Stress Awareness Month, taking place in April, has been raising awareness of causes and remedies for the modern stress epidemic since 1992. We’ve previously written about stress and why it is a condition that should be taken seriously, and not simply accepted as part and parcel of a career in law. Avoiding stress altogether is easier said than done, but there are some simple things you can do each day to stop stress building up over time.
Write a to-do list
You probably already have everything mapped out on devices – reminders, calendars, ideas boards, and so on and so on – but nothing brings clarity to the mind better than a good old fashioned hand written list. The act of writing something down brings a sense of action, is retained better in your memory and the writing is not surrounded by other distractions and functions that are present on your desktop and phone.
Many of these tips may feel like avoidance or time wasting activities when you’re under stress from time pressure and deadlines, but taking a small amount of time to yourself will actually make you more productive, so it is time well spent. Take a moment to remove yourself from the source of the stress, even if only for two minutes. Go for a walk to get some fresh air or just for a change of scenery to allow you to return in a better frame of mind to deal with the tasks in hand.
Take a music break
Indulge in some feel good music to retune your mind. Music to relieve stress doesn’t necessarily have to be calm and quiet, your own personal favourite genre or track is enough to make you feel like yourself again. If you are feeling particularly strung out however, choose music that has regular rhythm and structure, and incorporates natural sounds such as water and birdsong.
Stimulate your senses
Similarly, stimulating the five senses can help clear the cloud of stress. As well as listening to music, keep a fragrant flower or favourite perfume on your desk to smell (also the act of taking a deep breath helps to relax), look at favourite colour combinations or scenes of nature, take a square of dark chocolate or another preferred intense flavour, and share a hug with someone or pet your pet.
Clear a space
Time pressure often means physical organisation goes out the window. A cluttered desk really does mean a cluttered mind and will slow you down immensely, so take some time to tidy up. It also helps to do this digitally so close any unnecessary browser tabs and file away docs saved on desktop. Work through things one step at a time and open when you need them, don’t let them sit there as a daunting reminder!
Share a laugh
Being under stress can be a very isolating experience. We tend to keep our feelings inside out of pride and for fear of not showing the best side of ourselves to others. This often means that minor points of stress in our lives can feel bigger and more daunting, as we are dealing with them completely alone. Sometimes it helps to make light of these situations. Even the simple act of sending an instant message to a good friend in the moment (one who is likely to be able to empathise with your position!) is a reminder that you are not alone.