The new year is just around the corner after one of the most challenging years of our lives.
Between the pandemic, local and national lockdowns, and a complete change in the way we go to school and work, it’s no wonder that it’s been one of the most stress-inducing years. According to Nuffield Health research, 80 percent of people reported that working and staying at home due to the coronavirus has negatively impacted their mental health.
Whether you’re starting a new semester at uni, a new job, or are just looking for ways to bring a sense of calm to your routine, we’ve compiled our best stress-busting tips below.
Identify Your Triggers
When it comes to reducing your stressors, it’s essential to get to the root of the problem. What’s stressing you out, and why? Ask yourself questions like:
- What makes me uncomfortable?
- When do I get worried? Why?
Once you’ve answered these questions, start to assess. Are there any patterns that you notice? Are there any situations that ‘trigger’ your stress? It’s not always possible to eliminate those triggers, but being mindful of what induces that pit in your stomach is the first step.
Stress has a long history of upsetting your REM cycle – making deep, restful sleep almost impossible. However, sleeping is one of the best things you can do to reduce stress. The experts at SleepScore Labs recommend following a regular sleep routine:
- Take time to relax: step away from phones and laptops for at least an hour before bed.
- Have a shower or bath: a warm shower or bath can work wonders to relax your muscles, making sleep effortless.
- Try a scent: certain scents, such as lavender or patchouli, can do wonders for helping you relax. Try an essential oil or tea with those ingredients.
Create Intentional Goals
It’s the beginning of a new year, which means that new goals and promises to ‘do better’ are all over the place. Don’t get us wrong, goals are great – but only if you approach them the right way. Experts at Gaiam have shared some of their best advice for goal-setting:
- Be specific: if you make your plan too broad, you may not achieve it. Instead of saying ‘I want to start running,’ say, ‘I want to run a half marathon.’
- Break it down: Once you’ve set that goal, it’s time to break it down. How will you achieve your half marathon? What’s your run schedule going to look like? Do you need to incorporate cross-training as well? When you break your big goal into smaller, actionable steps, you make it far more accessible.
- Tell your friends and family: accountability is an incredible motivator. Tell your friends and family about your goals. They’ll help you push through when you’re feeling down and cheer you on when you cross the finish line.
Make Self-Care a Priority
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our mental health. Like the pre-bed routine mentioned above, a self-care routine is a great way to make sure you head into the new year stress-free, according to student accommodation experts in Dublin. They’ve shared their favourite self-care activities below:
- Write down what you’re grateful for: when you notice and express gratitude, it can lower stress and boost resilience. Try writing down a small list of things you’re thankful for every day – even if it’s just coffee, wine, and Netflix.
- Connect with friends and family: connecting with other people is so vital to your mental health, and due to coronavirus rules and restrictions, it may have been a few months since you’ve seen any friends or family. Once a week, try to connect with a friend or family member over Facetime or Zoom. Or ring someone up and put them on loudspeaker – to avoid more stress-inducing screen time.
- Practice yoga: yoga is a well-established stress buster. There are plenty of free online channels to help you practice – Glamour UK has all the intel.
- ‘Tough love’ yourself: self-care isn’t all manicures and yoga. Sometimes, it’s about delayed gratification – getting organised for the week ahead, prepping your week’s meals, cleaning your flat, planning your exercise.
Feeling overwhelmed? The best place to start is at the beginning. So whether you begin with a goal-setting session or a nap, you’re well on your way to starting 2021 calm and refreshed.