Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean you can’t unwind and relax. Charis Le Riche shows us how.
Studies by the international research company Bloomberg found that South Africa has the second highest levels of stress in the world. Stress can lead to depression, anxiety, sleep problems and irritability – and although it’s a killer for anyone, it has a major effect on your blood sugar levels. That means it’s even more important for diabetics to keep their stress levels in check.
Luckily, you don’t have to quit your job and go on a meditation retreat to do so! There are a number of ways to unwind during your lunch break. Here are five of our favourites.
We all know that yoga is a great way to relax your mind and body, but you don’t have to bring your yoga mat and leotard to work – there are short mini-meditations that you can do while sitting at your desk. Simply stop what you’re doing and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and focus on your breathing: count three full inhales and exhales, and then slowly open your eyes again. You can do this exercise throughout the day and it will only take a minute of your time.
I don’t mean skipping rope (unless you want to!) but getting away from your desk is one of the best things you can do to combat stress. So put down your pen and step away from the computer. Head outside and take a walk or find a spot to sit while you sketch or write. Do whatever you enjoy best – as long as it means you get away from the office for a bit. You’ll be amazed how problems seem more manageable when you have a moment to clear your mind.
It may seem like a cliché, but laughter often is the best medicine, especially in the work place. Sometimes you just need some comic relief in a high tension moment to relieve everyone’s anxiety. So share some funny stories with colleagues or watch a silly video. Anything that lightens the mood is a good thing!
Hit the gym
Another sure way to beat stress is to work it out through exercise. Any kind of exercise will help relieve stress, so you can pick something you know you will enjoy and are comfortable with, whether it’s yoga, pilates, spinning, swimming or running on the treadmill. As long as you’re working up a sweat, you’re doing your body (and mind) some good.
Enjoy some “me” time
If you can’t get away from the office, try to enjoy a little “me” time while at your desk – even if it is only for 20 minutes. Put on your ear phones and listen to your favourite music (music is a great anti-stress tool) and take some time out to doodle or browse Pinterest or Instagram. This can help improve your attitude about the work at hand and put things in perspective. Never a bad thing!
Fancy a cup of tea?
In many situations – at home or in the office – a cup of tea is just the thing you need to calm you down. Many cultures have been using tea for medicinal purposes for centuries. Here are a few teas that can help you combat stress:
- Chamomile: A firm favourite among people who need to relax.
- Green: Not only high in antioxidants but also contains theanine which is known to help with stress (it does contain caffeine though, so look out for the decaffeinated kind).
- St John’s Wort: Known for its ability to treat depression, this tea also helps with anxiety.
- Lemon Balm: Great for helping you sleep, Lemon Balm tea helps overcome depression, anxiety and nervousness.
- Lavender: Another tea that helps with sleeplessness, lavender is known for its soothing qualities.
Do you struggle to let loose? Here are 10 great ideas from Claire Barnardo that show you how to really relax…
When did life get so busy? Sometimes it can be hard to find time to unwind, but with a little imagination (and forward planning!) there’s really no excuse not to. Here are our top 10 ways to chill out:
- Give a foot massage
Getting a foot massage might sound more relaxing, but giving one not only makes someone else happy, but helps you to relax as well. Don’t forget to use some soothing lotion, and check out our top tips for giving foot massages below.
- Go for a walk
Exercise is one of the best ways you can loosen up. It’s not only fun and gets you moving, it also has tons of physical benefits. Plus your mood improves because of all the feel-good hormones. So get moving – even if it’s only a short stroll around the block…
- Run a bath
There’s nothing more relaxing than lying in a hot bubble bath (with a scented candle burning). It’s the perfect way to de-stress and let your mind wander and unwind from the day’s activities. Try lavender drops in the water for a good night’s rest.
- Have an (unlimited) coffee date with a friend
Make a date to meet a friend for a lengthy cup of coffee (or a pot of tea). Chatting things over without any time limits is a great way to chill out (and share worries). Especially if it includes a few laughs!
- Play a board game with your family
Get everyone together and play your favourite board game. Whether it’s 30 Seconds, Charades or a game of cards, games are an ideal way to check out of the day-to-day drill and enjoy each other’s company.
- Read a book
Escape into another world through the pages of your favourite novel. You’ll not only be using your imagination, but exercising your mind too. There’s no better way to relax than a good book on a comfortable chair (or bed!)
Research shows that people who meditate greatly reduce their stress levels. Plus it results in improved memory, decreased anxiety and generally makes you feel much more positive. Even a short five-minute meditation can have a good effect on your mood and your stress levels – and if you start with a guided meditation it won’t be too difficult to switch off. The easiest meditation of all? Find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed, sit comfortably and focus on your breathing – in and out, in and out.
- Pay it forward
Try being kind as a form of relaxation. Whether it’s smiling at a stranger, letting a car go before you in traffic or planning a special treat for a friend, being nice can make you feel good too. Remember that charity begins at home, so try starting with your family.
- Go gardening
You don’t need flowerbeds to enjoy the relaxation of green fingers. Even trimming a houseplant or potting a new pot plant will take the edge off. Studies show that the sensory experience of gardening is what really calms the mind and puts you back in touch with yourself.
- Close your eyes
Instead of pushing yourself from one deadline to the next, try taking a short nap to recharge. Even a 20-minute sleep can help to refocus your brain and energy. What are you waiting for? Time for some zzz…..