Stress can affect our lives in many unhealthy ways. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take each day to reduce your stress levels and improve your wellbeing.
1. Recognise the Symptoms of Stress
Before you can effectively deal with stress, it’s important to recognise the symptoms. Stress can manifest in lots of ways – some obvious and some less so. Feeling overwhelmed and being irritable with others are some emotional and behavioural signs that you might be suffering from stress. However, there can be physical symptoms, too. These can include headaches and muscle pain. Be aware of any changes which might indicate you’re suffering from stress. Of course, it’s important to see a doctor with any health concerns.
2. Spend Time Outdoors
There is evidence to suggest that spending time in green spaces can help to reduce stress levels, especially if you live in an urban area. Simply being outside in the fresh air promotes feelings of calmness and serenity. Whether you spend your free time walking in the countryside, planting flowers in your back garden, or eating your lunch in the local park, being outside can do wonders to reduce your stress levels. Being outdoors can also provide a boost to your physical health and can even help with mental disorders such as anxiety (although it’s not a substitute for professional help).
3. Declutter Your Life
Our lives can become filled with all kinds of distractions and baggage that weigh us down and increase our stress levels. One great way to reduce stress is to strip away some of this unnecessary clutter. The process of decluttering can be two-fold. One involves getting rid of actual things that you’ve accumulated over the years. It can be very freeing to throw things away and streamline your living space. The second is decluttering other aspects of your life, such as non-obligatory activities and relationships that promote stress rather than contribute to a positive mental state.
4. Plan for a Good Night’s Sleep
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to enjoy a good night’s sleep. Some people are great sleepers who can drop off anywhere. However, many of us need to plan to enjoy not just sleep but good quality sleep that promotes relaxation and reduces stress. As a guide to sleeping well this summer and beyond, try to minimise screen time in the hours leading up to bedtime and set a routine for sleep, so you turn in and get up at the same time each day. If you find it hard to fall asleep, you might like to try playing restful background sounds. There are lots of options available online or to download for free, including crackling fires, gentle rain, waves rolling in, and basic background white noise.
5. Incorporate Downtime into Your Daily Routine
Make time each day to meditate, take a stroll, read a book, or take part in any other activities that get you away from sources of stress and give you a chance to unwind. During busy times, our well-being can become neglected. However, to manage and reduce stress effectively, it is important to make relaxation a priority each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Look at your daily schedule and define a set period of downtime. Also, be sure to let those around you know that this is important ‘me’ time and you’re not to be disturbed (except in an emergency).
Stress can have many negative impacts on our health and wellbeing. However, by recognising the signs of stress and taking steps to relax, you can keep things in balance and be more productive, in and out of work.