Stop feeling overwhelmed - 5 ways to de-stress, instantly
It happens to us all, that overwhelming feeling of sinking under the pressure of work, social commitments, household bills and other responsibilities. Whether you're looking after a large family, juggling the demands of a stressful job with a full-on social life or simply long for a few more hours in the day to yourself (who doesn't!) then you'll relate to these feelings. Being stressed to the point you're overwhelmed is bad news, physically and mentally. Not only does this raise your cortisol levels, making your heart pump faster and your body work harder, it can also give you a headache, make you feel sick and lead to emotional distress. So if you find yourself bursting into tears or snapping at your other half, apparently for no reason, then stress could be to blame.
It's all very well acknowledging that you're just juggling too much - what you'd like to know is, what can you actually do about it? Good news - we've got 5 ways to help you de-stress, instantly. For some of them, you'll need to be at home, whilst others can be done in the middle of a busy tube carriage at rush hour - but please pay attention to other people and your surroundings! Ready to banish some of that stress? Ok, deep breath, here we go....
#1. See the positives
You know that friend who always views the glass as half full? Turns out, she could be onto something. Positive thinking can not only make you feel better, it can change negative situations into situations with a happier outcome. Stuck at the station waiting for your delayed train after work? Damn, you're going to miss your favourite TV show. On the plus side, you now have loads of time to start reading that new Kindle book you downloaded last week, and you can watch your show on catch-up later, or save it for next week and enjoy a double bill! See what we mean? You'll generally find there's a positive spin on (almost) any situation, it's just about re-training your brain to think positively rather than negatively. If you need some help doing this, hang out with an annoyingly optimistic friend and pick up some tips - we promise you it works! Here are a couple of other examples:
- Missed your work deadline? Your boss is angry with you, and you're starting to beat yourself up. Use this as an opportunity to show them what you can do - make it up to them for missing the deadline (and then some) by putting 200% effort into your next project, or have a chat with them to see if you can take on extra hours or responsibility. Tell yourself that these things happen, and strive to do better next time, don't be harsh on yourself!
- Broken your favourite mug? Hmm, toughie. Most of us have a mug we love to drink from, whether your beverage of choice is a herbal tea or a cheeky morning coffee. It's sad that it's broken, but hey, you can go and hunt for a new one - which will probably be even better than the original, because, let's face it, you have great taste!
#2. Find some inner calm
If you've ever watched Black Books, you'll probably remember the very first episode, where Manny (Bill Bailey) swallows the Little Book of Calm, with surprising results! We're not suggesting you go to similar lengths, but finding your own version of inner calm can be achieved easily and can make you feel better quicker than you might think. Wherever you are right now, close your eyes, just for a few seconds, if it's safe to do so - if you're on public transport, it's best to wait until you have a seat before trying this! Now focus on your breath as it goes in and out, letting external noises and internal thoughts wash over you. The only thing you should be focused on is your breath. Count to 10, and slowly open your eyes. The result? Well, you'll definitely feel a bit less overwhelmed and ready to crack on with your day, which is never a bad thing!
#3. Take a nap
Do you ever feel so stressed, you're at risk of becoming Stressed Eric? Research shows that napping for short periods can actually be beneficial to health. We're not talking about those hour-long Sunday afternoon sofa naps, but rather a quick 15-20 minutes at your desk at work, or in the car. Daytime napping is actually carried out by 85% of mammals, so as humans, we're in the minority, as most of us keep going until bedtime. 20-30 minutes is the ideal length of time for a nap, keep it short and sweet, to avoid waking up feeling even more exhausted. By napping at the same time on a regular basis, your body will get used to the routine, and you should find you wake up feeling ready to take on the world - and definitely feeling less stressed out!
#4. Call a good friend
It's important to choose carefully when calling a friend for a pick-me-up. Choose your friend who is always stressed out and you could find you end up feeling even worse! Pick a negative friend and you could end the conversation with a serious case of the blues. A good friend will listen to your concerns and stresses, offer a little advice (if they know you want it) and reassure you that it will all be okay. Maintaining close friendships helps us to feel less lonely and can reduce stress levels, so if you're feeling like you can't cope under pressure, give a friend a quick buzz. In a push, texting or social media can cut it, but we recommend speaking over the phone, if possible.
Nobody likes to see somebody else buckle under pressure, so it's important to communicate if things are getting on top of you. Overloaded at work? Speak to your boss, or see if you can delegate some tasks to a colleague, to lighten the load. Not enough time to meet that project deadline? Telling your client well in advance may mean you can agree on a new deadline that suits both of you. Feeling fed up and frustrated because your other half doesn't pull their weight when it comes to cooking or cleaning the house? They probably already know they're guilty, but speak to them about it, rather than simmering silently then exploding into anger. Communication is the key to solving many stressful situations and at the very least, you'll feel better for letting somebody know you're struggling. Don't feel like you have to be in control 100% of the time - life isn't like that, and you could find it makes you unhappy in the long run.
Hopefully, by now, you've tried one or more of these tips and are feeling a little less like the world is out to get you. There are loads of other ways to de-stress too, like meditation, getting some exercise or ensuring you're eating a healthy diet that supports your body from the inside out. Stress can seriously impact your physical and mental health, so anything that reduces our stress levels, we like!