5 tips for keeping stress at bay

1. Get plenty of rest

Sleep is so underrated. And, yet, so powerful. For any insomniacs reading this, I truly feel bad for you. It must be awful to never achieve a good nights sleep and I hope that you manage to find some relaxing coping mechanisms that get you through. For the majority of the population, we do manage to get some sleep, but it’s still not enough. Living in the northern hemisphere the summer nights are long and unless you invest in some good blackout curtains then the nights are very, very long. Going to bed early, no caffeine after midday, electronic shutdown at least 2hrs before bed and making a concerted effort to BE in bed even if I’m not sleeping by 11pm latest helps massively. Stress happens, it’s a fact, but equipping yourself with energy and the best mood possible will ensure you’re able to deal with it and manage the impact it has on your life. A tired mind and body makes this a lot harder than it needs to be.

 

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Not your friends, when looking for the land of nod.

2. Drink lots of fluids

And by this I mean water, mainly. Just anytime you can spend drinking do it. Staying hydrated can stop you from unnecessary snacking, feeling fatigued and feeling stressed. At work, the stress may be rising but keep cool and keep things under control – go for a walk to the kitchen/staff area and drink up!

3. Phone a friend

Checking in with your nearest and dearest ensures you keep you feet on the ground and allows you to put things into context. That really stressful situation you’re going through might be solved by talking candidly to a friend. They might have been going through the same thing or can offer you advice. They might also tell you to get a grip and look at the issue in another way. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh, in relaxed, chilled surroundings and shake off your troubles… it really is the simple things in life!

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One of the most relaxed cafes – Hawkshead, Lake District

4. Goodbye midweek drinking, hello morning run!

Simultaneously reducing your alcohol intake and upping your physical activity can make a world of difference. It might be the last thing you want to do on a rainy morning at 6am, but getting up early and getting out for a run will boost your mood, reduce your stress levels and increase your fitness overall. It’s life’s free gym and you only have yourself to compete against. Running has changed my life. I feel fitter, happier because I’m more comfortable in my own skin and less stressed at what life throws at me. Aside from the endorphins, the running gives me an hour of space to myself to think about the day ahead and organise my thoughts. It also allows me to process any difficult situations and find solutions. Give it a go for a couple of weeks and see if you notice any difference…

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Keep drinking to the weekends or special occasions. it might de-stress at the time but the morning after won’t forgive you…

5. Make lists

My life feels like a long list. Even this blog post is a list! But, seriously, if I know I’m up against a stressful day then a list can just make everything seem less daunting and more orderly. Even the illusion that I have some level of control is better than the madness of a typical day where I’m blindly trying to balance my time with work with socialising.

I find this tip particularly helpful on a Sunday at about midday when I’m starting to feel the Monday blues creep in. I grab a pen and a cute notepad – who says practical can’t be pretty! I note down under two columns the things I need to do to ensure a sane start to the week. The first column is a list for work and the second a list which covers personal life, like items I need to post, or collect and people I need to get in touch with. In addition, I give each of these items a number 1 for “priority” or a number 2 for “important but the world won’t implode if this isn’t done today” status. I try not to begin the 2s until I’ve taken a good stab at the 1s. Usually, most work items are under 1 but I still manage to squeeze in some real-life business – it’s important too!

How do you keep stress at bay?

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A helping hand

A lesson in acceptance and giving yourself a break

Since beginning work in a high-pressure environment, I have realised that so many young professionals, myself included, are breaking their backs every week to maintain the image of these perfect all-rounders who can hold down brilliant jobs, transform into domestic goddesses and maintain a vibrant social life which never impacts negatively on their figure or gives them bags under their eyes. This ‘image’, more often than not, is self imposed – and I’m as guilty as any. It’s easier said than done when fighting against this idea that all young professionals, and women in particular suffer from this, are able to attend 6am gym classes x5 weekly, furnish their penthouses immaculately with BoConcept furniture and have mastered Michelin star level cooking.

There are however ways around the madness of a busy work-life clash. A couple of tips colleagues and friends have given me along the way have ensured that life outside of the office doesn’t slip through the cracks and you can keep yourself sane.

 

Looking after yourself

There is no short cut way to truly looking after yourself other than finding a good work-life balance where you can manage your stress levels properly. There are, however, some helpful tricks that can make the morning rush less frantic and allow you some more ‘me time’ before the world comes at you.

