Chances are when you ask someone how they’re doing, the most common response you get is that they’re ‘busy’, ‘up the walls’ or ‘stressed out’.
From longer work hours and juggling family commitments to ‘always on’ social media, we’re balancing more than ever. Unfortunately, high stress levels can lead to a host of physical and mental symptoms including anxiety, bad sleeping patterns, stomach issues, muscle pain and lack of motivation.
Look at it this way; anything will break down if you don’t give it a rest occasionally and your mind is no different.
Taking a few minutes out of your day (even when it seems you don’t have a spare one) can recharge your mind and make the rest of your duties seem a lot more achievable.
That doesn’t mean you have to sit chanting in a cross-legged position though, try these instead.
1. Start colouring
Take a tip from the kids and try colouring as a hobby. Adult colouring books have been a huge trend over the past year, with everyone from high-level executives to busy mothers taking out their markers after a long day.
Why does it work? Art has long been recognised as a therapy tool and essentially, you’re giving your mind a break from overthinking by concentrating on the activity at hand.
Regular colouring has been found to help with lowering blood pressure and training the brain to stay focused.
Many of us associate knitting with our grannies but it’s actually another great way to relax. The repetitive action of needlework is said to encourage a relaxed state similar to meditation and yoga and once you get your skills down, it can lower levels of stress hormone cortisol in the bloodstream.
Better still, you’ll have a lovely blanket/hat/jumper to show for your efforts.
3. Keep a journal
If you find your brain is still buzzing when you go to bed at night, why not try writing in a journal? Getting your thoughts on paper can be a great way to empty your mind and prepare for sleep.
A gratitude journal is another increasingly popular method and involves taking a few minutes each day to write down a few things that you’re thankful for or that make you happy.
Looking at your life in perspective can make the picture a much happier one.
4. Practice being mindful
Experts have long hailed meditation and mindfulness as an effective way to combat stress but ironically, it’s often the hardest thing to start if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
It may seem like a complicated notion but it essentially involves concentrating on the present moment.
Download an app like Headspace, which will lead you through the process.
5. Chew gum
This may sound a little random but bear with us.
A 2008 study found that chewing gum led to “lower levels of anxiety, increased alertness, reduced stress and improvement with multi-tasking”.
This is a great one if you’re busy as you can do it anywhere.
6. Get a pet
If the little ones have been hassling you to get a dog, it might be time to start listening.
Hanging out with a pet can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and help deal with anxiety.
It will also give you a reason to go for a walk each evening so you’re getting some exercise in as well.