. 5 TIPS TO HELP YOU DEAL WITH STRESS .
If you’re anything like me, and take on too much, are a real perfectionist and always striving to do your best, and then more of it, then no doubt (like me) you also suffer with stress. Whether that’s just an instant short lived feeling of stress as a result of a high pressure situation, or longer term stress from an unhealthy work life balance, resulting in migraines, IBS and general unhealthy wellbeing (tick, tick, tick). Stress in my opinion, is something we should all avoid in our lives, it’s often hard given the pressures we have upon us from all areas of our lives (work, friends, commitments etc) but is something that can be managed, eased and aided with just a little bit of love and attention! There are different triggers of stress for everyone and different levels of stress can dictate the best way to deal with it. It’s often something that isn’t easy to ‘kick’ when you’re in the midst of a stressful episode, it’s often hard to see the wood through the trees, but I have a few easy ways to try and help you de-stress during these times, but also in the longer term can help create a better work life balance if practiced daily and therefore help you deal with stressful situations in a far better manner, to avoid stress in the first place. If you’re in a positive mind frame, then it’s proven to help you deal with difficult situations more easily.
I’ve already written a few posts on wellbeing which are worth a read, you can find them here and here. But given the success of my blog tips series, I decided to expand this in 2015 into career tips too (given both blog and career are really important things for me). It’s taken me a little while to get this up and running, January has been rather mental. Given my career is high pressure, demanding & often stressful, over the last 5 years i’ve had to find ways to help ease my stress, manage my emotions, and generally help create a more healthy outlook and balance to help me cope with the demands the combination of work, life & blog create. So I thought to kick off my career series, i’d start with 5 tips on how to deal with stress.
. TAKE A MOMENT OUT .
The easiest, and probably most obvious way of easing stress, particularly if you are in an a stressful moment is to simply take a moment out. This is extremely hard if your stress is due to work pressures or deadlines, like I said it’s hard to see the wood through the trees, but there’s no point or use in forcing yourself to keep going when your body is struggling with the pressure. Whether it’s taking a moment to grab a cup of tea (builders if you need comfort, Camomile if you need relaxing, Green Tea if you need energising & a kick start), taking a short walk at lunch time to get some air and clear your mind, or even trying to squeeze in a routine break like a lunch time yoga class. You may feel you don’t have time, but actually getting yourself mentally into a better place will only mean your more productive with the work you’re doing.
Another thing you can do, by taking a moment out, is to just take yourself away from the stressful situation and spend 20 minutes just clearing your head & jotting down in a note pad all the things on your mind, the key things causing pressure or the issues which are making you anxious. I do this an awful lot, lists are the best way of getting all the crap out of your head, and then into a list where you can shuffle things around and give yourself a clear plan of action of what needs tackling first. Taking a moment out to look at the bigger picture, create a little to do list, can really help make a whole load of ‘things’ feel more manageable.
. HIT THE GYM .
This tip is something I only wish I would listen to myself, as I know from experience how much it can help. Doing exercise, whether that be a 20 minute jog, a 45 minute yoga class or a serious hardcore gym session helps unbelievably with stress, not only helping clear your mind, but also helping destress and relax muscles, boosting your health, mental health & immune system, and of course giving you that ‘good feeling’ that going to the gym gives you. Before I moved companies a couple of years ago, I played netball every Monday, did tempo pilates on a Tuesday, and tried to tie in a couple of other classes (usually cardio based) later in the week. I managed to find an amazing gym close to my office which I could nip to at lunch time, so that really my exercise didn’t eat into my time (I don’t like spending an entire evening exercising, as this is a core time for me to relax & blog too). Going to the gym a couple of times a week made an absolute world of difference to my stress levels, my health & my positivity.
It’s not an easy thing to squeeze in if you have an exceedingly demanding schedule, but actually it’s something that in the long run will just reap tons of rewards and make stress a non-issue. I’ve recently joined Shoreditch house and will be hitting up their pilates & flywheel classes at lunch times to kick start my day & clear any stress out of my body.
. ME TIME .
