For some, the end of the year is a time of relaxation and excitement for the holiday season.
For others, it is a time full of stress and apprehension as we face tight deadlines, shopping centre crowds, last minute bills and busy schedules. Whether the end of year dash has elevated that heart rate, or you’re an anxious person looking for some relief, here are some quick and easy ways to cope with your stress effectively.
Sounds simple. However, you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget those long, deep breaths when you are anxious. When stressed, take a moment to pause and take some deep breaths. Just a few will help to reduce tension as your body thanks you for the extra oxygen. If you are particularly anxious, counting your breaths is a good way for your mind to focus on something other than your stressor. Count 1 upon breathing in, 2 on the out breath and continue up to 10. Repeat as many times as needed.
Doing some physical activity is a great way to reduce stress and improve your overall health. A quick walk will give you a boost of endorphins, helping you feel good and reduce your stress hormones. While a walk anywhere will do you some good, it’s a great idea to go to a park or green area which will help promote meditation.
Get away from the screens
Uninterrupted computer use can have a damaging effect on our bodies and can lead to stress, depression and loss of sleep in some cases. Try to get away from the computer and phone screen as much as possible, making sure to stand up and take breaks. At night, avoid bright screens at least an hour before going to bed. This will promote a better sleep as the harsh lighting from phones can stop your brain from producing melatonin, a hormone that lets your body know that it’s time for sleep.
Listen to some music
Grab a pair of headphones or turn up the stereo and enjoy the calming powers of music. While certain types of music, such as classical, are known for having a soothing effect – including lowering blood pressure, slowing the heart rate and decreasing stress hormones – listening to any type of music that you enjoy can have a positive effect. In terms of medical speak, listening to your favourite music can flood your brain with dopamine, which is a feel-good neurochemical.
Setting your mind to a productive task can be a great way to eliminate stress whilst being productive in the process. Repetitive tasks such as knitting, cross-stitching and colouring could be great as they encourage a feeling of calm, however partaking in any craft activity could be beneficial – as long as it isn’t too difficult and doesn’t make you frustrated!
Not all phone and computer time is bad
While we should be taking a break from our screens whenever we get the chance – especially before heading off to bed – there are instances when having smart phones or laptops could be handy. There are many videos that provide guided meditation, calming music soundtracks and yoga demonstrations that could be great to view. You can also choose from a wide selection of apps that are created to help you care for your mind and body. Just some of these apps are: Smiling Mind, Headspace, Relax Melodies and Buddhify.
Spend some time with your friends
Sometimes one of the best fixes is spending time with loved ones. Having some company will not only ensure you aren’t feeling lonely, but can help boost your mood as it distracts you from your stressors or gives you the opportunity to talk them out with someone you trust.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and many people will have their own unique way of calming down that works for them. The important thing is to try techniques until you find one that is most effective. Look after yourself.