As you read this, I will be adjusting to real life and work after a holiday in New Zealand. And fantasising about taking a break in late December, taking time to chill out and relax again. But if you’re stressed and holidays are far away, saying ‘just relax’ is about as useful as ‘don’t worry, be happy’ – some tips and tools are needed to get from A (stress bunny) to B (cool banana). Check out these ideas for helping you de-stress while you are still in work mode:

1. Find a relaxation technique
There are any number of simple techniques available, some associated with a particular religion, others not. Have a look at the internet, check out the numerous books available or look for local classes.
2. Work hard then rest..
In an interview I did quite a few years ago with Siimon Reynolds, he suggested we should all work only 5 hours a day, but really focus during those 5 hours… then switch off entirely from work and do something restful. Really fill your working hours, but then build in some space each day to recuperate and switch off.
3. Take control of a (at least) a corner of your life
The most effective stress reduction technique is to remove the things in our life that are stressful. Of course, this is not always possible or even desirable. However, it is a great strategy to at least render order to a small corner of your world. This has benefits to mind and body far beyond the practical effects of the completion of the task itself. So, if your boss is giving you hell or your partner is awaiting a risky operation, it may really help you to clean out a cupboard at home or organise your finances or build a shed…
4. Develop your emotional self-management skills
There are any number of books and courses available now on improving your ability to deal with your own feelings (and those of the people around you). Two excellent choices are Martin Seligman, Authentic Happiness and Daniel Goleman, Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Both contain excellent strategies and are easily available. But really it’s about whatever is helpful for you…ask around, borrow books from friends or libraries, find useful tips that make sense to you (oh, and do them…).
5. Pursue meaningful goals
This may sound trite, but stress that crops up along the path to a satisfying goal (like getting a degree or writing a book) is much less damaging to the mind and body than stress we encounter say in a dead end job or in dealing with a constantly noisy neighbour. The reason, of course, is that we are working towards a meaningful future and are focused on the big picture. So find your vision and start working towards it.
What’s your favourite stress management tip?
Joanna Maxwell


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