Oh my gosh have I been feeling the stress lately. It’s nobody’s fault but my own – I like to stretch myself too far, say ‘yes’ to just about everything, and be there for as many people as humanly possible. But sometimes things can get a little overwhelming and you’re sitting there diagnosing yourself with atrial fibrillation and wondering why you’re crying over your yogurt going all curdled even though it’s been in the fridge all day like it should have been (…both of these things happened to me just this afternoon).
For something a little different, I thought I’d set out 14 simple ways I help myself switch off when the going gets tough and I need some relaxin’ in my life. Your chilling out methods are, of course, very much welcome (and needed) in the comments!
1. Go for a run
If you had told me 6 months ago that I would advocate going for a run as a way to de-stress, I would have laughed in your face – and then had to have had a sit down to recover from all that strenuous body movement.
Getting all sweaty while running around your streets might seem like the most horrendous idea to begin with, but I’m sure you’ve heard about all the good endorphins it releases. Much more than that, though, it allows you to get out of your head
(by concentrating on not passing out with exhaustion) and get some fresh air. That feeling when you’ve just run a 1k/2k/5k/10k without stopping is exhilarating too.
But if you’re certain that running isn’t for you, walking is just as good. Just get out of your room or your office, and take some nice, deep breaths.
2. Invite a friend over
There’s no better way to slow your life down than by inviting someone over. Then, you’re forced to stop over-thinking/worrying about stuff in the future that’s out of your control, and focus on pressing things at hand, like mastering that karaoke song of Backstreet Boys’ Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).
3. Have a shower
Up until about 6 months ago I would have said ‘Have a bath’, but then my family got rid of the bath and I have to resort to using a shower and wiping the glass down after every use. Sigh.
That being said, showers are great for mini freshen ups and de-stressing. It’s like when you’re in the pool on holiday and you stand under the mini waterfall and let the water pound down on your back and work its massaging magic.
4. Write. Or just have a mind splurge
Even if I don’t fancy sitting down to write a 1500-word blog post, I’ll sit my butt down and scribble down my thoughts, my worries, my story ideas, my blog post ideas, my to-do list – anything. Having things written down in front of you helps empty your mind of unnecessary things, and helps you focus on what’s important.
5. Play Pokemon Go
OK, don’t laugh. But I’m sort of, slightly, 110% addicted to Pokemon Go. I know a lot of people roll their eyes at it and think it’s just a game for the nerdy, but oh my gosh it’s so much more than that. It gives me something else to focus on and a solid reason to get out for a walk (gotta hatch those 10km eggs somehow).
Not an exaggeration, but I probably wouldn’t have got through uni if it wasn’t for all those naps I took. While everyone else around me was chilling out by heading to the pubs, I’d be settling down for an early night, ready to face the stress of writing a dissertation/doing a presentation/reading a 80-page Elizabethan text. Nowadays, I recognise that I’m at my most stressed when I haven’t had enough sleep, so I make napping a priority at the weekends.
7. Learn some basic massage techniques
It’s times like this – when I’m sitting down and relaxing – that I realise how tensed up my body is. Even if I ‘feel’ relaxed, I notice how on edge my shoulders are, and MAN it feels great to let them roll back into their natural state.
As much as I would love to employ a full-time massage therapist to follow me around from home to work and back again, my bank balance wouldn’t be so keen on that idea. So instead, I often give myself little mini massages to help myself relax. On my forehead, on my shoulders, on my legs…wherever I’m feeling that uncomfortable tension.
8. Make a cup of tea
…or coffee if you want to break my heart. Just get up out that chair, make a drink and let it sooth your very being.
9. Let the tears flow
There’s nothing like a good cry to readdress the balance of your emotions. I find if I let my emotions build up and up and up, I will crack over something so petty and it makes everything feel 10x worse. Now, if I’m having a bit of a moment I choose to let myself feel that wave of sadness/stress/anxiety, allowing my mind to work through things of its own accord.
10. Sit in a room and do nothing
I did this yesterday (only for 10 minutes, mind), and by golly it felt good. Just that feeling of sitting, doing nothing, and knowing you don’t physically have to do anything is so underrated.
11. Pet ALL the animals
These two. Oh my gosh, these two. They somehow always seem to know when I’m in need of some ginger snuggles too.
12. WhatsApp your favourite person
My boyfriend must be a saint for putting up with all the random messages from me throughout the day. “What are you up to?” “Will you come to Australia with me?” “I just caught a >insert name of random Pokemon here<“
My point is: find someone who makes you feel whole, happy and loved. It can be one person, several friends, a family member, anyone. Just knowing that someone’s got your back and that you’re not alone is priceless.
13. Read the most pointless Buzzfeed articles ever
There’s a time and a place for reading high-end literature, and when you’re feeling completely stressed out is SO not one of them. Put down the Alexandre Dumas and spend 5 minutes looking at memes and finding out which Stranger Things character you are. Or just look up listicles that speak to your soul.
14. Have something to look forward to
I cannot stress this one enough. It could be something as simple as a nap, eating some chocolate or watching an episode of your favourite TV show. Or it could be something HUGE, like booking a RTW trip or buying a house. Stress can sometimes be just about bearable when you have something to aim for, so don’t underestimate the power of the carrot and stick.