For many of us, studying or working from home has been even more stressful than actually going to school or the office. Suddenly, we have to adapt to stress being brought into our own relaxation space.
I, for one, remember the feeling of finally coming home after a long day and feeling as if the pressure has dropped off my shoulders. But now, during the pandemic, we wake up directly into our offices, we eat at work, we study in our bedrooms and we relax next to the piles of papers due the next day. Sounds like a handful, huh? Here are some underestimated tips that can help relieve stress.
1. Choose one place to work in
I know that finding space for work inside our homes may be a bit overwhelming, especially when living in smaller apartments. But this aspect is extremely overlooked.
By just throwing together a desk next to your bed may actually not be as practical as it seems. Harvard’s Healthy Sleep website advises keeping laptops, TV’s and papers out of the bedroom as much as possible, because that helps the brain associate the bedroom with sleep and relaxation more efficiently.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Better sleep means less stress. This will also help with your productivity levels at work/school too.
2. Make time for yourself
Feeling like you don’t have time for anything is a common “symptom” of a great deal of stress. Deadline for this, finish that, call whoever, write that thing now!!! Ugh, we all know what it’s like to be so pressured by time and tasks.
But the first thing that we have to remember is that we do indeed have time for everything. Reminding yourself that you have time can be hard to turn into a habit, but it helps. The next step would be to actually do something for yourself, to practice some self-care.
For instance, last January I started going to the gym. I was approaching the exam session and started feeling like I don’t have any spare minutes. But after starting to work out, I realized that in fact, it wasn’t time itself that was a problem, but my own perception of time.
Now, after almost two months of regularly going to the gym, I’m way more relaxed, I finish what I have to do on time and I also take more care of myself.
3. Yes, it is legal to take a break
In all this spiraling madness, it can be hard to remember that we have needs and we get tired. Taking a break once in a while is normal. It actually should be more encouraged. Plan ahead and ask for a PTO (Personal Time Off) day if you feel overworked.
In fact, the consequences of working non-stop are very dangerous. Have you heard of burnout syndrome? According to the World Health Organization, burnout syndrome is defined as such: “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.
It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy. Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.” Yeah, ugly business. Avoid it, take a break!
4. Progressive muscle relaxation
This is a practice that I have discovered fairly recently and the result are incredible. It helps you fall asleep faster and better, relax and ease stress. Here’s how you do it. Lay on your bed in a comfortable position, preferably on your back.
Then, focus on relaxing every muscle in your body from the tips of your toes to your forehead. Do this until you fall asleep or until you feel extremely relaxed. I usually do this at night to get a good night’s sleep. Works like a charm every time.
5. The power of the word “no”
A lot of people like to be as available to others as possible. Everyone loves being needed and helpful, but a lot of the time, we forget about our own need to be helped. It is important to prioritize your tasks and focus on the task you have at hand, so if you can’t make time for anything else, it is ok to say “no”.
Also, say “no” to things that you don’t like or don’t feel like doing. Don’t get too much on your plate and don’t force yourself to do certain things that are unpleasant to you. This can also cause stress. Establish boundaries, prioritize and pay attention to the way you want to spend your time.
Cheers to less stressful days! Yey to self-care! Hurra to productiveness!