By now, each of us seems to be in a state of constant stress. From time to time, however, there are still phases in life that are even more stressful than others – Christmas time, a project deadline, or just a random collection of trivial things that will take your breath away. However, there are some stress management techniques, particularly the longer you are exposed to stress.
Often it is difficult to take breaks when in a stressful phase. But even in stressful times, breaks are important in order to recover physically and mentally from stress. To remember that pauses are also part of a stressful everyday life, you should enter them in the appointment book and treat them the same way as any appointment: breaks must not be canceled and postponed. Within this time window no tasks may be done. Instead, you can pursue a hobby, meet with friends, or watch a movie. Even small breaks ensure that you are more focused and motivated at work afterwards.
You can do anything – but not everything at the same time. If you are overwhelmed by the many tasks you have to deal with, think about where to get help with stress. It is no shame to ask others for help in order to focus on the most important tasks. Try to give unimportant tasks to colleagues or ask your roommates or partners to take over household tasks. But even if that is not possible, think about whether some tasks can be postponed. The apartment does not mind if it is not cleaned for a few days, the laundry can be done later and there is nothing wrong with ordering food in stressful times rather than cooking it yourself.
To cope with stress, one would most like to go regularly to the spa or the sauna. For most, however, this is not possible and would also require additional effort. But even your bathroom can turn into a mini-spa. Treat yourself to a very special bath: light candlesand your favorite sweets. For a moment, you can just dive and leave the stress behind. Even if you do not have time for a full bath or do not have a bath, you can use water to help with stress. Turn your shower into an experience by turning on relaxing music, dimming the light, using extra-fragrant shower gel, or warming the towels.
When you are stressed, you tend to get yourself confused and concentrate only on the stressors. At the same time, you can get lonely too fast, which intensifies your negative feelings. In the planned breaks, you should therefore regularly pay attention to meet with other people. Meeting with friends or family does not just make you breathe and relax for a change. Often it helps to discuss the stressful situation with others, to see them in a different light and maybe to find new ideas!
Of course, it is better to avoid excessive stress in advance. However, if this is not possible, one should not forget to schedule regular breaks and maintain one’s social contacts. In times of stress, it is also important to consider which tasks you can postpone. Last but not least, a hot bath or a long shower can help you to relax quickly!
Merve Bahar is a third-year psychology student from the University of Salzburg in Austria, and she is doing an internship at Willingness during the summer. Her personal focus is on gender, multicultural identities and combating the sigmatization of mental disorders.