Times are tough. If you’re feeling aches in your jaw from unconsciously grinding your teeth, struggling to sleep and can’t stop your mind from racing, we feel ya. Here are five quick and effective ways to de-stress yourself when the going gets tough.
Get the blood flowing
It’s cold out, and dark for too much of the day still, but getting some exercise into your day really does make the world of difference for both body and brain. Yoga is a great place to start, requiring minimal equipment. Yoga with Adriene is practically a movement at this point, one which has swept members of the Creative HEAD team up too. Adriene has hundreds of free videos up on YouTube, of varying lengths and difficulty, which encourage you to ‘find what feels good’ rather than chatting about chakras too much.
Progressive muscle relaxation is also a quick, easy way to release a lot of the tension keeping you captive. Starting with your feet, clench and release each group of muscles as your travel up your body. You’ll feel like a new person by the time you’re bunching and relaxing your shoulders.
Get out of your head
Struggling to quiet your mind? Carve out a few minutes at the beginning of each day – or whenever you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed – to take a dive into meditation. People have been meditating in some form or another for 3000 years. And no wonder; it has noticeable benefits including increased focus and lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
If you’re new to the idea, there are a million and one videos and apps to help. Headspace is probably the most well known – and its new programme on Netflix is about to open meditation up to even more people. Little and often is all it takes – a few minutes every day soon adds up.
Fresh air really is vital to mental and physical health. Lockdown restrictions have forced us to reassess our habits, and you should absolutely take advantage of your ability to get outside. Pumping your lungs with fresh oxygen helps to encourage blood flow and keep your body ticking along. Spending time in natural surroundings has also been shown to have a positive impact on depression and anxiety. Put on a podcast or some instrumental music if you don’t want anything too distracting, and head to the park to de-stress.
Write it out
Sometimes the physical act of writing down what’s in your head can help to quieten anxious minds. Whether that’s a to-do list, a stream of consciousness like a journal or even a jumble of thoughts and feelings in a brain-dump, writing it out really can help. Writing about emotions can help to ease stress and trauma by helping to organise your thoughts and concentrate on experiences and emotions. It’s a safe environment – no-one needs to ever read it, yourself included.
Try answering open questions such as ‘How am I feeling?’ or ‘What am I trying to change?’ to get you going.
Scent of success
Scent is one of the most powerful senses we have, and aromatherapy can work wonders for taming anxiety. A whiff of essential oils can help to calm both mind and body because it encourages us to be in the moment, lighting up our brain with our sensitive receptors. Certain oils also act on the nervous system, helping to slow heart and breathing rate, or have sedative properties. There’s a reason you always find lavender in anything encouraging a good night’s sleep!
From rollerballs to candles, bath soaks to vials of pure essential oils, if you’re looking to tap into a bit of zen then the world of aromatherapy will have something for you.
For more expert advice, support or guidance, check out Creative HEAD’s Collective, created in partnership with leading Employee Assistance Programme provider Care first. It is a new membership programme that provides everyone in your salon with support and practical advice on issues that might be impacting on wellbeing and performance. The service covers everything from financial and legal matters to childcare, eldercare, emotional and practical everyday support – and much more.