With the new year comes a season of new resolutions. Hopes for a healthier, happier life. One thing is for sure: the unanimous wish for most of us is for less stress. Identifying the stressors that are hurting your health is the first step towards it. To help you beat the blues, we have put together an easy-to-follow list on stress management, from practicing yoga to practicing relaxation.
KILL ALL NOTIFICATIONS
When you’re on off-duty time, ensure you’re off duties. This means zero pings that distract you. Turn off every update, from email to social media and text. This takes daily breaks a notch above. Make sure to get away from it all for at least one hour, an entire evening or day. Your quality of work will dramatically increase, as will the quality of your relationships.
STREAMLINE YOUR SCHEDULE
A hectic schedule is a major cause of high stress. Prune the number of commitments and schedule only a few important things each day. And space them out. Leave only a few important things each day, and put space between them. Leave room for downtime and fun.
LEARN TO SAY NO
Busyness is an addiction, and in contrast, slowing down can seem daunting. One important way to pare down your schedule is to get good at saying no to new commitments. Whether you say “yes” instead of no out of guilt, inner conflict, or a misguided notion that you can “do it all,” learning to say no to more requests can be one of the biggest favors you can do yourself and those you love.
BUILD RELAXATION INTO YOUR ROUTINE
It’s imperative to take your body out of the fight or flight response each day. Indulge in an activity (or inactivity) that puts it in the rest and relaxation mode. Practice mindfulness, even if it is just for 15-20 minutes to help clear your mind, and set a specific time aside for it. These rejuvenating practices can be built around your daily activities, whether it means relishing your morning coffee without any multitasking, practicing gratitude, penning your problems before going to bed, taking a long bath or reading inspirational quotes intermittently throughout the day.
YOU’RE ALLOWED A MENTAL HEALTH DAY
If need be, taking a mental health day off from work can help you reset and recharge. Just like sick days, you must take time off when you’re stressed or sad. Call it a sick leave, and indulge in self-caring activities without checking mails and messages, or feeling guilty about it.
IF YOU CAN, GIVE BACK
Experts have been warning of “an epidemic of loneliness” in the United States, way before the coronavirus outbreak. A potential cure? Giving back to society. Research shows that volunteering and kindness towards others can improve our health, ease feelings of loneliness and broaden our social networks. Start by setting a small goal, like volunteering a couple of hours every month and building from there.
Sweat it out. Do something each day to be active—walk, hike, play a sport, go for a run, dance or practice yoga. It doesn’t have to be grueling to reduce stress. The idea should be to release endorphins. Just move and have fun doing it.
You must be aware of the concept of hacking computers, hacking smartphones and hacking email. But what about hacking your body? The concept is called biohacking, which means harnessing your environment for more energy, for self-improvement. The best part is there are numerous ways to incorporate methods of biohacking your body and mind into your daily routine. This can include working at a stand-up desk, eating healthy, spending time in nature, ensuring you have a regulated sleep regimen or a grounding mat.
Educate yourself about minimalism. Declutter your room as well as your mental space. Research suggests that physically cleaning up messy areas can lead to reduced levels of stress and anxiety. A clean space can make room for a clean environment for work and play. Engage in both physical and emotional spring cleaning to help you prioritize different aspects of life. Invite some peace and calm into your inner space by becoming aware of your emotions. Allow yourself to feel them, accept them and eventually free yourself from them.
It’s hard to be punctual, let alone early when you have personal and professional commitments. But being late means inviting stress. Try to leave earlier by getting ready earlier, leave some buffer time, and schedule more space between events.