with them.

To construct a mind map, draw a circle in the centre of a blank page and write the word or sentence you wish to analyze inside of it. Then, draw lines branching out from the circle and at the end brainstorm any words, thoughts or solutions that come to mind. To analyze the thoughts with even more clarity, you may even draw lines out from these solutions with even more detail.

This exercise allows us to clearly analyze our thoughts rather than churning the same ideas over and over again in our minds. By writing them down, we can also detach ourselves from our emotions that may be hindering our decision making and brainstorm new and more logical ideas.

5. What's the secret to a happy life?

I believe the secret to a happy life is to discover what you love to do and then keep doing it! Sounds simple, but how many of us actually wake up in the morning looking forward to going to work? How many of us come home at night feeling fulfilled that we have made a positive change to the world is some way? Each and every one of us is truly unique. We have our own passions in life, own skills, own talents and to discover these talents and use them to our full potential brings more long term happiness and satisfaction than anything we could dream of.

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