Ever dreamed of what it’s like to live a stress-free life? Me too. Whether you are stressing over work, life problems, or even just that one niggling thought that won’t go away – it is natural. For Stress Awareness Month, I have asked the beans for some of their top tips for destressing after a hard day’s work!
The top tip from the beans was making sure you keep a regular routine. This includes going to bed and waking at the same time every day, which helps to regulate your sleep and body, and reduces stress. Workload and bulging inboxes can cause stress. Allow 30 minutes each morning and afternoon to complete any tasks that are 5 minutes each or less (quick responses, calendar updates, chase ups etc) – clearing the inbox a little. Then choose a large task/one you are procrastinating over, and jump straight in. And ensure you are taking regular breaks during work – you cannot work to your full potential without a clear head. Apps such as Calm, Headspace, Sleep can also help to reduce anxiety and provide opportunity for mindfulness – helping you to keep a good routine.
Ensure you keep up with any hobbies you have. Many of our beans love to read (some recommendations in our blog here), listen to music you love – even if it just for half an hour before bed – take this time to let your mind relax. Pick up a new hobby – it is never too late; I have recently been learning piano and it is a great way to refocus your brain onto something else and has been proven to decrease fatigue, anxiety, and stress. As foodies, many of us love to cook and not only does the act of cooking help relieve stress, but ensuring you are eating healthy and cooking high-protein foods can boost your natural serotonin to help regulate anxiety. Research has shown that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress and low moods.
Another top tip from the beans was taking time to exercise. It is proven to reduce levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. This doesn’t have to be gruelling and draining – if you find a form of exercise you enjoy, it can help to de-clutter your brain and allow you to refocus. Running is also an excellent way to get out amongst nature and to expend some (nervous) energy on something productive. If running isn’t your thing, try taking a walk outside at lunchtime – even if you’re feeling like you don’t have time, take 10 minutes to get fresh air, it will make all the difference. Whether you are taking a walk by yourself, with a dog or even with a friend – taking a moment to appreciate the natural world around you can do wonders. During those stressful and busy times, exercise might feel like the last thing you want to do but being disciplined to get your exercise in and especially playing a team sport where you have teammates around you is massively beneficial for both physical and mental wellbeing.
Come away from the screens
One tip that will always pop up is coming away from your screens. If you turn off the TV and put down the mobile phones for an hour or so before bed, it has proven to have a world of positive effects on your brain as these often contribute to poor sleep! As well as this, turning off WhatsApp blue ticks and free yourself from read receipts can be lifechanging. Also, ensuring that you separate yourself from work and home – a fine line since working from home has taken over. If you don’t have a work phone, ensure that you turn off notifications for any work-related apps outside of work hours.
Talk to someone
We are social animals – ensuring that you talk to others around you can help you to lift your mood, distract you onto other topics and help to realise the extent of a problem. A problem shared is a problem halved, be honest with yourself about stress i.e. is it just a bit of a tough day and you feel under pressure or is your health genuinely suffering over time due to consistent excessive demands, no-one can help if they don’t know. Check in on friends and family – just a WhatsApp message, quick call, or random visit. If you are stressed, overwhelmed, or feeling anxious, talk to your colleague, friend, parent, or sibling. They will want you to share and want to help. And most importantly, only worry about the things you can influence or do something about.
Looking after yourself is one of the top ways you can ensure you are reducing stress levels. Ensure that you are getting enough vitamins and fresh air. Try to avoid bad habits like overconsumption of alcohol and reduce caffeine intake, if possible, to avoid over stimulation of the mind. Take time to relax with a bath and open a nice bottle of wine (everything in moderation). Also take time out to spend time with family or your partner, as well as some alone time. Sometimes activities as simple as a cuddle can release oxytocin which helps to calm you and helps you to deal better with stress.
Forest bathing is an ancient Japanese process of relaxation. It is simply spending time amongst nature, whilst focusing on breathing deeply. This can help to boost health and wellbeing in a natural way whilst allowing you to destress. Be observant and take in your surroundings and use your senses – what can you smell, what can you hear? Studies have shown that colours of nature such as greens and blues help people to relax and are the most soothing. It is recommended to spend two hours for a full forest bathing experience.
It is crucial to note that stress is an important feeling for us – allowing us to feel adrenaline and release hormones such as cortisol. This can help us to feel more motivated and be proactive, however, as it can have a powerful impact on aspects of your life, it is important to keep control of your stress levels. So, it may not be possible to actually live a stress-free life, but hopefully these top tips can help you to destress.
Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to raise awareness of the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.
If you have any other top tips that you would like to share, make sure to tag us on socials @jellybeanagency.