If I’m totally honest, right now my cortisol levels are probably at an 8 out of 10, 10 being I’m being chased by a bear. I’ve got an exam tomorrow that I’m not 100% confident about, an essay due on Monday where I’m only about a quarter of the way through the word limit, a crazy busy weekend coming up, and I’m that point where I can’t remember anything I learnt this semester. Stress is good to keep you motivated – stress before deadlines helps you make sure you get everything done on time – but stress long term and in extreme amounts will actually be detrimental to both your health and productivity, so it’s key to work out how to lower it. It’s a bit of hypocrisy here: I’m not very good at giving myself time to wind down when I’m feeling stressed. But this a little reminder (for both me and you!) to stress less and reboot.
Take a step back
If you’re working on the computer, take your eyes off the screen for a while. I try not to do any ‘heavy’ work after dinner time (I’m morning person), so I set the evening aside for unwinding.
Go for a walk
Usually straight after I’ve been working on a project or studying, especially if I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, I find it really difficult to calm my mind and heart. Going for a half hour walk outside helps me to relieve the physical tension from sitting at my desk, gives me fresh air and an opportunity to take my mind off things and be present. If I’m particularly stressed, I tend to find excuses not to go (even though I know it’ll really help) so I bring a ‘reason’, such as a new podcast episode I love or my dog.
Take some deep breaths
Once my mind is a bit clearer and my body has had a slight workout, I’ll take some deep breaths. I sometimes use my Headspace app to do 15 minutes of meditation, or a Yoga With Adriene guided yoga practice, but even just taking five minutes to focus on deep breathing makes a huge difference.
Have a mindful pamper session
I don’t mean spending a huge amount of money on a spa day (although if you have the means, go for it). I might just take particular care with my evening skincare routine, making sure to massage my face thoroughly, and enjoy it. You could even get some extra moisturiser on those fingers and toes and give them a little pit of attention.
Make sure to eat something
I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten through a day of studying for exams and realised my drink bottle is still full and I haven’t eaten anything all day. Oops. Instead of reaching for the chocolate (guilty!), make something warm and full of vegetables, and maybe finish it off with a cup of herbal tea. You’ll feel a lot better.
Finish the day with something you enjoy
Yes, I enjoy a lot of what I study, and I enjoy writing and taking pictures for my blog, but both of those things are still a lot of work. Instead, I’ll pick out an episode or two of a really good Netflix show, or cuddle up in bed with my hot water bottle and a new magazine. I’ll give myself a good 30-60 minutes to do what I enjoy, and then it’s lights out for an early night and (hopefully) a lot of productivity tomorrow.
How do you relax when you’re stressed? Leave a comment and let me know!