It’s a bit of a coincidence that Stress Awareness month coincides with the end of the tax year, or is it? The 5th of April marks the last day of the tax year and landlords everywhere will be breathing a sigh of relief that they can put it behind them and start fresh.
If the beginning of April has thrown you into disarray, now is a better time than ever to relax and destress. So, we’ve come up with 30 different ways that you can destress, whether you only have 10 minutes to spare or have the luxury of a full day to unwind.
10 Ways to De-stress Instantly
1. Drink tea
Taking 5 minutes to sit down and drink a cup of tea with no distractions can help you to de-stress. Researchers have found that drinking tea can low your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. If you want to try something a bit different than black tea, green tea has the added benefits of containing antioxidants.
2. Go for a short walk
You’ve heard the expression ‘walk it off’ when you injure your body, but we rarely think to apply this to our minds. Taking a short walk, even as brief as 10 minutes a day, can help to reduce stress. Science shows that a good dose of natural light every day can go a long way towards reducing stress levels. Take the dog for a walk, take a stroll to the shop instead of taking the car. It doesn’t have to be a massive commitment, but it will have huge benefits, especially if you make it a habit.
3. Write it down
It might sound silly but sometimes purging our worries onto a piece of paper can take some of the weight away from them. Taking our stressors from a hectic flurry in our heads and putting them into a tangible format allows us to see them both clearer and more singularly, rather than all at once which can often make them feel bigger than they are. From there, you can pick out the things that are the most pressing and work on a plan to deal with them.
4. De-clutter your space
Clutter makes most of us feel stressed, whether we realise it or not, and has been linked to increased levels of cortisol. Piles of mess signal to us that we have lots to do, whether that’s piles of paperwork or piles of laundry. It’s useful to declutter your space to stop mess accumulating and becoming overwhelming. A decluttered space makes for a decluttered mind, and a decluttered mind will help you to be more productive.
5. Breathing exercises
Breathing exercises are a quick way to calm you down and stop your mind racing at 100 miles an hour. This is because the act of taking deep breaths sends signals to the mind to relax, which then sends these signals out to your body, slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. Even just a few minutes is enough to start the process of relaxing your body, so it’s a great tip when you’re strapped for time. If you struggle to take steady deep breaths yourself, there are lots of short guided-breathing videos on YouTube.
We know this isn’t always practical if you’re out and about, but if you’ve not been able to get enough sleep for a night or (god forbid) more than one, then a quick power nap could be just what you need. Try to nap for a maximum of 30 minutes so you’re not falling into a deeper sleep and waking up groggy.
However, prevention is always better than the cure, so treat yourself to some extra sleep when you can. This might be easier said than done if you have young children, but it’s worth a shot.
7. Get some alone time
Alone time isn’t for everyone, but some people find it nice to just take a few hours. However, if you don’t have the luxury of a few hours, stepping away from the hustle and bustle for just 5 minutes to decompress can give you the boost that you need to refocus yourself and carry on with your day. Find a quiet space where you won’t be distracted and switch off when you need to.
8. Spend ten minutes with your pet
If you’re working from home and need a quick break, spending that time with your pet can help you to de-stress. Research has shown time spent with pets increases levels of the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin slows the heart rate and reduces blood pressure, allowing the body to calm down and the mind to feel happier.
9. Listen to music
Listening to music has a healing power that no one can really quantify, it can really help you unwind. Research into what music helps most people relax found 10 tracks proven to reduce stress and anxiety. So, if you’ve not got a lot of time, play a couple of your favourite relaxing songs and try to focus on zoning out of your stress and into the music.
When you’re under a lot of stress, you carry this in your body. Because stretching relieves tension in the body, it automatically reduces stress. You can get really into stretching and do some yoga if you like, but a few quick seated stretches such as arm and neck ones will do the trick if you’ve only got 5 minutes to spare.
10 Fun Ways to De-stress
1. Smash stuff
Metaphorically of course!
Video games are a great way to release tension. If you’ve had a tough year, taking some time to smash a video game world to pieces can be a cathartic experience. Break out the gaming snacks, dust off your console and get stuck into one of your favourite games.
2. Have a wild night out
Have a fun (socially distanced) night out with your friends when restrictions are lifted, that way everyone can let their hair down. Try going somewhere you’ve never been before. If pubs aren’t your scene, see if there are other activities your friends can join you for, go to the cinema, have a game night, go shopping, meet for coffee, the possibilities are endless.
3. Find new tunes
As mentioned above, music has a sort of healing power. If you’ve got spare time on your hands, have a look for new songs you can add to your playlists. Don’t have a playlist? Then it’s time to build one! Try out some new services like Spotify or Amazon music, both will create curated lists of new music for you to try.
After what might’ve been the longest winter known to man, spring is finally here and it’s time to dig out your spade and gloves. Re-discover your zen amongst the flowerbeds and rose bushes or try growing some of your own vegetables. Right now is the perfect time of year to grow tomatoes outdoors.
5. Chat to a friend you haven’t caught up with for a while
It’s easy to put off catching up when you’re so busy. After a while it can feel awkward to pick up the phone. Then when you do, you can never remember why you waited so long! If you have busy schedules, you can always arrange a time when you’re both going to be free, so you can catch up properly.
6. Drive to the beach
For most a beach on their doorstep is a luxury they can only dream of, but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on being able to enjoy a trip to the seaside. Ocean sounds are known to be soothing and relaxing to the brain and the sea air is good for oxygen absorption and serotonin levels. If you look out the window one Saturday and see the sun, look up your closest beach and get going!
