The summer months are over. School has started, you’ve returned to work and it’s back to the daily grind. Even though during the summer you resolved to hang on to that relaxed holiday feeling, it’s easy to fall back into pre-summer routines and stress patterns. And that’s unfortunate, given the benefits of mental of physical fitness for you, your work and your family. What can you do to keep that relaxed feeling going? Here are five tips for keeping stress at bay for as long as possible.
1. Go for a walk
Taking a walk is often looked over by people who dislike exercise, but a daily walk can work wonders for your mental health. The bodily movement gets the blood flowing and this releases endorphins, allowing you to clear your head and come up with answers or better solutions. Walking also allows you to temporarily step away from your work and get those creative juices flowing. Of course, walking is a great physical exercise, too. Our tip? Try to incorporate a 30-minute walk into your daily work routine. Take a walk during lunch or, if you have a one-on-one meeting planned with a colleague, consider turning it into a walking meeting. Not only will you get in your 30 minutes of exercise while working, you will also notice that your meeting will be shorter, more creative and thus more efficient. This, in turn, will make you feel more relaxed mentally.
2. Get a good night’s sleep
Of course, we all have busy jobs, responsibilities, alarm clocks that seem to go off too early in the morning, and evenings that are too short. You probably go to bed late during your holiday, but you also get to sleep in in the morning, get a better night’s sleep, and maybe take afternoon naps under the parasol. If you want to stay fit, it’s important not to stay up too late and give your mind enough time to rest. Don’t drink coffee in the evening and switch off TVs and mobile devices (including your social apps!) 45 minutes before bedtime. You’ll notice that eventually you will not only fall asleep sooner; the quality of your sleep will also improve by staying away from these triggers.
3. Pick your moments
Prioritise your responsibilities and make time for each task, one at a time. This means that you can still answer your e-mails and phone calls every day, but only during dedicated time slots. This will not only allow you to focus on these tasks exclusively, you will also have lots of undivided time for other tasks, without that voice is your head telling you that there’s still so much to do or so many e-mails to go through. Planning your work will help you feel less overwhelmed during other tasks and reduce feelings of stress.
It’s also important to cut back on e-mails. Instead of spending an entire day e-mailing back and forth, have a face-to-face discussion with your colleague. It’s more efficient and sociable. Are you really expected to be available and respond to e-mails in the evening? No? Then log off your e-mail after working hours and block your work e-mail on your personal phone when you go home.
4. Be bored sometimes
Being bored is good for you. We allow ourselves to lounge about, sleep in and enjoy long breakfasts while on holiday. But once we get back to our daily routine, we find it very difficult to be bored. In fact, in an American study conducted in 2014, some respondents reported that they would rather actively hurt themselves than be bored.
As soon as we get back home, we use apps, social media and TV to fight boredom. Try not to do this for a while. Do nothing sometimes. Nothing at all. This can be very difficult at first. So simply start with the 4-7-8 technique: breathe in through the nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds, then exhale through the mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat this cycle a couple of times. This may feel uncomfortable or even a little over the top, but you will notice that eventually you’ll be able to use this technique to quickly relieve stress.
5. Recharge your battery
There’s nothing wrong with lying on the sofa feeling exhausted after a busy day. It can even be a satisfying experience. A bit of stress can be a good thing; it’s what helps you cope with hectic days. The problem starts when you’re unable to recharge your battery after such days. Therefore, it’s important to take time for yourself. Read a book, spend some time in the garden, visit friends or go out to dinner with your partner. This may require a bit of effort and you may feel too tired to muster up the energy to go, but these moments help counterbalance the stress of our daily lives.
It isn’t always easy to relax and be aware of stress signals. On some days you will be more successful at keeping stress at bay than on others. Give yourself time to incorporate these five tips into your daily routine, and you’ll see that eventually you will feel better and become more stress resistant. You can do it!
Are you suffering from ongoing stress, physically or mentally? Then make an appointment to see your GP or consult a doctor through dokteronline.com.
MIND (undated). Tips bij werkstress (Tips to manage work-related stress). Consulted on 30 August 2019. https://wijzijnmind.nl/psychipedia/werkstress/tips-werkstress
Psychologie Magazine (2017, 8 November). Zelfzorg voor minder stress en meer werkplezier (Self-care for less stress and more job satisfaction). Consulted on 30 August 2019.https://www.psychologiemagazine.nl/artikel/zelfzorg-voor-minder-stress-meer-werkplezier/
De Volkskrant (2018, 19 January). Een ode aan de verveling: waarom het af en toe goed is niets te doen te hebben (An ode to boredom: why doing nothing is good sometimes). https://www.volkskrant.nl/wetenschap/een-ode-aan-de-verveling-waarom-het-goed-is-af-en-toe-niets-te-doen-te-hebben~bf054bd6/?referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F
Dokteronline.com (undated). Slecht slapen (Difficulty sleeping). Consulted on 30 August 2019.https://www.dokteronline.com/nl/slecht-slapen
Dokteronline.com (2015, 20 July). Waarom is wandelen gezond? (Why is walking healthy?) Consulted on 30 August 2019. https://blog.dokteronline.com/nl/waarom-is-wandelen-gezond/