There is something about the western lifestyle that seems to breed raised blood levels and wracked nerves. From the moment we get into secondary schools with exams and, potentially, all the way through our working adult lives, the word stress is constantly biting at our heels. My university offers mindfulness drop-ins for frazzled students as it becomes a commonplace issue. We have a mindset based around having it all and being the best, and I feel that sometimes we overload ourselves… I know that I can’t help but get myself involved in projects and responsibilities! Technology makes stress even worse as we feel as though we always need to be “on”. As a result, time becomes increasingly precious, leaving the one thing that we really need -relaxation -to fall to the wayside. Unwinding, is treated as something of a luxury, reserved for those with lots of time or regular access to spa-style treatments and expensive holidays. Luckily, there are plenty of things that you do that are pretty much free, and that aren’t time consuming either.
Listen to your body
Chances are, your job or lifestyle puts some form of stress on your body, be it a stiff back from sitting at a desk or dry hands from outdoor work. Give your body some love such as stretching or using that hand cream. If you feel comfortable in your skin, you will be much more settled, and won’t have a physical effect subtly reminding you of work and stress.
Switch it off
Now, I am absolutely the worst at this, but we really need to turn our gadgets off! A quick glance at emails at 9pm can turn in to an hour of mindless browsing. It can disturb sleep patterns, but, more importantly, is a constant provider of low level stress from social media as we compare ourselves and are reminded of upcoming events. If you need your phone or laptop for offline reasons on an evening, such as texting or writing, then turn the WiFi off so that you are at least minimising distractions. But ideally have a chunk of time either every day, or for a whole day once a week to completely detox from technology!
Nurture and nourish
In terms of the body, stress is a chemical, cortisol, that can make us physically unwell. It follows then, that you should want to keep your body as healthy as possible to avoid stress. Make sure that you are putting in lots of goodness in to your system. Eat a handful of berries for a boost of antioxidants teamed with yummy natural sugars to make you feel great. Speaking of being healthy…
Exercise is one of the best ways of beating the blues. Get your daily dose of endorphins in whichever way makes you feel good. Try running or swimming for escapism, HIIT or boxing for busting negative emotions, or weights for cool focus. And, of course, I’ll always recommend yoga for everything. If you are really worked under, don’t do too much intense exercise as it will likely make you feel worse. Aim to enjoy your workout, otherwise what is the point? Exercise needn’t cost a penny, so is one of the easiest things to do to relax your mind.
Breath in a scent
Of all our senses, smell is the most closely associated with memory so utilise this to find your happy place. A spray of a nostalgic or calming perfume will bring your heart rate right back down, and candles or fresh flowers lighten the atmosphere of a room. Go for light, clean or fresh smells for the most uplifting effect, or warming, sweet scents for when you need comfort.