3 Ways To Destress In Any Situation

Signs of stress can express differently in different people.

For you it might be increased heart rate or a sinking feeling in your stomach. For others it’s feeling out of control with a scattered mind and loss of concentration.

Whether it be at work, home, or any other situation, here are my tips for regaining clarity in a stressful situation:

Realise they are only thoughts

Often when we’re stressed we feel like we’re letting someone down - our family, our boss, ourselves. But often we have no hard evidence of this and it’s simply a thought we’re having.

I’ve been loving delving into Brooke Castillo’s teachings recently and she constantly reminds us that our feelings are caused by our thoughts and our actions are caused by our feelings.

One more time:

Our feelings are caused by our thoughts and our actions are caused by our feelings.

Here’s an example.

The thought ‘I am falling behind on the housework because I’m too busy’ may bring feelings of inadequacy, stress and overwhelm. Our actions might then be to frantically try to clean the house (when we’re already tired) or to flop on the couch and beat ourselves up with more negative thoughts.

If we realise they are only thoughts and we can change our thoughts, this will often have a major effect on the reduction of stress.

So try reframing the thought - in the example above you might change the thought to ‘I’ve been really busy lately so I should have a quiet night. I’ll get to the housework when I have the space and time to do it.’

Get organised

Although the example above advocates ease, if you have the headspace, getting organised will often ease the stress going on around you. You might clean your desk at work and start a fresh to do list, or you might try some decluttering at home to free up space.

Once you’re coming from a clearer physical space, you can often see things afresh and start to deal with whatever was stressing you to begin with.

See people

AKA get out of your own head...

As mentioned in my first tip, the stress we feel is pretty much always caused by our thoughts. If we’re alone, with plenty of time to let negative thoughts take over, often the stress won’t dissipate.

Try going to an exercise class, catching up with a friend for coffee or going to lunch with coworkers.

The very act of talking to others about new topics will give you perspective and changing your environment will help reset the stressed feelings.

How do you deal with stressful situations? Let me know in the comments below.

The Top 5 Apps for Fun, Relaxation and Organisation

I know the media is hell bent on pointing out that devices are a time and attention span sucker and I can definitely relate to that idea.

But what about the positive aspects of devices?

They provide fun via games and social media, there are stacks of apps to help you keep organised and you can even relax via the many self-development apps out there.

So what are my favourite apps?

Snapchat

Tagline: Snapchat lets you easily talk with friends, view Live Stories from around the world, and explore news in Discover. Life's more fun when you live in the moment!

Reasons I love it

1. The filters appeal to my completely immature side (go try them!)

2. It’s fun to peek into other people’s days

3. It challenges you to be more creative via video

Feedly

Tagline: Organise, read and share what matters to you.

Reasons I love it

1. It aggregates content from all the blogs and websites I follow

2. It saves me time going to each individual site

3. It helps me find great articles to share with you readers!

Stop, Breathe & Think

Tagline: A free meditation app to help you be more mindful and compassionate.

Reasons I love it

1. It’s kept me accountable to meditation longer than any other app

2. The interface is super cute and easy to use

3. It motivates you with rewards and tracks the total time you’ve meditated (hello 9 hours + 36 mins for me so far!)

Kindle

Tagline: Read Kindle books on your computer, tablet, or mobile phone with Kindle reading apps.

Reasons I love it

1. Again the interface is super easy - you can bookmark, highlight favourite quotes and look up words in the dictionary as you read

2. I can sync it across devices so it always knows what page I’m up to

3. 1-click ebook purchases are amazingly easy (not sure if this is a pro or a con actually...)

Google Drive

Tagline: Get access to files anywhere through secure cloud storage and file backup for your photos, videos, files and more with Google Drive.

Reasons I love it

1. It’s replaced the Notes app for me as a place I can track any lists I’m using

2. I can put personal and work documents in the same place.

3. I can share docs with my husband so we can both update them

Let me know if you download any of the above apps. And, tell me, what are your favourites?

Time Management Series: Working From Home Effectively

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I love working from home.

Now.

For years I couldn’t find the sweet spot between productivity and comfort, but I’ve finally nailed it.

