We all get a little stressed every now and then. A little stress is perfectly normal but if you find yourself getting stressed quite frequently, then you need to consider the impact this can have on your health. Excessive stress can cause numerous problems for your physical and mental health. For those of you familiar with my blog, you might know that I have issues with anxiety myself. I’ve made a concerted effort over the last year to try and manage my stress more effectively so I thought I would share my tips and tricks with you all.
1. Be Mindful
Mindfulness is the process of learning to live in the now instead of fixating on the past or the future. It involves focusing deeply on your actions and surroundings in the present moment. We often worry about things we cannot change and things that are beyond our control. Practicing mindfulness has really helped me, despite the fact that I was initially a little sceptical about something so seemingly simplistic. Even taking five minutes out of your day to disengage your mind from negativity and pressure and instead focusing it on a simple breathing exercise can make a big difference to your life. Why not start by simply downloading an app, like this one, which will guide you through a medication? Enjoy!
I know, I know. Some days I would prefer to eat pineapple (I REALLY HATE PINEAPPLE) than exercise. There is, however, a veritable mountain of evidence pointing to the link between exercise and a reduction in stress. This doesn’t mean you have to massively exert yourself (unless that’s your thing!) but even a little light exercise can really lift your mood as well as expelling tension from your body. Personally, a enjoy a little jive around the kitchen while I’m cooking and a stroll with my dogs. Find what works for you!
Being an adult is hard; there are so many pressures and responsibilities that seem to pile up all around us day in, day out. That’s why it’s so important to try and recall the exuberant and carefree nature of childhood from time to time. When I was a child, my only worries were whether I had fed my tamagotchi properly or which Backstreet Boy I would inevitably marry. My happiest memories revolve around playing and having fun with my friends. As we mature, we seem to lose so much of that childhood sense of playfulness. Every so often, I take time out of my day to just be a little silly. I have great friends who indulge in this with me, be it through games or just clowning around. Don’t be ashamed to embrace your inner child; they need to be let out to play once in a while!
4. Find your relaxation
Everyone unwinds differently. We all have something that we find relaxing: be it listening to Norah Jones or death metal music. You just have to find what works for you! I love listening to playlists that I can compile on Spotify to help me chill out. I colour, I blog, I run a bath, I light candles, I watch trash TV, I play with my pets or I sit under the tree in my garden. You will have your own thing and if it helps you to unwind, go for it!
5. Love your space
Many of us will occupy the same spaces day after day, be it in the home or at work. It’s important that we feel comfortable in these spaces. I personally get a little stressed by clutter or mess so I try to ensure that my surroundings at home and at work are clutter-free. I like clean, organised and open spaces. I also love soft-lighting and candles, so I use them where I can to lighten my mood (although adorning your work desk with fairy lights and candles might look a little odd). Add some peace and calm to the spaces you use most frequently by adorning them with whatever makes you happy: pictures, plants, quirky ornaments, there are endless possibilities! Keeping them neat and tidy will also help you to feel organised so that’s a bonus!
6. Plan and organise
I often find myself getting stressed by things I haven’t yet done. A lot of my insomnia in the past has sprung from a feeling of disorganisation. As a result, if I have a big stack of essays to correct, I will jot down a quick marking scheme or I might give myself a target of ten to do in two hours. Big jobs can be compartmentalised and planning is the easiest way to do it. I keep a little notepad on my coffee table at all times, where I jot down my short lists or plans for the day. I don’t put pressure on myself to actually abide by or achieve them (see next point!) but it is nice to have a little outline to guide me through those bigger tasks. Also, conceiving these is a little mini-task in its own right so you’ll feel like you’ve achieved something before you’ve even started, yay!
7. Don’t pressure yourself
Personally, I think this is the most important point of all. So much of our stress comes from a fear of disappointing not only other people, but also ourselves. Although I try to be organised and I like a good plan as much as the next person, I try not to get stressed when things don’t go according to plan. I ask myself “what’s the worst thing that could happen?” Most of the time, this little question puts my concerns into context. We can all be far too hard on ourselves. You won’t always finish your task by the end of the workday, you won’t always look polished and perfect, you won’t always get to the gym, you won’t always make everyone else happy. You WILL make mistakes. This is as inevitable as a Kardashian divorce. You can keep the bar raised high if that’s what motivates you, but don’t beat yourself up when you don’t pole-vault over it!
Have you any stress-busting tips you would like to share? Comment below!