Exercise, eat well and relax. You deserve it. It’s the best way to give your body and mind a break and doesn’t take much of your time.
1. Identify the cause
If you are having problems with tense muscles, over-tiredness, headaches or migraines, it is possibly stress-related. It may be your job, relationship, living situation or something else. Problems can be divided into three categories: those with a practical solution, those that will get better with time and those outside your control. Learn to focus on the first kind; ignore the others.
2. Be active: Exercise
Exercise won’t cure your stress, but it can help to clear your head and make you feel as if you’re gaining some control. Try a series of exercises; you can search on the internet for tips. Don’t exacerbate the stress by drinking, smoking and downing double espressos – these aren’t fixes, they’re crutches that will only make you feel physically and mentally worse.
3. Breathe Deeply
Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
4. Talk it through
If you are the kind of person who is open to advice, find a friend to talk to. Friends can support you, and if there is some obvious solution you haven’t considered yet, they may provide you with solutions. Sometimes, you can’t see the easy way out of a situation when you are standing right in the middle of it.
5. Drop your phone for a while.
This doesn’t mean put it on “do not disturb” and look at it less: everyone knows that is not a proper solution. Just put it down for at least an hour before bed and ignore it – have a bath, watch a film or read a book. You won’t check your work emails and you will stop scrolling through the seemingly endless achievements of your peers that will make you panic and feel as if you are getting nowhere. Breathe.
6. Clear your head
Research has produced compelling evidence that meditation can help alleviate stress after just eight weeks. Meditation reprogrammes the brain so that you have more capacity to manage stress as it arises, before it starts accumulating and burying you.
7. Make a list
Having too much to do may put you under pressure. You may even want to move faster, just so you feel as if you are getting more done – but this is a false impression. Make a to-do list. Do the big, important things last, after you have achieved several of the small things. That way, you will approach the big things already feeling good.
8. Eat healthily and drink water