1. Set Clear Boundaries
Setting clear boundaries with others, either at work or at home, will help you and others to work or live together harmoniously. It might not always seem possible to set such boundaries at work, but there are small ways that you can implement boundaries.
You might be able to switch off your work emails on your smartphone, therefore restricting contact with work to when you are actually at the office.
If you work remotely, you could switch off your emails or work phone on weekends and evenings, or even outline your working hours in your email signature.
2. Start the day your way
It might seem that the day just gets away from you. From the moment you wake up, you are living by someone else's agenda. You might wake up and check social media or the news, check your emails, and get to work straight away.
A small but easy step to take is to make sure that you at least start the day on your terms. Carve out a window at the start of your day for a bit of me-time.
Whether this means waking up earlier or starting work later, is up to you.
When you wake up, before checking your phone or emails, take some time for yourself. Eat a nice breakfast, have that cup of tea (and actually remember to drink it), maybe do a bit of journalling, reading, meditation, yoga, and so on. The last thing that you should do before checking your phone or email, is to set yourself a few tasks for the day. These are tasks that you want to get done.
As soon as you check your email, you will no doubt be inundated with tasks to add to your growing to-do list. But be sure to prioritise your jobs. If you don't prioritise your life, someone else will - remember that!
3. Focus on what you can control
It's easy to feel like you have no control over your life, and that things are getting away from you. Maybe work is moving too fast, maybe your struggling to keep up at school - whatever it is, it feels like it's never ending and you just can't keep up.
Take a moment to really think about the situation. Break the situation down into smaller chunks. What can you actually do and what is outside of your control?
Perhaps you have an exam coming up. What can you do? You can create a study schedule, talk to your teachers, study with friends, go to the library, hire a tutor, make sure you're resting enough. What is outside of your control? The date of the exam, knowing the questions that will be on the exam.
So, when you actually break it down, there is actually a lot that you can do, and a lot that is in your control.
Setting a structure to your day, week, or lifestyle can be immensely helpful in reducing stress. IF things feel like they are spinning out of control, the best way to get them back is to build structure into your life. This is especially true if you work from home.
If possible, decide what time you will start and finish work, and try to stick to it. Try not to work all hours of the day. It's good, for your career, to be flexible to the needs of the company, but ultimately, it is bad for your mental health.
Alongside this, build into your structure things that will boost your mental health, such as exercise, socialising, time away form your desk, holidays, and so on.
Although eating healthily is brilliant at reducing and combating stress, I am talking about technology detoxes.
Nowadays, we are guilty of being overly attached to our phones and laptop, and I am as guilty as anyone else.
Try to set rules around technology within the family, i.e. no phones at the dinner table, set times when phones won't be used such as movie nights, Sunday dog walks, and so on. It is important to ensure that we are connecting with the real world and the people physically around us, as much or more than we connect with social media.
6. Ask 'What if?' but don't discriminate
A lot of the time we are told not to ask ourselves 'what if?' because the end of that questions is almost invariably bad. 'What if I fail?', 'What if I look like an idiot?', 'What if no one likes me?'
It can be incredibly difficult to stop asking yourself these questions, as they have often become automatic thoughts - popping into our head before we can catch them.
If you can't stop yourself from asking these questions, I would urge you to be fair in what you are asking yourself. Every time you ask yourself a negative 'what if?', ask yourself a positive one too. 'What if it all goes to plan?', 'What if my boss likes my idea?', 'What if the meeting goes well?'
It might take some effort to ask yourself the positive 'what ifs', but the more you do it, the more it will become second nature.
7. Take a deep breath
Taking a deep breath has an immediate effect on our cortisol levels, which can help to reduce both stress and anxiety. This is a quick and easy way to reduce stress, but to take it even further, you could look into mindfulness, meditation, or yoga - which would have a much larger impact on your overall stress levels.
As always, if you would like to book an initial counselling session with me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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