Any time I need to really dig into a project, whether it be a process document or a heap of files I’ve got to trawl through, I work from home. I also use the home office option if my to do list has grown out of control, and being in the office has turned into a sea of meetings, phone calls and desk visits.

Working from home also has the benefit of allowing you to function during business hours with the rest of the world. You know what I’m talking about - doctors that aren’t open late, tradespeople that need to come at 10am. Life admin waits for no one to get home from work.

If your workplace offers a working from home option, take advantage, either sporadically or on a regular weekly basis. But do take my advice before you set your alarm a little later and fire up your laptop at home.

Before you leave the office

Make a to do list

This step is incredibly important before you head home from the office. Yes, it’s all well and good to create one from home at the start of your day but that’s where things can fall apart. You don’t have someone’s contact details, you left a pile of papers on your desk, or the files are on a server you can’t access from home.

Spend 15-30 minutes creating your hit list before you leave work and make sure you have all the resources you need. Speaking of which…

Make sure your technology is robust

Nothing makes me want to weep quietly on to my keyboard more than slow VPNs, progress bars telling me it will be another hour before my file downloads, or watching the spinning wheel of death.


This is such an important tip. Before you leave the office, make sure you have easy access to all the files you need, via dropbox, USB, your work server if it’s fast enough - whatever it takes, please, please make sure the files you need are easily and quickly accessible.

Depending on your work setup, also make sure you trial connecting to internet and VPN at home before you schedule in your first day working remotely. It’s a huge time waster otherwise, and once you’ve got your setup, you’ll be set for future days at home.

On the day

Get dressed

Yes, you can enjoy the perk of sleeping in a little as you won’t have a commute, but make sure you shower, get dressed and do your minimum hair and makeup routine. Your subconscious will think it’s a Sunday otherwise and your efficiency will start to wane before you’ve even gotten started.

Don’t do errands and housework

Again, it is a perk of working from home to be able to do some jobs around the house, or pop up to the bank or post office, but I wouldn't dabble in this until you have your routine down pat.

Yes, you can put the laundry on but then you have to hang it out. Yes, you can do a quick vacuum but then you’ll be reminded you need to mop as well. Suddenly it’s 4pm and you've done zero work. Stay away from the housework. If you need to do errands, schedule them on your lunch break but then I’d rather recommend…

Go out for lunch

In a similar vein to falling prey to pottering and housework, it’s also easy to stay on the computer from dawn to dusk and wind up feeling bleary eyed and exhausted at the end of the day.

A perk I do enjoy when working from home is heading up to a local cafe and dining in, feeling like I’m connected to the rest of the world for an hour. Grab a takeaway smoothie or coffee once you’re done, and head back to your desk feeling refreshed.

Complete an end of day review

Around 30 minutes before the end of your day, complete a workload review. Not only will this show you how much you’ve achieved that day but may also reveal some gaping holes in your plan. What couldn’t you get to because you needed to be in the office? What tasks were so much easier at home without distraction? This will help shape plans for future days working from home.

Did you find this post useful? Let me know in the comments below.


The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up (or How I Broke Up With 50% Of My Clothes)

 
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Jess Lively, one of my favourite bloggers and podcasters, recently recommended the Japanese book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

After moving into our new home almost a year ago, I've been planning a long overdue declutter - particularly of the boxes we haven't even unpacked yet. Oops. Jess and a few others had raved about the title, so I downloaded and read it in a couple of evenings last week. 

Abruptly, my plan to empty a few boxes in the spare room took on new life. I will disclaim this review by saying that there's some seriously weird stuff going on in this book. Marie is a 'cleaning consultant' who has been obsessed with tidying since she was a small child. She empties her handbag completely every night (what the?!) and believes we transfer energy as we stroke our clothes.

I'm clearly not into all aspects of the book, but the concept is that you 'tidy' or declutter your house by category, starting with clothes. You find every single item of clothing and place them in one area. Then you handle each piece of clothing and ask 'does this spark joy in me?' A little way out I know, but it's really saying: does this make me happy or give me positive feelings? 

The harsh reality. Am I a hoarder?

The harsh reality. Am I a hoarder?

This weekend I did it.

