What I learnt from ‘volume down’ time
Feeling stressed? 3 small tips that might be a big help
by team Holly & Co
First things first, let’s keep this short. The last thing you need right now is more to do, so this will take just two minutes to read. However, if your world’s in a tangle, everything’s piling up and it’s making you anxious, there are three super quick techniques that might help. (Note: your first urge might well be to shout, “Why on earth would I want to think about this when I’m already stressed up to the eyeballs and have about as much free time as a mum of twelve, trading shares while balancing a fork on my finger?!” But the answer would be, “Well because if it might just work, is it worth a try?” Decide for yourself…
1. Change your mind space
It’s hard to fix anything when you’re panicking and ‘in it’. Plus if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got. Something’s got to change. This can be as simple as taking five minutes to clear your head. Go outside and walk up the road — but as you walk, only look for green things and try to remember as many of them as you can by the end. It’s a creative task that can help you see the same things you always see in a whole new light, and might just unblock something in your brain. It’s also about mindfulness. So by focusing on these, you’re not focusing on the issues for a moment and are getting some fresh air and exercise — all of which could do you good.
Alternatively, try and get out to the park for a short while. According to a recent article by Yale University, “Studies have shown that time in nature — as long as people feel safe — is an antidote for stress: It can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood. Attention Deficit Disorder and aggression lessen in natural environments¹.” Finally, try listening to a podcast like Conversations of Inspiration or there are shorter ones too such as Practical Positivity. Hearing heart-lifting, action-led stories of how others have gone through something similar or just inspiringly different will likely help.
2. Do one thing now your future self will thank you for
Take a few moments and plan in one nice thing to do next month. This will give you something to look forward to which might help calm your mind. Alternatively do something lovely for someone else. Send a surprise card. Make an online donation. Hide notes in family members’ pockets’. There is evidence to suggest that when you help others, it can promote physiological changes in the brain linked with happiness.² And the happier you feel, the less stressed you’re likely to be. Finally, try and do something your future self will thank you for. Getting organised helps make sense of the chaos in your brain. So even if it’s not directly sorting out the issues at hand, it might reduce overall stress by taking one more thing off your noisy to-do list.
3. Don’t forget to have fun
Get up fifteen minutes earlier tomorrow and set this aside for ‘joy time’. Joy time is anything that makes you happy. Lie on the floor, play three songs that most make you feel like you and just listen. Text a friend a gif that reminds you of a funny memory. Make up the most creative evening you can think of with someone you love and book it in. Most importantly, try and keep in mind that it’ll all get done, it always does, so focus on what’s important. Be kind to yourself. On your deathbed, you’re unlikely to look back and think about that order that got lost or the emails you didn’t reply to. It’s the laughter, the happy times, the people you love. So try not to keep deprioritizing these things. Spend your energy wisely. Don’t forget to have fun.
Send a surprise card. Make an online donation. Hide notes in family member’s pockets. There is evidence to suggest that when you help others, it can promote physiological changes in the brain linked with happiness.² And the happier you feel, the less stressed you’re likely to be.