While exercise may not make your stress disappear, getting active will help to reduce some of the emotional intensity you’re feeling – providing a welcome distraction that will help to clear your mind so that, later, you can come back to your problems more calmly and with a fresh perspective.
How? Pretty much any form of exercise can help to reduce your stress levels, so the most important thing is to pick one you enjoy and that you’ll stick with. While boxing’s great for getting aggression out, for example, golf is a cert for calming the mind; repetitive motion, such as jogging, activates the more mediative, solution-focused parts of the brain, and team sports like netball are perfect for boosting your social interaction.
Speaking of social interaction, they aren’t lying when they say a problem shared is a problem halved. A good support network can massively ease feelings of anxiousness. So whether it’s voicing your frustrations to a listening ear, or forgetting the day’s concerns and having a good laugh, you really will get by with a little help from your friends.
How? We know that it probably seems harder than ever to fit in proper socialising time around work, family, and all the other day-to-day commitments that seem to creep up on us, but more effective organisation will hopefully help you find space in your diary for some much-needed downtime. And, of course, things like staying active don’t necessarily need to be a solo pursuit, so you can kill two birds with one stone.
Take the Reins
Remember that for every problem, there is a solution. The feeling that you have lost control has been proven to be one of the leading causes of stress, so empowering yourself enough to take some form of positive action will immediately help you to relax.
How? To-do lists are a great way of systemising the thoughts running round and round your head, but if you don’t get through them fast enough, can become a source of worry themselves; also make a list of what you’ve already achieved, so you can get those things out of the worry loop. The main thing is to concentrate on one achievable thing at a time to stave off those feelings of being overwhelmed.
Keep Habits Healthy
As easy as it is, try not to rely on alcohol, caffeine or smoking to relieve your tension. It may feel good when those sedating properties first make their way to your brain, but all these habits are doing is distracting you from the real issue at hand by effectively putting your head in the sand. And withdrawal can often double feelings of depression and anxiety. So it’s really like you’re just going in one big stressful circle.
How? We’re not saying become tee-total or decaf-only. But be mindful of your consumption and remember to tackle the cause of your stress head-on when your mind is clear, so that you can enjoy your treats responsibly.
Be Ready for a Challenge
We know it’s called a comfort zone, but let’s all agree that when we’re too comfortable we start slouching, spilling, and generally slipping our standards. Setting yourself new goals, however big or small and in whatever setting, really helps to build your confidence and become more emotionally resilient which, in turn, will help you to stay calm and collected in stressful situations.
How? Pick a new hobby and see how it goes: whether that be learning a new language or trying a different sport, volunteering at your local charity or cooking up a storm with a new recipe in the kitchen. It will arm you with the knowledge that you are capable of more, and the enthusiasm to get out there and be proactive.
Easier said than done, we know, but hear us out. Even when we don’t feel like it, concentrating on the positives in our lives can really boost our mood and help us to put things into perspective – so when it takes those few extra minutes for the barista to bring your morning coffee, for example, it won’t leave us so frustrated. After all, if the glass is half full, there’s plenty left to drink.
How? Try writing down just three things that went well, or for which you’re grateful, at the end of every day for a week, we dare you. You’ll already feel the difference.
Okay, so we know we’ve just lauded the benefits of hanging out with pals, but that doesn’t mean we think you should neglect spending some quality time alone too. Never underestimate the difference it can make when we put aside time to read our books, take our baths, go for our long walks and take our mental breaks from it all.
How? Time is precious, but every little really does help. Taking your book to read during your lunch break, packing a sweet treat in your work bag, booking in a massage for the weekend or squeezing in that early-morning workout all helps to remind you of how much you value your own happiness.
Never mind the nay-sayers, there’s a lot to be said for alternative therapies. Gemstones are rocking the world of holistic healing more and more, and perhaps the biggest wellbeing trend of the last 12 months has been the incorporation of CBD oil into our everyday lifestyle products. And maybe it is the placebo effect, but so what? As long as they’re helping you to relax healthily, we can’t see the harm.
How? Educate yourself. There’s plenty of alternative therapies out there, but there can also be hawkers jumping on the bandwagon, so take a little time to research exactly what you want and where’s best to get it. If crystals have piqued your interest, for example, make sure you know the potential properties of each gemstone – rose quartz is said to aid relationships and self-love, while hematite is believed to boost positivity and logical thinking, and smoky quartz is used to treat depression, anxiety and jealousy.