It’s very easy when you get home from work (especially if like me this can be 8:30pm) to then cook your dinner and then allow yourself time to actually unwind, relax and de-stress after a hard days work (Particularly as this is also when I need to write my blog too). But it’s one of the most important times to try and give yourself some time, to shut off work, spend some time doing the things that make you happy & generally giving yourself a little TLC. I talked about ‘me time’ a little bit in this post here all about work life balance & it’s something that is crucial for wellness (you can read my post on Wellness here too), but my biggest tip is to schedule this time in. Just like you would a meeting at work, a couple of evenings a week, schedule an evening in, where you can cook yourself a lovely healthy meal from scratch, take a long and relaxing bath, snuggle up on the sofa with a book, and while away the evening escaping into another land (ideally some kind of chic lit to actually help you chill out). This for me is something I don’t do often enough, but when I do, I instantly go to bed feeling like a weight is off my shoulders. My favourite routine would be bath (nice bath bomb and good hair wash), pyjamas (heated on a radiator first), hot water bottle & cup of tea, and then the evening spent snuggled on the sofa with a book & the fire on. Even if it’s just 2 hours, that ‘me time’ will give you the chance to recoup, relax & get your head back in the zone!
Another very easy way of taking some ‘me time’ especially if you live in a city where you commute to work by train or bus etc, is to use that journey to do something that you enjoy – read a book, listen to your favourite album, even meditate. 40 minutes of travel each way, each day, is quite a lot of time to play with!
. SEE PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU HAPPY .
Just like the gym and me time, often when we’re stressed or busy we can forget to take time to ourselves to see our loved ones, have an evening with friends, or generally just spend time having fun and not worrying, working and stressing. If you think about the things that make you most happy, I’ve no doubt that your friends, family, boyfriend etc play a big part in all your favourite memories & happy times. So it’s only obvious that when you’re needing a little break or suffering through a stressful period, that seeing your friends will help lift your mood, take your mind off work & generally leave you with a smile on yourself. It’s so easy to not have time to see loved ones, but make time, it’s important. Whether that be a quick coffee at lunch time, dinner after work, a weekend back home with your family or friends, or even a simple phone call when you just need a little reassurance or support. My mum and sisters are always on the end of the phone, knowing when work is bringing me down, and wearing me out, always sending me little messages of reassurance, support, telling me how well i’m doing. These little touches can instantly ease my stress, bring me back down & make things feel a lot more manageable.
Plus of course there’s nothing like going home to your family for a weekend if you really want some time out of the big smoke to unwind! It’s like a little sanctuary for me!
. HOLIDAY .
This is my number one trick for stress fighting. Holidays. Yes they cost money, yes they require time, and yes they take organisation, but by god don’t they combat stress. Back in the day I would average about 8 holidays a year, ranging from my annual ski trip, to multiple city breaks and of course a few summer escapes, I still try and do as many as I can but probably average around 6 these days. Holidays are not only a great way to actually get away from work & life demands, but also the perfect opportunity to spend a week or two taking care of yourself, with people you love & having FUN! Money can of course be a big factor in restricting people from taking holiday’s but when money is tight, staycations, camping, a little eurostar escape & an AirBNB stay can be really great ways of ensuring you get some time out, but without breaking the bank. Even taking a week off work, and staying home spending time just relaxing, taking walks, seeing friends, visiting the cinema etc. It doesn’t always have to be fancy vacations, just dedicated time off is what you need. The other great thing about holidays are that they give you something to look forward to, something to focus on and work towards! Without being too dramatic, HOPE. And those positive thoughts are another very simple little way of combating stress and negativity!
So there you have it, my 5 tips for helping to combat stress, some being simple things you can easily do right now (take a coffee break, write a to do list, phone your mum), others are bigger things which require more of a shift in lifestyle (sign up to a yoga class, plan an evening in, book a holiday). But regardless of which ones you are able to do, even the smallest of things can help to make a significant impact on your stress levels.
Start today by taking a walk to get your lunch, and inviting along a friend of colleague … small steps, but it’ll make all the difference!