Is your work-life balance tipping you over the edge? Find calm with my tips to take your foot off the gas…
TAKE REGULAR BREAKS…
…every 90 minutes through the day, says Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan, Sleep Therapist at Nightingale Hospital and author of Tired But Wired.
“Get up and stretch, go and talk to someone, eat something, focus your eyes on something else. Set a timer to remind you if needed.”
If you’re getting distracted or procrastinating because you’re overwhelmed by a deadline, set up an to keep you focused. SelfControl (Mac) is a free app that temporarily blocks access to websites and mail servers. Cold Turkey (Windows) also blocks apps and websites on a schedule set by you in advance.
UNWIND FROM WORK
“Establish an unwinding ritual at the end of a working day,” says Professor Mark Cropley, psychologist and author of The Off Switch.
“During the last half an hour, make a to-do list for the next day and clear your desk. Your mind and body will come to anticipate winding down.”
TURN OFF THE TV
A third of us watch at least 3 hours of TV a day. “But if you’re mentally tired, sitting and watching television is probably the least effective way to unwind. If you look at a screen all day, you need different physiological and psychological tricks,” explains Professor Cropley.
Establish a place where you feel comfortable, happy and relaxed, and spend 20 minutes there.
“It could be a favourite armchair or a spot in the garden.”
CHANGE YOUR COMMUTE
People who drive to and from work are the most stressed and least able to concentrate, according to a study by the University of East Anglia. Public transport was found to be better for stress levels because it provides time to socialise or read, although cycling or walking is better.
In a survey of 2,500 cycle commuters, 89% said cycling helped them to wind down from work.
BOOK IN SOCIALISING!
Regularly timetable events such as cooking a meal from scratch or seeing friends, because if it’s in your diary it’s more likely to happen. Spending time with friends can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
“Plus, if you find yourself with nothing to do, your mind will leap back to work worries and pressures,” says Professor Cropley.
Switch off your phone after work or disable emails. The daily bombardment from texts, emails and social media causes ‘decision fatigue’ says neuroscientist Daniel Levitin in The Organized Mind.
Check emails 3 times a day, not as they come in. Spotting an email mid-task can reduce your IQ by 10 points.
…OR USE CLEVER TECH!
Using tech to control stress is surprisingly effective for some. The Pip measures stress reactions as you hold it between thumb and finger. It allows you to ‘see’ your stress levels and visualise your feelings.
It comes with 4 apps (Four Steps To Mindfulness, The Loom, Relax & Race and Stress Tracker), which teach you how to recognise stress and reduce it.
STILL FEELING FATIGUED AND OVERWHELMED?
See your GP, as one of the most common causes of fatigue, is iron deficiency anaemia. It is estimated that 90% of UK woman aged 16-54 don’t get the recommended daily amount of iron.
Boost your iron intake by increasing red meat, egg yolk and green vegetables in your diet and drinking orange juice with your meal to increase iron absorption. And try an iron supplement like Spatone, which helps top up levels without causing constipation.
PS: Any questions ping them at me, I answer every one, just ask.
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