In recognition of National Stress Awareness Day (and admittedly recognition of my own, frequent, high levels of stress) I have put together five different ways that I combat those rising tides of cortisol. I’m not saying that these provide the perfect solution to everyday stress, but this is how I try and remain positive in the face of adversity. If you catch me on a bad day, I’m more than happy for you to remind me of these pointers too. They really do help.
First up, and yes this is probably the most obvious of the lot, is to take five whenever you can. Living in London, I am surrounded with thousands of faces passing by me each day, and living online there is rarely time for me to look inwards and reflect on myself. On a recent trip to Amsterdam with Rituals, I discovered the concept of “Me Time”. It could be making a cup of tea and appreciating that moment or it could be relaxing by yourself in a sauna or in the bath. Ignore everything, and everyone else, around you and just drift off. If you can’t quite switch off completely, then just focus on that one moment that makes you feel relaxed and happy.
Arguably this could also be “Me Time” if you’re a lone runner, but I often find a strange sense of calmness in the gym. With headphones in, and a mental and physical focus that is channelled into an hour-long workout, it is a great way to get rid of any unwanted excess energy. You’ll feel tired, exhausted and beaten up, but that rush of endorphins and that overall feeling of accomplishing something certainly makes up for that. Whatever your fitness level is, go and test yourself. If the treadmill isn’t your thing, then you could always go for a brisk walk or run outside. Just find the green spaces.
Speaking of achieving something, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the tasks you face each day, then writing a list is a great way to break down the workload. I don’t do this every day, and it is on those days that I often stress about finding more time or, even worse, have that self-perpetuating fear of having forgotten something. Make a list, tick off those boxes and organise life properly. It really does help.
Being in a career that involved moving in the same circles and going to very similar events day in day out, it can be very easy to distance yourself from the real, breathing world. Reconnecting with old friends is a great way to alleviate stress; more often than not they won’t be directly involved in your everyday stresses and are a great distraction. It also feels good to take that step and make the effort yourself; reach out and talk to old friends. You also never know what new opportunities a rekindled friendship could present to you.
While some people prefer to look back, others may prefer to look forward. I was recently introduced to mood boards by a friend, and they are a great way to encourage positive thoughts and goals. Jotting down your aspirations and future achievements really stops you dwelling on the current or the past. Rather than stress out about how bad yesterday was, looking forward to life as a whole is a better way to live. Even the act of writing, and not typing on a laptop or an iPhone, gives you a break from the norm. I try to do this at leas once a month.