I’ve always been a “stresser”, one of those people that over-think everything and look at it from every angle before making the decision that – nine times out of ten – I instinctively wanted to in the first place. I find it hard to switch off, to let go, and just enjoy the moment. I know I’m not alone out there, and we all – I think – have our stress triggers, things that set us off and send us down the rabbit hole into sleepless nights or over-eating or drinking etc. etc. etc.
For my husband, it’s lack of sleep. Less than eight hours a night and he finds it hard to cope with the little things that crop up in the day. For me, it’s work. Or rather, too much work. I’ve always had jobs that required me to work longer than my 37.5 hours, often late nights or weekends, and that hasn’t changed now I’ve started freelancing (though I did just say no to my first job this week to avoid the late nights so go me!).
For me, I know finding a work-life balance is key to less stress but, let’s be honest, for most of us out there, that work-life balance isn’t always possible. Over the years, then, I’ve tried a lot of different things to help me cope with the stresses of working life and keep me sane.
I know it will always be something I need to be conscious of but I do feel, as I’ve gotten older, I have finally found some of those tools to help me stay calm, collected and just a little bit more “zen”. I have to say, they aren’t that original but that’s probably why they work…
….a long walk, where I listen to the news and realise my troubles are so much more trivial than most peoples in most parts of the world. Until the end of last year, I would often never move from my desk for the whole day. Then, I set myself a challenge to get that little bit fitter and started fitting walks into my day. Now, I honestly couldn’t live without my afternoon break from the computer and, even on the days I run (which doesn’t put me anywhere near a state of zen because it’s so hard) I still get out and walk.
….a bit of mindfulness, which I know is a bit of a buzz-phrase at the moment but does work, or at least it does for me. Working for a mental health charity for the last few years, it was something we recommended to people we supported. I figured it might be a good idea for me, then, to give it a go. There are so many options for mindfulness out there, though, that it took me a while to figure out how to make it work for me, especially as I’m not much of a one for meditation. My answer came with a free course from Future Learn – Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance. There’s a lot in there about how to be mindful at work and, as that’s my main area of stress, it really helped me I have to say and I now find it second nature.
….a warm bath, one that isn’t too hot and isn’t too cold but just the right temperature to help send me off to sleep. I can often spend an hour lounging, reading a book or listening to the radio (both distraction techniques that stop my mind wandering), topping the water up when I need it before heading straight to bed and, if I’m lucky, an uninterrupted nights sleep because my mind and body have switched off. I’ll often use bath oils like lavender to help me off to the land of nod, though my favourite when I can afford it is Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil. It’s not cheap at £49 a bottle but it is sooooooo good!
….a good book, which I already mentioned but is one of the best ways for me to switch off from the world. I love to read and a day without picking up a book seems like a day wasted. No matter how many hours I work and how tired I feel, I try to make sure I get a few chapters in before bed, making the move from thinking about reports to – in my case – who murdered who in some quaint English village.
And that’s it for me, a way to stay sane and stress(ish) free from morning till night. Do you do any of these things – or how do you de-stress and stay sane?