5 tips to de-stress when the world is a little bit heavy
Wherever you may be in the world, there are a lot of contributing factors as to why the world is feeling very heavy currently. As stress levels continue to stay elevated, this takes a toll on your personal health and wellbeing and can sometimes leave you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and burnt out.
Unfortunately, external pressures will always exist, however we have 5 quick tips that can really help you to de-stress and improve your wellbeing by taking small steps and hopefully get you into a more positive mindset.
1. Get moving
Getting outside and doing some exercise can sometimes be difficult but all experts agree that it’s a great way to boost your mood and help reduce your stress levels. Consistent exercise in turn helps improve your overall wellbeing. If you can relate to feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, exercise can often be one of the last things on your never ending to-do list that you feel like doing, however studies have also shown that exercise is a great way to give yourself a natural energy boost, even when you least feel like it! If you struggle to feel like you find time to exercise or have trouble getting started, why not try and organise the kit you’ll need for the activity, this can take the stress out of finding your kit and make you feel like it’s easier to get going.
Exercise triggers those feel good endorphins into your bloodstream, relieving pain and producing a feeling of wellbeing. It’s well known that our mental and physical health are heavily intertwined, physical exercise helps stimulate your brain, even as little as 10 minutes of exercise that gets you out of breath means you can start to feel the benefits. Why not try going for a short run or trying a new gym class to get those endorphins flowing?
2. Practise gratitude
Practising gratitude is a great and quick way to become present. Harvard Health Publishing describes gratitude as ‘a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible.’ This means acknowledging and spotlighting the goodness that comes into our lives. Studies published on the topic of gratitude support the association between gratitude and stable wellbeing.
Gratitude can be practised anytime, anywhere, daily, weekly or even once a month. You may prefer to make a mental note, or cathartically write it down.
If you don’t know where to start, simply grab a pen and paper or open up your notes app on your phone and write down 1-3 things you are grateful for. This may come to you easily or you may have to dig deep. The beauty of creating a gratitude list is that the items could be people, things or moments you have experiences throughout the day. Bringing them to the forefront of your mind and creating a positive neural association with the activity and experience. Harvard Health Publishing also states that ‘In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.’
3. Set yourself a new goal
This may sound scary but setting yourself a new goal is a great way to keep focused and improve your overall wellbeing by gaining that sense of achievement when you’ve accomplished it. This could be something like learning a new skill or trying something completely different. If the task seems overwhelming and large, start small, perhaps something like trying a new recipe for dinner. Discovering a new hobby is a great way to push you out of your comfort zone and meet new people. Hobbies in particular provide a fulfilling and productive use of spare time as well as increasing your knowledge in a particular area.
Theconversation.com describes how although most can be apprehensive about starting something new, eventually the ‘reward system’ within our brain kicks in; ‘The reason that finding time for hobbies can work has to do with how they affect the reward system in the brain. When we take part in a hobby that we enjoy, chemical messengers in the brain (known as neurotransmitters) are released – such as dopamine, a chemical which helps us feel pleasure. These feel-good chemicals can then make us want to do the hobby again, and feel more motivated to do so.’
4. Stop overthinking
It’s perfectly normal to worry sometimes, but when you find yourself coming back to the same topic again and again, you could be overthinking. Overthinking on the whole is quite stressful and exhausting, however sometimes overthinking can trick the brain into associating itself with something beneficial or productive1.
Breaking the overthinking habit is definitely easier said than done, here are 3 useful tips you can use to help when you identify overthinking.
1. Do a brain dump - Write down everything on your mind, however big or small. Writing down or taking note of everything on your mind not only frees up some head space but may also help you figure out some of the topics you are overthinking as you have the opportunity to focus on one item at a time.
2. Try the countdown method - If you are stuck in an overthinking loop and are finding it difficult to be productive, try counting down from 5 in your head. This gives your mind and body enough time to prepare itself and focus on the next task in hand. This method can be especially helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed and are struggling to start on your to-do list.
3. Take a walk - Breaking the overthinking cycle and heading out for a short or long in nature can provide countless benefits. Fresh air and the steady (or speedy!) plodding of steps helps a lot of people stop ruminating, get out of your own head and realise there is something larger than yourself in your surroundings.
Catching yourself in the overthinking trap can be the first step to helping take those steps towards stopping overthinking. Remember to not get frustrated with yourself if you can’t stop overthinking straight away, practice makes perfect!
5. Talk to someone
In recent years it's no secret that it’s been a lot more difficult to maintain or build face to face relationships. New routines have been created, some with more alone time, however one of the biggest stress relievers and mood boosters, especially when you feel the world is very heavy; is simply having a conversation. This could be calling a friend or a loved one you may not have seen in a long time, or catching up over a coffee. Even the dreaded small talk is beneficial to our wellbeing as it makes us better problem solvers!2. Conversation gives us an opportunity to talk things through, get an alternative perspective, share ideas and interests, perhaps vent and to listen to others, ultimately it can boost our social wellness.
Even just having a 20 minute chat can uplift your mood and give you some food for thought.
Brown, David, et al. “Covid-19: Five ways to stay positive through lockdown.” BBC, 5 January 2021, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55264224. Accessed 6 July 2022.
“Giving thanks can make you happier.” Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier. Accessed 6 July 2022.
“Importance of Hobbies.” UAEX, https://www.uaex.uada.edu/life-skills-wellness/extension-homemakers/Hobbies_LessonGuide.pdf. Accessed 7 July 2022.
Santilli, Mara. “What Causes Overthinking—And 6 Ways To Stop.” Forbes, 15 June 2022, https://www.forbes.com/health/mind/what-causes-overthinking-and-6-ways-to-stop/. Accessed 7 July 2022.
“3 reasons why conversation is important.” Robertson Cooper, https://www.robertsoncooper.com/blog/3-reasons-why-conversation-is-important/. Accessed 7 July 2022.