Stress may impact people’s lives on a daily basis with sometimes devastating results. According to a study by mental health charity Mental Health Foundation, 16% of those who have experienced stress had self-harmed, while 32% suffered suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Whilst it is easier said than done to keep calm and carry on, there are some steps you can take right now to lead a calmer life. Most are easy to do and can be as simple as going for a walk.
Other tips include practising deep breathing and taking up a new hobby. Here are my top tips on feeling more relaxed in your day-to-day life.
Being present is a good way to filter out any background noise and just really feel at peace with yourself. Move away from your work desk, close your eyes and focus on noises that you can hear.
It may only be the buzz of a lightbulb or the swooshing cycle of your dishwasher in your kitchen that you hear. However, these sounds will ground you and leave you in a more relaxed state.
Go for a daily walk
Fresh air is good for the mind and body, clearing out those mental cobwebs. Ring-fence this time in your diary and try to pop out, even if just for 10 minutes around the block.
Besides, a walk outside also gives you a chance to top up your vitamin D, which according to the NHS, helps regulate calcium in the body. I try to time my walk after I finish work, in a bid to compartmentalise various aspects of my life.
Perfect your deep breathing technique
Taking deep breaths is a powerful way to alleviate stress whilst giving you the feeling of being calm and in control. According to Harvard Health Publishing, focusing on your breaths evokes a relaxation response.
There are plenty of videos on YouTube that can help you explore deep breathing techniques. The NHS website also has a good step-by-step technique that will help you feel more chilled out. This is my go-to technique to calm down rapidly and it also means I can do it anywhere without any fancy equipment.
Focus on the bigger picture and get to the root of your anxiety
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 61% of adults were reported to be feeling anxious. If you find that you are experiencing stress and don’t know how to combat it, try to get to the root of the problem.
As soon as you start feeling overwhelmed or panicky, write down what happened to make you feel that way. Hopefully, you can spot a pattern emerging and steer clear of situations that may cause your anxiety to spike.
For me, I found myself feeling on edge when I was on social media. I used to scroll endlessly on Twitter before bed, which I found wasn't helping me feel calm at all.
Instead, I stopped taking my mobile phone into my bedroom and bought a simple alarm clock to wake me up in the morning. The key is not only recognising areas that trigger feelings of anxiety, but also coming up with a workable solution that will help you keep and stay calm.
Think yourself calmer and foster gratitude
If your brain is bombarded with thoughts of a situation that you find stressful, try to think of something or someone that you love. It is very difficult to feel anxious when you’re thinking about something positive and feeling grateful.
It may be a memory of childhood or an enjoyable vacation that chases away feelings of stress. Focus on that happy memory and try to feel in control and calmer. For me, I think of loved ones and sushi, which automatically puts a smile on my face.
Find a hobby that makes you chill out
Find something that makes you feel calmer. Journaling, where you write your thoughts down, may help, which gives you an excuse to buy some lovely stationery.
I now have a drawer full of beautiful notebooks, pretty pencils and cool pens, all of which I use to journal my way to calm. Other activities to help foster calm, include painting, sketching, yoga, knitting, crochet or cooking.