As the new year begins, you may be feeling a little overcommitted. Going back to work after the holidays, trying to keep whatever resolutions you made on New Year’s, maybe trying to lose a couple of kilos after all the Christmas parties…it’s easy to get into a downward spiral of overwhelm. This week, we’ll focus on strategies to keep yourself centred and stress-free so you don’t burn out before January ends!
- Spend time in nature
Research shows that getting outdoors, whether it’s going on a hike or strolling through a botanical garden, has measurable therapeutic effects. It reduces obsessive, negative thinking and even helps prevent depression and other mental illnesses.
- Limit your vices
Cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, all of these things increase your blood pressure and raise levels of cortisol (commonly known as the “stress hormone”). They might make you feel better in the short term, but they’re working against you in the long term so find strategies to minimise them. A drink now and then is fine but there are no benefits to cigarettes and drugs (arguable depending on what you use).
- Learn how to say no
Overcommitting yourself is a surefire way to stress yourself out. Maybe it’s taking on an extra unnecessary project at work. Maybe it’s going to a party when you really should be getting some sleep. Just remember, you only have one life, and you shouldn’t waste it by living on other people’s terms.
- Get regular exercise
It’s been proven time and time again that physical activity does wonders for the mind. It reduces tension, improves the quality of sleep, and releases endorphins that elevate your mood. You’ll feel healthier, more energetic, and less anxious just by getting off the couch for a while. (Bonus points if it’s in nature—see point #1!)
- Eat balanced meals
Get your carbs from fruits, vegetables, eat healthy fats from sources like avocado and coconut oil, and opt for plant proteins and grass-fed meats. Try not to skip meals so you’ll have sustained energy throughout the day.
- Chunk it
Break tasks down into small chunks and take them one at a time. Big projects seem much more overwhelming when you’re staring the whole thing in the face. Think of it like cleaning a house: it has to be done one room at a time, and even those rooms can be split into smaller areas. This strategy makes every job seem more manageable.
- Go to bed earlier
Getting enough sleep is a critical battle in the war against stress. Without it, our brains don’t have a chance to recharge. Try cutting back on an hour of TV time or video games in the evening. If you have trouble falling asleep, take a natural supplement like tryptophan to help you drift off.
If you try all these tips and still feel like pulling your hair out, take a few deep breaths and try to keep everything in perspective. The world won’t explode if you miss one deadline. Leave a little time for yourself and have some fun; that’s what life is for.
By T Cho,
Christ & Co.