It took almost 3 hours but it was pretty amazing. I found it very challenging to start with. 'I've only worn this twice', 'I can't believe I'm wasting so many clothes', etc etc. Then as Marie points out, I thought:

To get rid of what you no longer need is neither wasteful nor shameful. Can you truthfully say that you treasure something buried so deeply in your closet or drawer that you have forgotten its existence?
the Keep pile on the left, and the discard/donate pile on the right. And the kitten in the middle!

the Keep pile on the left, and the discard/donate pile on the right. And the kitten in the middle!

I held each piece of clothing and thought 'joy or no joy?' The answer really does strike you quickly and intuitively, and for some items you know the answer before you even pick them up. My answers for many items I let go were:

'No, but it used to.'

'No, but it reminds me of our trip to XXX.'

'No, but I bought it to look like XXX.'

The order to review your clothing in is: tops, bottoms, jackets/coats, socks, underwear, bags, accessories, shoes. 

Marie also has a great way of folding (and recommends folding over hanging for most clothing). I was dubious at first, and will have to see how it goes for me in coming weeks, but the premise is that you can see all clothing at once and folding clean clothes to put them away makes you appreciate them and continue to review if they still bring you joy.

The end result and my first foray into a new folding style.

The end result and my first foray into a new folding style.

 

So my takeaways from my first life-changing tidying attempt?

  1. I was hanging on to a lot of stuff - figuratively and literally.
  2. Two of the garbage bags were for the bin, rather than for donation. If I can't even donate them, why am I keeping them?
  3. There's some freaking nice stuff in those donation bags, so I hope someone will benefit.
  4. Do you know how freeing it is to know you'll never put your foot into a sock with holes again? 

Stay tuned for my next round of tidying - books. As an avid reader and former editor who has been building a library for many years, I am truly afraid.


How I found an extra 2 1/2 hours in my day

 
LEFB

I’m participating in the Blog Party for Sage Grayson’s Life Editing for Beginners program. In this 5 week group program, you’ll learn the Life Editing Process and how to delete bad influences, add good habits and routines, and rearrange the parts of your life into a perfect flow.

During the course you get daily emails, stacks of videos and worksheets, 5 weekly interactive webinars, a private Facebook group and weekly challenges. Click here to sign up.

 I’m a Life Editor…and so are you! Keep reading to see how Life Editing for Beginners improved my life.

 

The lovely Sage.

The lovely Sage.

I was struggling with the flow of my day to day life before starting Life Editing for Beginners. Every day was full – work hours, yoga, time with friends and family, exercise, housework, cooking – a little too full maybe! I felt like I was ticking everything off the to-do list but it was never quite enough or there was always another item waiting to be done. This course really taught me about structuring my days in the way I want them to play out and creating a balance so I’m not just constantly adding more and more into my schedule, which is what I have a tendency to do. And as an editor by trade, Sage's course seemed destined to work for me!

LEFB has lots of great worksheets, but the time log worksheet was one of the most useful and important for me. After completing my time log for a few days, I realised up to TWO AND A HALF hours of my spare time is spent on the internet. Shame! No wonder I was feeling overwhelmed by the other things on my to-do list. One habit I’ve implemented since the course is not using social media after 9pm at night. By creating this white space (as Sage would call it), once my ‘mandatory’ to-dos are done, I can spend time reading, taking a bath, watching my favourite shows, spending time with my husband and working on my blog.

I’ve also implemented gratitude into my daily routine – I have a reminder in my phone to stop mid-afternoon and think of five things I’m grateful for. During hectic, sometimes erratic work days, I've found slowing down for a couple of minutes hugely helpful. Gratitude forms the foundation of the course and helps me stay grounded when I’m working on rearranging other, larger aspects of my life.

 

The five steps of Sage's Life Editing process. Gratitude falls under foundation.

The five steps of Sage's Life Editing process. Gratitude falls under foundation.

There are so many highlights to the course – the group calls, Sage’s videos, the Facebook group full of like-minded women. I’d really recommend this course to help you review how your daily life is tracking, something I think all of us can use. Now I’m working on entrenching my new habits and planning a review of the Life Editing process every quarter to keep me on track and help me adjust easily to any new circumstances. Thanks Sage! Here’s the link to join up to this great course: http://sagegrayson.com/life-editing-beginners/