Page 3: How to minimise stress

Stress is a symptom of too much pressure. It can stem from work or school, in family or society. A minimal amount of stress can help us perform at our best, but too much can quickly debilitate us – in worst case scenarios, lead to burnout and other health problems. It should not be a state of mind, an aspiration or a badge of honour.

I do not want to be the type of person who doesn’t prioritise their health. This week, I’m going to implement these strategies, which I’ve used in the past, into my daily routine:

Getting organised

Keeping lists of what I need to do at work and what I want to achieve to progress my goals helps me to track my workload and schedule my time. Key to this is prioritising, being realistic with what you can do in a day and scheduling in time for breaks or buffers between projects. When we’re realistic with our time, we achieve what we set out to do and can feel good about it.

My commitment: Create a to do list every morning before anything else. Prioritise the three most important tasks, and if you accomplish them, that’s a job well done.

Taking breaks

Being ‘always on the go’ may sound glamorous but is not maintainable. You can still work hard and take breaks – in fact, we often work much better when our mind is not tired. Some of my favourite ways to take a break at work, for example, is taking a walk in the neighbourhood, getting a coffee from the local coffee shop, meeting friends for lunch. It often helps to remove yourself from the work environment.

My commitment: Schedule in at least 30 minutes at lunch time away from your desk.

Nourishing the body

Eating well, exercising and pampering the body can work wonders for the mind. Giving your body the nutrients it needs gives you the energy you need. Exercising helps release the tension built up during the day. And pampering the body by taking a bath or doing a face mask helps slow the mind.

My commitment: Be a conscious eater; exercise at the gym three times this week; practice some yoga

Sleeping well

Sleep can be one of the first sacrifices we make with a busy lifestyle. But it shouldn’t be neglected. Ways I try to help my body get the rest it needs is going to bed at a similar time each night, listening to piano music before bed to signal to my brain that we’re soon going to sleep, and keeping work life out of the bedroom (if you work at home, have a separate space for work outside of the bedroom).

My commitment: Put your phone on airplane mode at 9pm; turn the light off at 10.30pm

I’ve also heard excellent things about meditation and mindfulness – I cannot vouch for them as strategies but this week I’m going to get up each morning and do 10 minutes of mindfulness.

Got any of your own tips, habits or commitments? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. I’ll let you know how I get on with mine.

(Image: Pinterest)

If you witness bullying…

stop bullying

… don’t do nothing. Because doing nothing is still something. And we might not understand the gravity of standing by. Bullying can range from name calling and teasing to violence, intimidation and harassment, and can manifest at school, at work, or online. So if we do witness bullying, here are a few ways of doing something about it:

  1. Don’t make assumptions about the bully’s motives or the victim’s feelings. It might seem as if the bully’s words are meant as a harmless joke and it might seem as if the victim brushes them off, but that may not be the case. And even if it is, that’s not an excuse to ignore it.
  2. Don’t encourage the bully. It might be tempting to laugh at a bully’s remarks or gossip about someone behind they’re back, in an attempt to fit in or avoid being bullied ourselves, but if we keep encouraging it, we keep normalising it. And bullying has too serious consequences to ignore.
  3. Call it out. If you see the bully in action, in person or online, and you feel safe enough to do so, confront them. Sometimes a bully needs their sense of power to be stripped away. They can thrive on the idea that nobody can stop them. Tell them that they’re wrong. But be careful not to confuse calling out the bully with becoming a bully yourself.
  4. If standing up to the bully is too frightening, focus on the victim instead. Ask them how they are. Listen to them. Offer them the support they ask for. Befriend them. Invite them to sit with you at lunch times. Whatever you can do to make them feel less alone. There’s strength in numbers and it gives the bullied something to look forward to in a usually hostile environment.
  5. Tell someone. Sometimes we might lack authority over the bully, for example if we’re classmates or colleagues. We need find help from someone else, like a teacher or someone in human resources – whoever you feel comfortable talking to and who you can trust. Just make sure you’re sensitive and careful about anything you share about the victim.

Got any other advice? Leave it in the comments!

