I’m going to be inflammatory: 2020 has been rubbish so far. Okay, perhaps that statement isn’t inflammatory but just the cold, hard truth. Whether you’re in business, you’re employed, you were one of the casualties of the pandemic and you’re out of work, you’re a carer…the coronavirus has certainly sapped a lot of fun from our lives.
The stress for many of us, over whether we’ll lose our jobs or our businesses, has been incredibly acute, and we still don’t know the full impact of the pandemic as we’re still trundling our way through it. The worry over our health and the losses of loved ones due to the virus have ramped up the pressure exponentially.
With so much uncertainty and restrictions on our lives, what can we do to release some stress or turn our thoughts into more positive ones?
Here are our five tips:
You don’t have to start lighting incense sticks or dance round trees whilst chanting—though, if these things work for you, go for it.
Meditation or simple mindfulness techniques can be done from your desk, from a quiet corner or outside your place of work in a leafy space. Take 10 deep breaths and concentrate on enriching your senses. Which sounds surround you?
Feel the different textures of things in your vicinity, e.g. the roughness of the paper in your notepad, the leaves on the trees, the fabric of your trousers/skirt. What aromas can you smell? Really savour the taste of your tea or coffee.
You may not be able to change a stressful situation, but taking ten minutes out to gather yourself, to interact with tangible objects, and to give your brain a rest from the worry, can recharge your energy and help you deal with the issue at hand.
Gratitude journals are a wonderful tool for many people. When you’re having a bad day and you feel the universe is conspiring against you, you don’t need to start a new habit just to feel better about life.
Take a piece of paper and jot down things you’re grateful for—whether they occurred that day, that week or whenever. We frequently focus on what’s wrong with our lives and forget the good.
You may be thankful for your family, your health, having a roof over your head, your education, your circle of friends, a hobby, your kindness to others, your sense of humour, the fact you managed to get a parking space that morning…whatever.
It doesn’t take away the challenges of the day, but it may help you put them into perspective.
There are lots of studies around our connection with nature. When we’re caught up in a busy time at work, we may feel as if we’re just going to the office, coming home to sleep and going back again, with no breaks in-between.
Just a few minutes in a green space can increase the pleasure chemicals in our brains and reduce our stress levels. The fresh air will also have a beneficial effect.
It may be easier when you’re rushed off your feet to eat lunch at your desk; if you qualify for a dinner hour, take it and go for a walk outside. Otherwise, it’s no wonder that you may feel like you’re chained to your desk.
Without regular breaks, from both physical and mental aspects, you could be at risk of burnout. No one on their deathbed wishes they’d worked more; if you’re earning enough that your basic needs are met (i.e. food, water, shelter and clothing), you have all you need and anything else is really just a bonus.
One thing you will never get enough of is time…is the stress you’re encountering worth the outcome?
When life becomes monotonous, it could be because your growth has dwindled.
We’re built to constantly learn new things; however, our self-development and the growth of our soul often gets pushed aside or put on pause when things are busy. This isn’t good for our mental health, our self-esteem and our intellect.
Even when it feels as if you haven’t a minute, consider reading a non-fiction/self-help book, sign up for a weekly class to learn a new skill, or watch a documentary on a subject of interest.
There is always time to fit in an hour of self-development a week. The reason why we don’t tend to do this is because we often work ourselves into the ground to the point of exhaustion, and when we arrive home, all we can manage is mindlessly scrolling through the internet or zoning out in front of the telly.
That’s not living, that’s just existing. And you’ll feel less equipped to change your current situation if you’re on the verge of burnout.
Doing something for yourself also helps you feel in control of your life when everything else around you may feel like it’s out of control.
Make someone else feel better
This may seem counter-intuitive if you’re the one in need of support; however, studies have shown that the feel-good vibes we get when we help others lift our own mood.
Give someone a compliment (one that’s meaningful and heartfelt), buy a colleague a luxury coffee for no reason, or pay the order for the stranger in the queue behind you at the sandwich shop.
These aren’t huge things, but the difference you could make to a fellow human being will be huge, which will, in turn, make you feel like a giant.
If you don’t feel you could action any of the things above, just remember that this day will pass. Even 2020, eventually, will pass. Covid-19, at some point, will no longer be the threat we know it as today. Life always goes on.
Do you have some more tips? Tweet us at @intheknowemag
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