It’s true-there’s too much to do in September. We’re often adjusting to new work and school schedules, struggling to accept that summer is over and being hard on ourselves when things don’t go to plan. All in all, this month can be really stressful and leave you feeling like you have too much on your plate.
Moreover, I’ve felt that my world hasn’t been as orderly, calm and naturally paced as I’d like it to be. I’ve been overwhelmed with job hunting, searching for a great place to live, and networking, all of which happened right after I moved to a new country. With my family on the other side of the Atlantic, I’ve had to brainstorm new ways of managing stress. Here are 15 quick and effective ways to I’ve used to relax and refocus during this busy month:
1) Be Kind to Yourself
Recognise and acknowledge the stress. It’s perfectly normal to feel this way so don’t worry about it and try not to bully yourself over it. Notice the tension in your body and mind. Where is it situated? Once you have found the spaces where the stress is located, you can work on letting it go.
2) Write It Down
I keep a daily journal because it helps me keep track of my life. If I have a lot of things on my mind, I write them all down. Afterwards I feel relieved, almost like they’ve gone. It’s an offloading method that can work pretty well! I also write down shopping lists, goals, quotes, ideas: all the stuff that fills up my mind. Start writing and you’ll quickly find tasks become much more manageable.
3) Drink Tea
Tea has (almost) magical powers. It can wake you up or help you fall asleep. It can give you energy or make you relax. There are a ton of de-stressing and mind lifting teas including chamomile, cinnamon, lemon, passionflower, lavender, nettle leaf, dandelion, ginger, mint and kava. I’m currently drinking organic green coconut tea which is tropical, refreshing and a great way of starting my day.
Take a long, hot shower and bath to soothe your muscles and your mind. Buy some bath soaps and fragrances of your favourite scents and candles to create your own stress-free zone. Breathe in the beautiful smells and let yourself feel free!
5) Praise Yourself
Sit yourself down and realize that despite an ever-elongating list of things to do, you’ve accomplished a LOT. Reflect on how far you’ve come (even since the beginning of the month) and celebrate it! Look at yourself in the mirror and grin-you’ve survived September so far!
6) Animal Therapy
For me a great way to relax is to watch aquatic life. The fish tank in my room is hypnotising and helps me sleep better. Whether it’s loving, lively furry friends or captivating fish swimming between corals and plants, animals are a great way to help clear the mind and reduce stress.
7) Surround Yourself with Positive People
Choose to be around people who inspire you and love you without judgement. Soak in their positive emotions and good vibes. Ask them for pointers on how to destress and discuss what’s stressing you out, hopefully with a good dose of laughter.
8) Try Ginseng
While you might think of a rubbery plant when we mention “ginseng”, the herb comes in easy to consume packets at East-Asian supermarkets and specialty stores. So don’t worry! Add a pack of ginseng to hot tea and honey and it could reduce your anxiety and increase energy levels. While it might not work for everyone, try it out-it could be the herbal booster you’ve been looking for.
9) Go Outdoors
This week I joined the “Truly B Me” Trent University student lead ‘Sunrise Nature Walk and Meditation’ session for Disorientation Week. We shifted our focus from the external (plants, trees, history, the ground) to the internal (ourselves, our feelings, intentions, gratitude) and brought awareness to the present moment. We avoided thinking about the past or future. Afterwards, I felt relaxed, thankful and ready to face the day ahead.
Disconnect entirely from your work during your off-hours. Don’t allow your stress to multiply by bringing your work life home. Turn notifications off to emails. If you’ve finished an exam, don’t use social media to compare your performance with other students. Detach from your academic and professional work mentally, physically and electronically.
Visualise positive outcomes and get rid of negative ones. Take exams for example-I used to imagine I was going to fail. That way of thinking was the source of my stress. My breathing got faster, I began to panic, hold tension and lose awareness and clarity. Instead, I started visualizing myself passing the exam-which calmed down my nerves and stilled my angst.
Aromatherapy is a practice of using oils and other plant substances for healing to combat stress and psychological issues and improve overall wellbeing. Plants known for their aromatherapy capabilities include peppermint, lavender, jasmine, chamomile, eucalyptus, tea tree and lemongrass. My personal favourite is eucalyptus-it’s a dream!
Music can be powerful therapy. For me, Bob Marley’s ‘Stir It Up’ never ceases to fail. I remember sitting in the sun listening to the album as I beamed down at the First Class Honours Degree in my hand. The last five years of studying had paid off. I had nothing to think about but my upcoming flight to South America. I was in the honeymoon stage of love. I felt on top of the world, and I still feel exactly the same each time I listen to the song.
Colouring reminds me of the stress-free days of being a child. It allows me to be in control on a day when things haven’t gone my own way. Simply choosing colours to pair together brings satisfaction. Colouring books also give you the outline and foundation for expressing creativity. Colouring brings rhythm, stability and serenity into my day, similar to how meditation makes me feel. I find Millie Marotta’s “Animal Kingdom” colouring book incredibly calming, comforting and therapeutic.
15) Get Enough Sleep
Ever find everything is worse late at night? Most of us have a much higher stress level at night because tiredness stimulates stress. Get in bed early, read a book or watch a show to take your mind off your thoughts and save whatever’s worrying you until the morning.
Uncontrolled stress can lead to a whole bunch of scary physical and mental health problems. Learning how to manage stress before it manages you means you’ll feel less pressure, be able to manage every day in school or the workplace, and ultimately be much happier and healthier!