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.

Light Links: September (+ October Intentions!)

Hi lovely readers. I’m going to mix it up with this last post of the month.

Along with the regular Light Links, I’m also going to look forward to the next month and set some intentions (I love this word over ‘goals’ - thanks Jess Lively).

Then at the end of each month we’ll recap and see how I did. Sound good? Ok, let’s go...

October Intentions

Cut off technology at 10pm (and read hard copy books)

So my reminders plan was going along brilliantly, but since I finished my last hard copy book, I’ve been a little lost after 10pm and have either been reading on my Kindle app or (let’s be honest) perusing the internet again.

This month I’m going to pick some books to replace the internet habit and wind down before bed without a screen.

This time last year...

This time last year...

Enjoy the daylight

Spring has rushed into Melbourne and I’m noticing the longer days more than ever before. I think because our new house has lots of natural light, it’s more obvious than in previous years.

I’m planning on sitting on our balcony or in our courtyard with a glass of wine after work as often as possible in October. 

Revel in upcoming events

I have some exciting plans for October - things I booked in months ago that are now almost upon me. It’s my birthday, I’m going to Soulfest and I’m spending a biennial weekend away with all the women in my family. I really connected to Laura Vanderkam’s post on how to make time slow down. This month I want to enjoy the moments I’ve been anticipating for so long and remember Laura’s quote:

“For the door does close, and eventually I will look back on all of this. Even happy moments bear in their shadows this melancholic reality. All moments, good or bad, are finite. All you can do is deepen your experience of them.”

September’s Light Links

And for those who enjoy my favourite links of the month, here they are for September.

Some measures to help you get to your higher self

It is 100% worth getting organised Friday afternoon for the week ahead: 

A fascinating article on intuitive eating and the intrinsic need to control

Anyone else struggle with being an adult some days

And finally, don’t forget to let go of perfection. 

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.