To mark National Stress Awareness Day (Wednesday 1 November) here at HeX HQ, we’re being honest about how we deal with stress.
It isn’t rocket science but sometimes it’s easy to forget what’s best for you in the face of a long to-do-list. So here’s some suggestions from our team for managing those stress levels:
If I’m feeling stressed at work, it’s usually time to put my headphones on, put on some motivational music and just crack on with what I’m doing. Normally, working without distractions and being a tad more productive reduces any stress I’ve developed. If a certain task is stressing me out, unless absolutely essential, I normally move on and come back to it later – or ask one of the team for support (HeX has a great open-door policy too, so I can normally vent my stresses to someone!)
If I’m feeling a bit tense when I get home, there’s nothing that a brisk walk round the local reservoir won’t cure – or sometimes just relaxing on the sofa is enough!
Even though I can suffer with anxiety, what works for me when dealing with stress is focusing on the micro stuff every day and not worrying about the big picture, because I already know what that big picture looks like. I focus on winning each day by completing five key actions a day that keep me moving forward. I don’t focus on the week or the month, just the day. By winning each day by completing those actions, I can build up enough wins to win the week, the month and so on. Often people look solely at the big picture and get so stressed out that they miss doing the work each day that builds up to the big vision they have for themselves.
Like Ben, I like to talk through tasks or situations that are making me feel stressed – as I usually find that a colleague will have an idea or a key bit of info to help me resolve whatever was causing me bother!
I’m also a list-lover – if things are getting on top of me, I’ll do a handwritten to-do-list broken down into 3 categories: ‘To do now’, ‘To do later’ and ‘To do if I get time’, which helps me to refocus and set priorities. Worst case scenario, if I can’t get it all done by the deadline, I’ll rope in someone else to get things finished on time.
The things I know work well for reducing stress are going for a walk, getting some fresh air and mainly getting away from the computer. That said, I don’t always practice what I preach!
It’s good to talk as they say, and I do find that a team discussion, maybe followed by some delegation can work wonders at reducing stress levels. Outside of work, again it’s that fresh air that helps me relax – football, running, any sort of exercise is the best way for me to forget the strains of running my own business for a while.
As someone who is generally under some form of stress, it’s become important in my life to find ways to balance things out and help keep me on track and productive. Something I’ve found to be important to consider when trying to de-stress is understanding what’s caused the stress in the first place, as by doing that you’ve solved half the problem already. Another important thing to think about before trying to de-stress is how you react to certain things – by this I mean something which de-stresses one person might actually cause stress for another, so when attempting to reduce stress it’s important to put yourself into the equation. Something I’ve found helps me handle stress is spending time alone and working on a personal project. It doesn’t have to be any specific kind of work, as long as it’s something I can do alone which will let me recharge away from other people, and usually this means doing something creative like drawing, writing or even just preparing a meal.
When I find myself stressed or burnt out, which can often happen being a creative, I completely switch off from whatever situation is that is causing me stress. To do this I’ll most likely go to the gym, exercise has always been integral for me in times like this and is a hobby of mine. Other tactics would be to watch some tv or read a book.
I often find that switching off and focusing on other things allows me to approach whatever it is that causes me stress in a calmer state, allowing me to look at problems with a renewed positive state of mind.
I believe that stress is a self-fulfilling prophecy. In today’s society it is almost unacceptable to not be stressed. If you’re not stressed you’re clearly not doing enough, if you’re not doing enough, you’re lazy and if you’re lazy you don’t care. Wow – that is a lot of pressure to have on your head!
This also happens when you put yourself in competition with your peers. Concentrate on yourself and being the best person you can be, instead of getting into a mind games with the people around you. So I have tried as much as possible to stop that behaviour and allow myself the freedom to be honest with myself and the people around me.
Being honest and talking about your anxieties really does help to dispel the stress that has attached itself to these anxieties. Encourage openness in your world, and if you are surrounded by people that are bringing your energy down, remove yourself and find people who understand you.
You will spend more time worrying about something than just taking action and getting it out of the way so I say, just do it! Relieve yourself from the stress you put on yourself. For example, that conversation that you have practiced again and again in your head, go and have it instead of thinking about it. That little job that you have been putting off (the one that is like a little gremlin creating knots in your stomach), go and do it.
List the things that are making you anxious and deal with them, because you will feel better! Everything gets harder the more you toil over it. The reality is a lot easier to deal with than the made-up reality your mind creates. You will adapt to whatever changes come along.
Now, having said all of that (and don’t roll your eyes during my next sentence), I also support my body and my emotional state with my new-found love of essential oils. Now I don’t like the term ‘essential oils’ because it makes me think of an old lady with a wafting skirt and wind chimes, chuntering a mantra – not my style! But what I have discovered is that there are so many oils that help your body to deal with physical and emotional symptoms. And creating a blend to wear as a perfume every day helps boost my body’s circulation and enhance my self-belief. So I highly recommend you give it a go – what have you got to lose?
In the HeX office, we use oils for focus and if someone is feeling a little stressed, we diffuse a blend which sends signals to the brain to create happy chemicals. At the end of the day when I get home, I diffuse some relaxing scents into the air and the warming and comforting smell of home switches my working brain off and settles me for a good night’s sleep, in theory. Of course it doesn’t work all of the time… but a good book to distract me from my thoughts will always finish the job.
Your ‘stress’ is yours to control. You have a choice on how you react to a situation – choose to not be stressed and life will become easier.
Do you have different ways to cope with stress? Let us know what you think works, and join in the conversation using the hashtag #NationalStressAwarenessDay
Visit Mind for support around stress awareness and management.