To mark this year’s Stress Awareness Month, we collated and provided 30 days of helpful tips and advice, to help reduce your stress at work and home. If you didn’t manage to catch them on our social channels, here’s an overview:
1. Identify Your Stress – Do you know what’s causing you stress, as understanding what it is will give you much better control it? You might be able to reduce the impact of the stressor by proactively preparing for it, when you know you’re likely to encounter it.
2. Deep Breathing – Sometimes, the best methods of short-term relief are the most simple! If you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to practice deep breathing. Breathe in slowly and fully, hold your breath for a few seconds, then slowly release that breathe out. A few repetitions of this will help alleviate your stress and help you refocus.
3. Get Outdoors – Whether it’s the fresh air, the connection with nature or simply mild exercise, spending time outdoors has been proven to improve moods. A change of scenery also helps reset a your stressed mind. So, if you’re overwhelmed, take a break and go outside, even if it’s just for a few moments.
4. Stay Hydrated – Being dehydrated decreases your performance which can make you feel more stressed. If you’re in a bad mood or if you perhaps feel a headache coming on, take a big drink of water and see if that helps.
5. Snack Attack – Making sure you fuel your body regularly is vital in keeping energy levels up and stress levels low, especially if it’s been a while since your last meal. If you do this, try to focus on healthy foods. A chocolate bar or bag of crisps might sound enjoyable, but the sugar crash you may afterward make them less advisable. Instead, look for fruits, vegetables, nuts, or whole grains. Saying all that, don’t be scared to give yourself a treat occasionally too!
6. Stretch Out – Yoga, or any type of stretch-based exercise gives you a break from work, increases blood circulation, and can reduce stress. It also keeps you feeling limber and healthier, which can improve your feelings of wellbeing overall.
7. Try guided imagery – Guided imagery is similar to meditation in that it distracts you and forces you to centre your attention. You may find this preferable to meditation, since it relies more heavily on narration. With guided imagery, you utilise all of your senses — vision, taste, sound, smell, and touch — to build images in the mind that your body feels are as real as external events.
8. Muscle Relaxation – Start by concentrating on your toes, and focus on relaxing every muscle in them. Next, focus on your feet; relax every muscle in them. Work your way up through your ankles, calves, thighs, and so on up your body, including your face and forehead. Don’t move on from one body part until you achieve relaxation in that body part. Take your time; there’s no need to rush through this process. The waves of stress relief you feel in this process are hard to beat!
9. Hug It Out! – Giving and receiving wanted hugs releases a number of feel-good chemicals in the brain, including oxytocin, which helps us to develop bonds. Find someone you love or care about and ask for a hug. They may appreciate it as much as you do!
10. Talk It Out – You can stimulate the release of oxytocin by simply talking to someone you love. Consider calling or sending a text to a spouse, a relative, or a close friend when you feel overwhelmed during the day. Hearing their voice can immediately make you feel better.
11. Aromatherapy Benefits – The evidence of aromatherapy is mixed, but if you genuinely like certain scents (peppermint, lavender, cinnamon/spice eyc), aromatherapy is undoubtedly beneficial. Utilise candles and incense (safely) and air fresheners in your space, so you can call upon them as needed
12. Meditate – The benefits of meditation are extraordinary, and it’s so easy to get started! There are many varieties of meditation, but mindfulness meditation may be one of the easiest and best forms for stress management. The idea is simple: clear your mind, observe your own thoughts and allow them to pass. You may also find it useful to focus your attention on something constant, like the sound of your breathing. In any case, meditation can clear your head and reduce your subjective feelings of stress, especially if practiced regularly.
13. Get Active – Any form of physical exercise reduces stress, so try to work exercise into your daily schedule. Choose something you genuinely enjoy, whether it’s biking, swimming, boxing, lifting weights, or just walking around your neighbourhood! If you feel stressed during the workday, try to take a break and go for a short walk. The endorphins released during any physical activity will help you feel better both physically and mentally.
14. Journaling – Journaling is another simple way to relieve stress, as sometimes just being aware of our feelings and describing them can make them feel less intense. Journaling forces you to not only describe your feelings, but also express how those feelings arose, and what you might do to manage them.
15. Get Arty – Creating art, in any form, can relieve your stress. Depending on your skill level and what materials you have available, you could play a song on an instrument, create a sculpture out of a clay, or simply make a doodle in your notepad. It’s expression that allows you to channel your feelings and focus on something other than what is causing you stress.
