With the Christmas and New Year holidays just around the corner and most companies ramping up to close off their financial year, things can get extremely hectic at work (and life, in general!).
That doesn’t mean that just because you have work to do, you can’t properly exercise self-care in the comforts of your own desk. So what’s a girl to do when you are caught up with to-do lists and meetings and can’t even get to your yoga class in time or at all? It is possible to survive the year-end work and holiday frenzy without feeling frantic! We’ve rounded up a few pointers on self-care when workloads are at an all-time high and you’re momentarily glued to your desk and left counting down till you can take that much-deserved Christmas holiday.
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1. Listen to calming music
It’s as easy as searching for meditative or relaxing music on YouTube or our favourite, Spotify. The soothing power of music is well-established as an effective stress management tool. It has a link to our emotions, so it can be extremely effective in calming us down. Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet classical music or meditative music that features nature sounds like the sounds of waves crashing on the shore or the rhythmic falling of the rain on the earth. So put on those headphones (noise-cancelling, if you may) and start your own music therapy session. Bonus tip from us – access the Stress Relief Playlist on Spotify to kick-start your office self-care journey.
2. Try apps like Headspace
Take five minutes out of your day’s schedule to pipe in to a mobile meditation app like Headspace. Now, we’re not gunning for nirvana or enlightenment here (though those are awesome, too!) – apps like Headspace have been scientifically-researched to help reduce anxiety and stress. It can be an exercise in mindfulness, which their website describes as “the ability to be present, to rest in the here and now, fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment.” Might sound hifalutin to some, but it’s really a great way to keep your mind clear and laser-focused, as well as put some “oommm” to your work days. That’s always a plus in our books! Might help you blaze through your work to-do list like the seasoned pro that you are, afterwards!
3. Eat food that help reduce stress
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There are tonnes of literature out there that preach the value of eating healthy foods, but did you know that there’s a segment of nutritional research that devotes itself to studying food that help calm us down? Yes, you can eat yourself to calmness! It involves a balance of eating less processed foods and sugars and topping your diet up with these yummy eats that can help fight stress – according to MindBodyGreen, these are: eggs (contain lecithin and choline needed for proper nervous system function), walnuts / flaxseeds / sardines / salmon (rich in omega-3s that lower inflammation in the body), rooibos / chamomile / green tea (L-theanine is a stress-relieving compound that shows changes in brain waves that indicate relaxation), and green leafy vegetables / avocados / dark chocolate (all have magnesium that helps lower stress and anxiety levels). We all know that a healthy diet means a healthy mind so it never hurts to eat clean and eat well to keep you in tip-top shape and beat stress!
4. Do simple stretching exercises
A healthy mind (read: no stress!) starts with a healthy body and we advocate doing at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, but we understand that there are days when this just seems physically impossible. Work can be physically – and emotionally – exhausting at times, so here are a few exercise tips you can do in the comforts of your own workspace when it’s tough to put on those sneakers and drag yourself to that class. These – or you can always (a) take the stairs instead of the lift or (b) get yourself a standing desk so you can work your core and glutes while dominating the corporate world one email and meeting at a time.
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5. Take a break and breathe
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Yes, it’s as simple as that. We often forget to take a proper break when we’re caught up in accomplishing our daily work tasks and running around to meet that deadline. It’s not only healthy to stop and pause for a while, it’s also great for your creativity and decision-making skills. Taking a break helps restore your focus and motivation – not doing so actually decreases your productivity and eventually results in a total burnout. A break will enable you to recalibrate your brain so you can make a proper assessment of a situation – a tired brain will only default to a decision that takes the least amount of effort, even if that one is not the most effective. Creatively, taking a break helps you with your concentration and imagination and may help spark that state of “flow” – aka being in the zone, where some of our best and most inspired ideas take flight.
What can also help you take a break effectively is to practice mindful breathing. Every one of us breathes on auto-pilot (obviously J), but it helps us exercise our concentration skills when we pay close attention to it – how our breathing makes our chest rise up and down, how the air fills up our lungs when we breathe in, how it empties when we make a full exhalation. Yoga practitioners are familiar with how mindful breathing can help calm down your frazzled nerves. Instead of your usual breathing pattern, try to breathe in deeply to a rhythmic count of four, hold it, exhale to another count of four, hold, and repeat as necessary. You can also try to exhale by gently closing either (or alternately) your right or left nostril with your finger so you are conscious of how your body expands and contracts as you take in and respire air. That easy, you can do it while drinking a cup of green tea or crossing out items on your daily task list!