Eyelash and eyebrow tinting. This one means that for roughly 4-6 weeks you don’t need anything other than a light sweep of foundation and lipstick before you leave home in the morning. If you’re someone who feels that they have to have more make-up on then this might not be the best tip for you, as you’ll probably make-up over eyelashes and brows in any case, but if you’re like me and unfailingly lazy when it comes to make-up then this one’s for you!

Hair care. Personally, I find that since growing my fringe out and allowing my hair to get longer, time spent on my hair has reduced. There’s no frustrating tidy up of the fringe and less need to style longer hair overall as it can be tied back on a bad hair day. Also, living in the UK where it rains a lot means that however you left your home in the morning will not translate exactly to the look you are pulling off as you walk into work. Hairspray and dry shampoo are very helpful.

Gel nails. These are good if you can commit to getting them re-done properly every 2-3 weeks, but it’s a great way to avoid chipped nails and having to re-paint in the morning – because you did them too close to bed time and they have the fabric imprint across the varnish. Bravo!

 

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A quick fix hair and make-up solution can save time and you’ll still feel great!

 

Looking after your home

We can’t all afford domestic staff, so unless you are able to pay for a cleaner to come on a weekly basis (I’m not judging anyone here, I have been SO tempted to call for help in this area, a weight is lifted and you’re giving someone employment) then you need to get your domestic chores down to a finely tuned art. There are ways of doing things around the home which are cost free and time saving. I’ll post an article on this shortly which goes into more detail on how the busy professional can score a few hat tricks at home! But for now, my top tips are as follows…

  1. Dedicate one evening a week to blitzing your flat – dust, hoover and disinfect toilets etc. I normally opt for a Friday as weekends are usually when I have people over and this saves me waking up at the crack of dawn on Saturdays before they come round. Also, if you life in a flat and you have to hoover in the evening your neighbours are less likely to be in and more likely to forgive a quick Friday blitz rather than a mid-week headache.
  2. Food shop online and get home delivery – you spend less money because most supermarkets will save your shopping list preferences so you don’t do that thing where you aimlessly wander the aisles chucking in a few extras, ahem. You also buy yourself a lot of time with this one.
  3. Fake flowers. Yes, the real ones are nice and they smell lovely, but it’s just something else to remember to throw away before they go mouldy. You can get some really authentic looking ones that don’t appear too trashy. Alternatively, cacti. Although these are just like flowers that die really, really slowly.
  4. Get a good dishwasher. The root of 90% of the arguments in our flat is around the subject of unwashed dishes. A good washer will avoid this and any other stress related to plates stacking up. You don’t have time, you don’t have the emotional stability by Thursday to go through another round of ‘whose turn is it’, just get it sorted.
  5. De-clutter x4 a year. It doesn’t need to be more than this if you’re serious about it each time you do it. You don’t want to be rummaging around in drawers at 6am in the dark looking for another black top – and by the way, when was the last time you saw that, has it been washed and where did you hang it? Cutting back on clothes you don’t wear, general bric-a-brac and ‘stuff’ will help you see clearer and have better access to the essentials as you fly out the door in the morning.

 

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Even the most lethal among us have to make an effort to kill cacti, a good option for those without green fingers.

 

Looking after life-admin

My mobile banking app has been the BEST thing that’s happened to me this year. Monday to Friday I’m too busy out making the money to actually manage where it goes, and as Monday to Friday coincides with banking hours then this can make keeping on top of your finances a bit tricky. The last time I went for an appointment at the bank I had to book a morning off in advance with 3 weeks notice! So, being able to transfer money, pay people back and move wages into savings accounts whilst walking to work is a massive benefit.

Opening your mail is one sure fire way to face up to all the business you’ve yet to get round to – which might be the main reason why my post piles up on tables dotted around my flat before I wonder why there are no more clear surfaces. Facing up to the post as it comes in is the best, and really only, way of dealing with it before it gets out of hand. To motivate yourself, think about it this way: that could be an outstanding bill (or, less likely but still possible, you might have money owed to you and this is a notification of such joy!), an important change to your current situation (speaking from experience I have allowed overpriced home and contents insurance to roll over for another year because I didn’t open my post in time – NEVER AGAIN!) or sometimes just a letter or a card from a friend – this would just be rude if you didn’t open this kind of mail in a timely manner!

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Finally, relax! We all mess up, we have all gone to work looking less than our best and we’ve all been that person who is frantically trying to hide dirty laundry and plates in cupboards and under beds before guests arrive. The only pressure you should ever feel to manage any of the above aspects is from yourself. So, give yourself a break and learn to accept that you are perfect already! Everything else is just details…

Do you have any tips for making life easier in the mornings or dealing with life admin? Please share below in the comments.

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