Let me start by saying that you shouldn’t feel bad about being stressed. No matter everyone and their grandmother says, you’re human. Humans get tired. We run out of fuel, energy, willpower, and motivation, especially during the end of the day. This is especially true now that we live in an era where women are supposed to “have it all” – you know, a brilliant career, lots of money, and a happy family. The result is an unrealistic expectation, even from ourselves. Stress relief, therefore, is not an indulgence. It’s just common sense.
Turn off your gadgets. There’s this immense pressure to always be “on,” especially at a certain junction in life. You know the one: you’re trying to establish your career, while at the same time trying to build a family.
Having your laptop and phone always on makes sure you’re reachable 24/7. You may complain about late-night crisis emails, but admit it: you’re secretly relieved at the opportunity to be the one to solve the problem, because whoever needed your help might have gone to a different person instead, and you would have missed an opportunity to prove yourself.
This is a very dangerous way of thinking. You’re not just encouraging people to be dependent on you, you’re also not giving yourself enough time to recuperate from the stress of the day.
Set a time for a “blackout.” Turning off your gadgets sends an extremely definite signal to your brain that you can’t be reached, and therefore don’t need to be on the lookout. This gives you the space to unpack the day’s mental stresses, and simply breathe.
Work out. It’s been a long day, and I know you’ve spent the last hour at your desk fantasising about crashing on the couch, putting your feet up, reaching for the remote, and munching on some crisps. The urge is strong with this one, but that’s the last thing you should do.
Instead, work out. It doesn’t have to be an all-out, Insanity-type routine, and you don’t even have to lace up your trainers. Do some jumping jacks, squat thrusts, or burpees – anything to get your heart rate up for at least 15 minutes.
Working out makes your brain release endorphins, which are chemicals that make you feel happy. Not only that – vigorous activity also helps undo some of the damage done to your body by all those hours of sitting. Last but not the least, the simple act of working out will make you feel good about yourself, and who doesn’t want that?
Meditate. The word “meditation” is often associated with religion and spirituality, which makes a lot of people hesitate practising it. If you think of it as a tool, meditation becomes a way to train yourself to think more clearly. You know how it’s so much harder to think when you’re in a really noisy place? Meditating helps you ignore the million niggling worries and distractions in your brain so you can focus on what really matters.
Sit in a place where you can stay undisturbed for at least 10 minutes. Cross your legs, close your eyes, and breathe slowly. Focus on your breathing — the rhythm should lull you into relaxation. While enlightenment likely won’t happen right away, you will at least have given your brain some space to breathe and recover.
Plant. There’s something about plants that’s very soothing. Maybe it’s the way they’re always grounded (heh), or the way they just sit there in their little pots, not judging you, not evaluating your performance, not yelling at you to give them their toy now, now, now!
But seriously. There’s something incredibly gratifying about putting something in the ground, watering it, and watching it grow. It provides a sense of achievement. And while it may not be the kind that directly affects your chances of a promotion, it may just be the boost you need so you can perform better at work.
And if they die? It’s not a big deal. They’re just plants. How’s that for stress relief?
Soak. Try to keep it simple and fuss-free: fill your tub with hot water and just sit there in silence for 15 minutes. Of course, you can throw in a bath bomb, light a candle or two, and play soft music if you want. It’s up to you – this is your time.
You can do this before going to bed (it’ll help you sleep better), or if you come home early from work (goodness knows it’s often another battlefield at home if you have young ones).
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