Feeling stressed? You should get out more

Stress is an everyday feature of work, whether you’re freelance / self-employed or an employee of another business.

Prolonged stress is exhausting. It messes with your sleep and it messes with your thought-processes. As a result, you make more mistakes and feel increasingly out of control leading, of course, to even greater stress.

If you work from home, those feelings can sometimes be compounded by being alone – either through an explicit feeling of loneliness or, more insidiously, through having no colleagues to vent, laugh or commiserate with.

What to do?

Here are three ways to get out of that over-stressed funk.

1.  Get out of your house

Working from home sometimes means there’s no escape.

It often there’s means no sun and no oxygen, either.

Do your body, and your mind, a favour and get outside.

Take a walk in the woods, the Japanese call it “forest bathing”; feel your pace slow, your shoulders relax and wash yourself in the oxygen-rich atmosphere and the wonder of trees.

Or take a trip to the seaside; smell the sea, hear the gulls, feel the salt on your skin. It’s good for you.

Perhaps, hill or mountain-walking is more your thing. Hike for your health: space, fresh air, solitude and exercise.

2.  Get out of breath

We’re not designed for desks. In fact, we’re not much designed for modern living.

We need physical exercise to offset the lack of activity in our normal, daily lives. It’s good for our physique and the endorphins released by exercise help our mood.

But physical exercise directly reduces our stress levels, too:

Regular aerobic exercise will bring remarkable changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart, and your spirits. It has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.

Exercising to Relax, Harvard Health Publishing

3.  Get out of your head

Your mind’s never still. Left to its own devices, your mind will keep returning to its thoughts, like a dog worrying an old bone.

But distraction is a powerful force. Focus your mind on something that requires your full attention.

Becoming absorbed in an activity you love will work wonders for your mood and stress, especially if there’s a clear achievement at the end:

…or that DIY project finally completed, the garden tended, the car cleaned and polished.

Great films have the same effect, whether feel-good classics like Local Hero or suspense-filled thrillers, action movies and horror films. Just sit back and be absorbed by the magic.

Get ahead of stress

Long-term, prolonged stress is bad for your health. The Stress Management Society gives a suitably scary list of its effects:

Prolonged stress undoubtedly makes people ill. It is now known to contribute to heart disease, hypertension and high blood pressure, it affects the immune system, is linked to strokes, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), ulcers, diabetes, muscle and joint pain, miscarriage, allergies, alopecia and even premature tooth loss.

Taking control is often the first step in beating stress, so take steps to get out more: out of your house, out of breath or out of your head.

For more information on managing stress, try these sites:

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