Times have been tough and, for some, stress levels have been at an all-time high for some time. Both our physical and emotional wellbeing have been put to the test, and we might not have had enough time or energy to practice any self-care or relaxation.
We’ve built a list of seven simple ideas to ease stress and help to create an environment for your emotional wellness to thrive. Each tip can be weaved into your daily routine if, when and however you see fit.
1. Smart goals
A great way to break down you big goals into five bite-sized categories — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-related — to help make targets doable.
Each weekend, carve out 15-20 minutes to work out your goals for the week ahead and break them down into each category.
Start with a few goals that reflect what you want to do, not what you think you should do. Write them down somewhere that you can tick off when you have completed them. Ticking off completed goals is a great way of seeing how much you’ve achieved and boost your mood if you’re feeling low.
Here are few things that we have been ticking off our list: workout three times per week, have a bath once this week, walk 10,000 steps every day, read a chapter a night, turn off your phone after 8pm, meditate for five minutes a day.
Mindfulness is something that we have all heard about, but are we really practicing it in our daily lives? Here are a few ways that you can weave it into your daily routine:
- Morning: Try to wake up 20 minutes before your household to practice. If that’s not feasible — and we know how hard it can be — practice this while you’re in the shower or while your morning coffee brews. Count to four as you breathe in and four as you breathe out. Repeat while you scan your body, focusing on how your toes and feet feel, moving up the legs, hips, back, shoulders, arms, neck, face, jaw and head. If you have a few extra minutes once you have scanned you whole body, begin counting your breaths; one count for each breath in and out.
- During the day: The trick to being mindful during the day is remembering to practice while you are busy. Whether you’re buried deep in work, making lunch for the family or simply popping to the toilet, bring your mind into the present by asking yourself what you can see, smell, feel, taste or hear.
- At night: When the kids are tucked in and you finally have some time to yourself, make sure you’re really spending it on yourself. The small act of taking pleasure in lighting a candle, getting comfy under a blanket, repeating your positive affirmations, or simply enjoying a few squares of chocolate, will bring you into the now. Try to spend your evening focused on the present and not worrying about tomorrow.
As the saying goes, “you are what you eat” and this refers to how food affects your body and your mind. Having a good diet can help boost your mood, help you think more clearly and give you more energy.
Here are a few tips that could help you along your food-mind journey:
- Eat regularly: three balanced meals a day will help you to stay away from the (sometime unhealthy) snacks.
- Eat a balanced diet: eating a mix of fiber, protein, ‘good’ fats and vegetables will help you maintain your energy levels throughout the day.
- Drink enough: water is great, but you can also enjoy herbal tea and diluted fruit juice to keep you on top of the recommended 8 glasses a day.
- Less caffeine: try replacing your coffee and tea with herbal alternatives or decaf options, but if it’s too hard, opt for no caffeine in the afternoon. This will help you balance your energy levels and sleep well.
Remember that any movement is good movement. Don’t be hard on yourself and remember that you are the only person who can take the pressure off your shoulders.
We have put together a 10-minute workout (click here) for those who are short on time. But if you have a little more time, it’s important to get your heart rate up. While running isn’t for everyone, try to explore your area by foot and add in a power walk if you want. Alternatively, enjoy an online hit class; there are a huge amount of YouTube videos out there that cater for every fitness level and any injuries you might have. The main thing with fitness is to try to enjoy it!
Sleep is a key to ease your stress levels. We all know the feeling of having had minimal sleep — it does no favors for mental health. So, it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene whenever you can.
Put your phone away and take a warm bath or shower an hour before you go to bed, use candles to create a relaxing environment, and go to bed when you’re tired. Or if you’re already in bed and struggling to get to sleep, try a visualization technique: count down from 100, visualizing each number is a calming environment. 99 is formed from crashing waves, 98 comes through the light through some leaves, 97 is in a pool of still water. And if this doesn’t work and you’re suffering from insomnia, the recommendation is to get up and do a household chore until you feel tired again.
6. Positive affirmations
Positive affirmations are mini mantras that you can repeat to yourself regularly. These affirmations reinforce ideas of what you are, who you want to be, and shed an encouraging and optimistic light on your emotional wellbeing.
While you are under pressure and feeling stressed, it can be helpful to remind yourself of why you are wonderful and what you like about yourself. Although it can be easy to be modest and shy away from saying good things about yourself, it’s hugely important to boost your self-esteem and to be able to practice self-love.
Talking about self-love, we are big advocates of becoming your own best friend, your loudest cheerleader and your own partner in life. Your confidence and positivity will then give way to clarity and a stress-free outlook.
Alongside positive affirmations, there are a few techniques to practice self-love.
- Make sure you check off your SMART goals or write down anything you had achieved in the week.
- Instead of giving yourself a hard time about your physical appearance when you look in the mirror, why not list all the things you love about yourself.
- Treat yourself regularly with the things you love in life. Whatever that means for you, make sure you enjoy it — you deserve it. We love chocolate, a Netflix series, wearing pajamas all day, or just a crisp glass of wine with dinner.