Stress comes from an ancient fight-or-flight response to life-threatening situations. Now, while the average person isn’t confronted with near-death experiences quite as often as our ancestors, we do still experience stress when in uncomfortable situations. The negative effects of stress on your mental and even physical health have been widely documented, especially over the course of the last month. Instead of re-hashing the same old points (stress is bad, it can contribute to chronic conditions like hypertension; also you might develop depression or anxiety issues, so try not to get stressed please everyone), I want to share my 5 top tips to combating stress anywhere. That includes on the tube…
1. The 60 second rule
Any time you’re feeling stressed, it’s good to just stop everything and let your mind go blank for 60 seconds or so. Try not to focus on anything in particular. If you’re listening to any music, it’s a good time to pause that and just enjoy the dulled sounds of your surroundings, uninterrupted. And if you’re worried that your colleagues might freak out, or that man on the tube might think you’re trying to hit on him, remember you can always close your eyes (unless you’re driving, please do not close your eyes for 60 seconds while driving).
2. Positive Affirmation
Now, this one might not work for everyone, but if you can come up with a 3-phrase mantra and say the words out loud every day, this can help contribute to success or a less stressful environment. As an example, my mantra is: I am strong. I am intelligent. I am important. Any time I get particularly stressed, or find myself confronted with a particularly difficult challenge, I like to repeat this to myself, which helps calm me down and clear my head so that I can think more clearly about the task at hand.
I am strong. I am intelligent. I am important.
Exercise has been proven to help lower stress levels, and is all-around good for you. So, next time you’re feeling particularly stressed, take a walk. If you’re in the office, a short walk to the bathroom, a pace around and then back is enough to help the stress melt away. If you’re cramped onto public transport, try clenching and unclenching your hands and toes. This effectively takes the stress and expels it, leaving you stress-free.
4. Just eat a banana
Bananas are high in potassium, which helps regulate your body’s blood pressure. So, while eating a banana might not necessarily relieve you of stress, it can help combat the negative physical effects of stress. Plus, bananas are super portable and delicious. Bake in bread, fry it… It’s all still banana at the end of the day!
5. Take a break
At the risk of sounding like a Kit-Kat advert, seriously, take a break. Put down the smartphone, step away from the computer screen (after you’ve hit the “like” and “follow” buttons, of course), and just take a break from social media and being “connected” for about 15 minutes. If you can do that every day, spending less and less time on your phone, you’ll be less affected by all the terrible awful things happening in the world and, in turn, much less stressed.
So there you have it! 5 ways to reduce stress, no matter where you are! Have you got any more tips to practice mindfulness and keep stress levels low?