7. Pig out
With lockdown restrictions in the UK due to be lifted over the coming months, you’ve got the perfect reason to go and try out that restaurant you booked in for 12 months ago. If you’ve been dieting all year, then treat yourself to a day where you aren’t counting calories. Go big, have 3 courses, try the craft beers and signature cocktails, and make the most of dining out again!
If you’ve been stressed out for a while it might be the case that you’ve forgotten how good it feels to throw your head back and laugh. Book tickets to an online comedy show, watch a funny film, read a funny book. Get laughing and feel those endorphins recharging your energy!
9. Binge watch a TV show – responsibly
According to psychiatrists (we’re not joking), binge watching your favourite shows releases dopamine into the brain, which helps us to relax. So, when your favourite show releases a new series, binge until your heart’s content. Just be careful not to do this often as too much overindulging can have negative effects on you.
10. Go on a last-minute trip
Feeling overworked and need to get away from it all? Is your holiday not for another 6 months? How about taking an impromptu trip away? Check out sites like Holiday Pirates, Jacks Flight Club, or Secret Escapes for some great last-minute deals. Or if you don’t want to go far, you can always visit your nearest tourist town.
5 Productive Ways to De-stress
1. Learn something new
When all your days blur into one and life becomes a constant cycle it’s not surprising that we don’t take the time to learn new skills.
Decide what you’d like to learn and get on it. This doesn’t have to be a huge deal. Sure, if you’d like to go into re-education take the time to find some good courses, but if you’ve just got a passing interest in something look out for podcasts, books and other resources.
Finding a way to keep it fun will help to keep you engaged! For example, if you want to try learning another language, the app Duolingo gamifies language learning, lets you sets goals and sends reminders to keep you engaged.
2. Work it out
Exercise is good for releasing tension, not to mention you’ll have a great appetite and sleep sounder afterwards. Take part in your favourite sport, go to an exercise class, or get a combo benefit by exercising outside, play golf, go hiking, go for a run. The list of exercises you can take part in is endless.
OK, hear me out. No one likes housework, but if you’re anything like me, you do the bare minimum most of the time. That means certain jobs don’t get done. When you have the luxury of time on your side it doesn’t feel so much like work. Try attacking cobwebs, dusting skirting boards, or looking for lost treasure lurking behind your fridge or washing machine.
Housework can be a good way to release tension, plus it’s highly satisfying when you’ve finished and everything is clean and shiny. Don’t forget housework counts as exercise, and you can listen to music or podcasts while you do it.
4. Sort out your next holiday
It’s safe to say that the majority of us in the UK won’t have been able to go abroad for longer than we’d like to even acknowledge. But with vaccinations being rolled out and the end very nearly in sight, now could be a good time to organise a holiday.
Have you always fancied seeing what all the fuss is about at the lakes or getting a bit of sun down on the gorgeous beaches in Cornwall? Things are still uncertain for the future, so it might be a good year to try a domestic holiday.
If you work for yourself book these as non-negotiable dates in your diary so you’ve got something to look forward to. If you work for someone else, book the holiday in your diary. Planning ahead means you’ll have something to look forward to, and you’ll get dibs on any busy times of year.
Lockdown has given many of us ample time to get started on our long-anticipated DIY projects, as restrictions left us looking for things to do around the house. If you’ve still not got round to it, there’s no time like the present. Getting that home project finally over and done with should make your house feel more like a home. Just make sure you have time to finish it before you get back to the grind, otherwise it may have the opposite effect.
5 Healthy Ways to De-stress
1. Catch up with family and loved ones
Keeping in touch with family helps us to feel more connected and supported, but it’s so easy to get sucked into a routine of work, sleep, eat, repeat. Following the restrictions in your area, think of creative ways to spend some quality time with your family. Play games in the park, have a picnic, go for walks, enjoy an outdoor screening of a film together.
2. Get some down time from your gadgets
Gadgets are great, but studies show they aren’t always good for your health. Being too attached to your gadgets can cause stress, depression, anxiety, and the blue light emitted by these devices can have a negative effect on your sleep.
Try to have breaks from your gadgets, where you stop obsessively checking whatever it is you obsessively check – yes, we’ve all got something. For me it’s Pinterest, for you it might be your property portfolio, your bank account, Facebook, or the news. Whatever it is, give yourself a break from it and see how much better you feel.
3. Stop smoking
A lot of people believe that smoking a cigarette is something that helps you to relax. However, smoking actually increases stress and anxiety. Studies show that people who stop smoking have decreased levels of anxiety and stress alongside overall improved moods. Quitting may be difficult in the short run, but with the help of aids like nicotine patches, you’ll benefit from it in the long run.
4. Eat well
A busy schedule can mean we are often rushing to the shops for convenience food, that’s if you actually have time for a lunch break. Eating well when you can will replenish nutrients your body needs to function effectively, making you feel better physically and mentally.
When chronically stressed the body usually needs more protein, to slow the release of sugar, so when stressed try to eat protein rich meals that might include chicken, fish, eggs, beans, etc.
5. Pamper yourself
If you don’t have time to book in for someone else to pamper you at a spa, why not bring the spa to you. Facemasks are a quick, relaxing way to pamper your face. Bathing in sea salt can ease stress, soothe sore muscles and hydrate dry skin. And if you like the idea of self-care but pampering isn’t your thing, take a lazy day and let your duvet do the healing.
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