Tired? Stressed? Overwhelmed? If you collapse in an exhausted heap at the end of the day, you’re not alone. But you don’t need to continue suffering. Try these simple and effective methods for de-stressing on for size.
Dr. Richard Earle, director of The Canadian Institute of Stress, says people who invest long, exhausting hours into their careers, family life and other obligations are routinely leading stressed lives.
The roller coaster ride
This can set them up to experience a roller coaster ride of high-stress, high-energy moments during the day, followed by energy slumps at home when they finally have some downtime. “This roller coaster pattern of prolonged high output followed by… fatigue is increasingly widespread, especially amongst that 40 per cent of Canadians who are working more than 50 hours per week,” Dr. Earle confirms.
“The following early warning signs can be useful as a checklist to measure whether you’re under too much stress.”
- Inability to concentrate
- Pounding heart
- Erratic behaviour
- Poor judgment
- Difficulty making decisions
- Excessive worrying
- Sudden increases in smoking/alcohol use
- Feeling worthless
- More frequent illnesses
- High blood pressure
If you experience three or more of these on a regular basis, it’s time to de-stress, and there’s no better way to achieve calm than with some of these suggestions.
Create a relaxation space
It doesn’t need to be anything more than a comfy chair and side table in your bedroom or a soft daybed in your living room. Whatever it is, this space should be solely devoted to relaxing. Make sure there are always candles nearby to create calming dim lighting, with magazines and books on hand and a flat surface to store your drinks and snacks. And when you check in to this space, let those around you (including your children) know you’re off limits for at least 30 minutes, so you can relax, unwind and decompress without distraction.
If you have a family, then you know that the 5–7 p.m. window can become chaotic at times. Trying to get the kids fed, bathed and ready for bed is rarely a relaxing experience. So instead of wolfing down bites of your dinner in between looking after the family, wait to eat until everyone else is taken care of, and then set aside 15 minutes to eat mindfully. Eat your meal while it’s hot so you can taste and chew and savour each bite, allowing your senses to actually enjoy the moment.
Check out these five foods to eat when you’re stressed >>
Make a date with a friend
Do you ever walk away from spending time with a friend and feel lighter or uplifted? Catching up with a friend and chatting about each of your thoughts, ideas and concerns is a great form of stress relief, as it prompts you to talk about issues that are bothering you. You can then workshop possible solutions or different angles so you can stop dwelling and start moving forward. Make a date with a friend on the phone, in person or over Skype, and get venting.
Treat yourself to bathroom pampering
It could be a calming bath with fragrant oils and candles that helps you take the pressure down, or an at-home mud mask followed by a hot shower. Either way, spending some “me time” in the bathroom has proven stress-relieving benefits, as heat relaxes muscles, and 30 minutes of alone time gives your brain the space it needs to unwind and relax, free from stimulus and distraction.
Avoid the internet
If you’ve ever been on a diet, you’ve likely kept a food diary and then been startled by your unconscious eating habits. If you were to keep a technology diary, you might be similarly surprised. Checking out Facebook and Twitter, exchanging texts, playing games online and catching up on emails… These are things we do constantly and distractingly, and they do little to help us relax at the end of the day. In fact, when you’re already feeling tired, stressed or overwhelmed from a busy day, the last thing you want to do is add to your mental clutter by checking your Facebook feed. Instead, plug your phone into the charger at 6 p.m., and leave it there until the next day. Your brain will thank you for it!