16. Reframe Stress – Studies suggest that our perception of stress may play a bigger role in health outcomes than the actual stress we feel. So, instead of seeing stress as some awful feeling to be avoided at all costs, learn to see it as a natural part of life that brings with it advantages and disadvantages. Also remind yourself that stress is something you can actively control and manage, with the right mental tools and outlook.
17. Restructure – Once you understand the things that stress you the most, you can rearrange your life to avoid or downplay those stressors. For example, if you’re stressed because you’re overwhelmed with tasks that you have to do, consider asking for more help from your loved ones or colleagues. Everyone, absolutely everyone, needs help sometimes!
18. Work/Life Balance – Leisure time is vital to a long-term healthy mindset strategy. You absolutely need to take breaks from work throughout the day, and also holidays from your job – whether it’s visiting family or a sunny getaway. Too many people fight stress by burying themselves in more work, which is counterproductive. You have to schedule your leisure time and make it a priority if you want to see the benefits.
19. Expressing Gratitude – Multiples studies have confirmed that expressing gratitude, whether it’s publicly, in writing, or even just to yourself, can improve your mood and reduce stress. Get in the habit of thinking about or talking about all the things you’re grateful for, whether it’s in your personal or professional life. Even in the most stressful or high-pressure situation, there’s usually something you can find to be grateful for.
20. Hobby/Craft – Taking time to enjoy something completely un-work-related is a great way to create time that’s completely yours. Whether it’s picking up a hobby you enjoyed as a child or trying something completely new, having an outlet to experiment, learn and experience can undoubtedly help with long term stresses.
21. Read – Whether it’s a flick through a glossy magazine, rereading a favourite book, learning something new or dipping into something new, reading focusing the mind away from our inner thoughts and onto something external. As well as acting a distraction from whatever is stressing you out, reading calms the mind and also gives us more to talk about!
22. Laughter As Medicine! – Laughter really is the best medicine for stress, so find whatever makes you giggle and take time to enjoy it. Whether it’s funny videos on YouTube/TikTok, a chinwag with a humorous friend or booking in to see your favourite comedian, laughter always help to raise your spirits and release the endorphins that make you feel better.
23. Self Care – Simple solutions are often the easiest and the best for short term stress relief, and taking time for a shower is one of these. Personal care is often avoided when we feel stressed or overwhelmed but a refreshing shower, or soak in the bath can immediately make you feel better and change your perspective on things.
24. Pet Benefits – Anyone who has a pet will tell you that cuddling and petting them can provide instant feelings of calm. However, if you don’t have a pet, even the act of touching and stroking soft, tactile materials can relieve short term stress so grab your childhood cuddly toy or favourite blanket and cuddle up for a moment.
25. Declutter – One of the main causes of everyday stress is often feeling overwhelmed by the clutter in and around our living spaces. However we often don’t have the time or energy to take it on all at once. Focus on decluttering on part of your life today, whether it’s your desk, your sock drawer or your computer desktop! This simple act will help you feel more in control and give you a sense of achievement that will help destress.
26. Tech Free Day – A day without devices can be a great way of removing stress from your life. The constant bombardment of social media, emails, texts and calls can drive the calmest person to feel overwhelmed. If you can, try a day without devices to give yourself a break from all the “noise” or, at the very least, turn off your notifications!
27. Random Acts of Kindness – Did you know that doing something for someone else, whether requested or unprompted, actually makes us feel better too? Think about someone who may need support, encouragement or a little boost in your life, and do something that will make you both feel good. It’s a win/win and doesn’t need to cost a thing, other than your time and thoughtfulness!
28. Quiet Time – Constant and loud noises have been shown to increase stress when experienced with no break and it’s often hard to escape them. If you don’t have a quiet space you can go to, invest in some earplugs or noise cancelling earphones. This way, you can find some peace and quiet to help you relax and take a much-needed break.
29. Self-Talk! – Self-talk has enormous power over us. If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts, you’re going to feel more stressed and less satisfied. Unfortunately, changing your self-talk patterns is difficult! It can take tremendous self-awareness to identify when you’re practicing negative self-talk and discipline to change your way of thinking. However think of this investment of time as the path to make your new positive self-talk habits stick.
30. Get Support – If you’re really struggling with acute or chronic stress, one of the best things you can do is get support. Tell the people in your life, including your coworkers, supervisors, friends, and family members, about your struggles, and if there’s anything they can do to help you, let them know. But, if you’re still having difficulty after making positive changes, consider talking to a professional and/or your family doctor.