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Stressed Out? 4 Simple Tricks To Help You Reduce Stress At Home

Stressed Out? 4 Simple Tricks To Help You Reduce Stress At Home

We all have those days that we wish was not ours. Many things happen that get us antsy: The system that won’t power up, even though your deadline to submit your work is due; the car that failed to start in the morning which caused you to get to work late, and earned yourself a query letter from your boss, as result. Sometimes, it looks as if the universe conspired against you for no reason.

Getting to Know How Your Brain Works During Distress

No one wakes up and wishes for things to go against them. But the unexpected does happen. That’s life!

Here is what the brain does when the unexpected happens: you think of what the reaction might be or what this will result in. And your brain goes haywire. It tries to defend you. But it does this job poorly, and now, you have this thing called stress.

Stress is your body’s reaction to harmful events or an unfavorable condition.

Psychologists call it “fight or flight”. That is, when the unexpected happens, your body or brain goes through can be called “should I fight this or let it go?” moments. You’re thinking about what’s wrong, at the same time you want to find a solution to it. This causes anxiety, depression, your blood pressure rises and so on.

But then, psychologists have also devised several means to combat stress, reduce it, or simply managing it. Or always putting yourself in a state where things don’t always get this bad.

Relaxation responses [1] are opposites of “fight or flight”: instead of reacting to what’s wrong, you respond and that’s taking charge of your body and mind, attempting to bring calmness into your body both mentally and physically.

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In case you also battle stress from time to time, the following are easy or simple tricks you can employ to relief your stress – they don’t cost a thing, just your time.

4 Four Tricks to Help You Reduce Stress at Home:

1. Play Soothing, Nature Music

The consensus conception is that music is only for pleasure. But if recent evidence by researchers is anything to go by,  music is way more than what most of us thought of it. Simply put: music should be your primary “go-to” stress reliever where you’re down. The reason being, it costs nothing unlike drugs, and it’s always readily available.

Now, how does music reduce stress? One of the signs that you’re distressed, anxious is that your heart beats faster than normal, but psychologists have reported that listening to music—slow soothing music, in particular—helps slow the heart rate.

How? According to a research carried out at the Israel Medical Center’s Louis Amstrong Center for Music and Medicine, mothers were told to sing lullabies to their premature babies and obviously disturbed babies. And the result? They noticed the babies’ heart rate slowed down and they stayed quieter and more alert than before.[2]

The same researchers were also able to prove music is capable of distracting one from pains and in some cases more effective than drugs. Music therapists found that patients who listen to music before a surgery is performed on them were reported to feel less pain compared to those who took a drug or some sort of pain relievers.

David Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music said “we’ve found compelling evidence that musical interventions can play a health-care role in settings ranging from operating rooms to family clinics”

Bringing Slow Music to Your Life…

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Whenever you’re feeling distressed, consider listening to music, specifically a slow one. Have a playlist comprising of slow music and listen to them. There are also some Youtube channels that are tailored to relieve you of the stress.

2. Deep breathing

One of those ways to activate relaxation response is through deep breathing, and this probably the easiest of all tricks. Yes, the normal breathing is something you do all the time – only this time, it is intentional and it’s actually deeper.

You will hear people call this many names like diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing and so on. But it’s still the usual breathing in and out.

When you breathe, you inhale fresh oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. If you’re wondering why doctors tell patient to take a deliberate but slow breath, before checking their blood pressure, here it is: slow breathing helps lower the heart rate and helps stabilize one’s blood pressure otherwise known as hypertension.[3]

How to Get Started With Deep Breathing

This technique is actually an age-long way of calming one’s mind down. Though it only started gaining mainstream attention in the west a few decades ago, it’s been pretty much practiced in the east by yogis.

All you have to do is find somewhere quiet and distraction free. Slowly breathe in and out, visualize or watch air go into your body and coming out through the nostrils. It’s that simple, and you don’t need more 5-10 minutes of practice a day.

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    3. Mindfulness Meditation

    If anyone told you that that problem that is trying to crush your soul right now isn’t really there, that it is just your mind meddling with your thought, that it is all up in your head, would you take them seriously?

    Of course, you won’t. But maybe you should.

    Your car broke down, you got late to work, and your boss gave you a query letter asking for a cogent reason why you were late to work. Now you are thinking this will lead to you being sacked. Maybe it won’t. Maybe he just wants to know. But your mind is already cooking up a story. A dangerous one! Now you want to fight it. You’re imagining yourself being jobless.

    Mindful meditation which also includes deliberate breathing, the closing of one’s eyes and sitting calmly, allows you shift your mind away from the problem for some time, which allows you to see things the way they are.One way to silence the chatterbox in your head is through mindful meditation.

    But that’s not all, there is more to meditation, and researchers have also found that mindful meditation helps cure diseases such as anxiety disorder, asthma, depression, high blood pressure, increase your ability to focus for an extended period time and sleep problems. [4]

    Meditation was practiced for thousands of years in the east by different people, and so it takes different forms, but still, they all aim for the same thing, and it all depends on the one each individual finds most convenient.

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    • Guided meditation: Some people do this while listening to an audio where someone is telling them what to do. Usually, with your eyes closed, you’re told to engage your mind’s eye and focus on visualising the air going through you as you breathe. This also improves one’s ability to focus.
    • Mantra meditation: As the name implies, you do this by sitting calmly in a distraction-free environment while you repeating a word or phrase to ensure you’re focused and not distracted.

    4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

    Muscle tension is one of many ways your body reacts to anxiety and fear. If you notice, whenever you find yourself in an uncomfortable position, you find yourself sitting or standing upright. You stiffen your muscles, which leads to pain or aches in that part of the body.

    If that sounds like you, then Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is what you need. PMR is an exercise that helps you release those tighten muscles. Here is how simple and effective this is from personal experience:

    When I’m stressed or feeling anxious, my veins seem to grow and bulges out for anyone to see. Thanks to the knowledge of PMR, once I notice this, I hold my fist tightly for some seconds and then release it. Immediately, the veins won’t disappear from sight. This is said to not only return the muscles to their normal state, it makes them better.

    How Do You Do PRM?

    You do this by tensing the muscles in your body and releasing them after a few seconds— specifically 6-10. Start from your toe to your head.

    Reference

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    Mayowa Koiki

    Freelance Writer. Entrepreneur. An Avid Student of Life

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    Last Updated on September 28, 2020

    The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

    The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

    At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

    Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

    One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

    When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

    So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

    Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

    This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

    Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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    When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

    Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

    One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

    Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

    An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

    When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

    Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

    Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

    We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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    By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

    Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

    While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

    I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

    You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

    Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

    When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

    Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

    Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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    Con #2: Less Human Interaction

    One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

    Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

    Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

    This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

    While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

    Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

    Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

    This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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    For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

    Con #4: Unique Distractions

    Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

    For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

    To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

    Final Thoughts

    Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

    We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

    More About Working From Home

    Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

    Reference

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