For more advice on dealing with bullying, visit this post: http://wp.me/p2Q5YU-3C

(Image: Tumblr)

Tips for Keeping Motivated

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Taylor Swift said in Vanity Fair’s April 2013 magazine interview: “I’m the type of person, I have to study to get an A on the test, I have to work really hard to get a record deal – I have to spend years at it to get it good. I have to practice to be good at the guitar. I have to write 100 songs before you write the first good one.” It is comforting to know that someone with seven Grammys, and who is the only female artist to have three consecutive albums at No. 1 on the Billboard 100 for six weeks or more, has to work hard. She’s ordinary. It didn’t happen overnight. She had to work to get to where she is. It reminds us that all success worth having is the type of success you have to work for. Working hard is part of the journey and its what makes the outcome so great.

We all have to do little, and most possibly mundane, things to get to where we want to go, whether it’s just to pass a test or to achieve a life goal. And sometimes it can be hard to keep motivated, especially if it’s something you don’t particularly enjoy or you know it’s going to be a long task. So here are some tips for getting and staying motivated:

  • Get enough sleep – I would say at least 8 hours if you want to get a day’s work in.
  • When you wake up, get in the shower and get dressed – this will rejuvenate you and it will automatically make you feel ready to face the day with energy!
  • Eat a good breakfast – after all, it is the most important meal of the day!
  • Work in an area that is clean, and devoid of all clutter and distractions.
  • If you’re working towards a big goal, break it down into more achievable sections to make it more manageable and seem more accomplishable – you have to be able to believe you can do it!
  • Make a checklist of everything that you want to accomplish that day – but be reasonable! Not only will this keep you organised, but it’s also very satisfying to cross things off once you’ve completed them. The more you cross off, the more you want to cross off everything else, which spurs you to complete task after task. When the day is over, you really get a sense of how much you’ve done and you can then reward yourself for having accomplished what you wanted. At the same time, be positive and don’t beat yourself up if you are not able to complete everything; learn from it and make a more manageable checklist the next day!
  • Do one thing at a time, rather than starting a load of things at the same time – this will assure you that things are getting done!
  • Reward yourself – not only will this give you something to look forward to but it will also let your brain have a break. But make sure you get back to the task at hand. Remember, accomplishing your tasks is a reward in itself!
  • Finally, try to enjoy what you’re doing – it can be hard, but if you can enjoy what you’re doing, it won’t seem such a chore and it will go all the more faster!

p.s. Inspirational quotes are also very motivating! Here’s one to get you started: “They can because they think they can” – Virgil

How to deal with a bad grade

Whether you’re filled with self-doubt and no self-confidence, or you know that you didn’t spend enough time writing and revising, anticipation hangs in that moment before receiving a grade. And once its there in your hand, completely unexpected and foreign in the worst way, there is no better way of describing the feeling other than like the end of the world, however clichéd it sounds.

 

Sitting in the toilets of the English Department at my university, I cried whilst reading over the comments of the paper I had worked so hard on. There wasn’t any possibility of me spending more time on that paper than I did. Is this really what defines my best? Does this mark define my abilities? How can I ever do better than this in the future? At the time, my answers to these questions fell to the negative end of the scale. And that is probably because my head was clouded with self-loathing and my throat clogged the sadness. But once I got over that initial stage I had to ask myself one final question: was I going to let myself be brought down by this unlucky experience, or was I going to pick myself up, take some action, and really show that marker what I could do? I hope everyone in a similar position would pick the second option. So here is a little action plan to get you started:

 

  • I think its ok to cry at the beginning to let out all the frustration, sadness and disappointment you are feeling.
  • Talk about it with someone who you know will be supportive and comforting – they will make you feel better by listening and give you some good advice and reassurance.
  • Don’t waste your time crying about it, but resolve to take some action. You’ll kick yourself for wasting energy on it later; in a few years you’ll look back on it and think how trivial it actually is.
  • Book a meeting with your teacher or tutor about what went wrong. Although it can be hard to hear, it will help you in the long run because they’ll give you pointers on how to improve. In the end you might even see that you’re doing even better than you would have done if you hadn’t had this bad grade.
  • Don’t give up. Even if you’ve had a few bad grades, there is always time to change things around. You just have to believe in yourself and your capabilities and realise that things can be achieved if you put in the work.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others, but remember that other people are or have been in a similar position, and you are not alone. Everyone sometimes has a bad mark or day and its best to acknowledge it, deal with it and move onto better things.

 

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” – Unknown Author