As you might have noticed, I’ve been posting here and there about my exams and just general busy-ness, so I thought this post would be ridiculously timely for everyone, including me! So, here are some tips that I’ve picked up that have worked for me!
A note: stress is not, in itself, a sign of mental health problems. Everybody gets stressed, and that’s unfortunately a part of life. What you need to look out for is if stress makes any mental health problems worse, or if the stress is getting to a level where you’re no longer able to function. Finally, I know that a lot of these seem pretty obvious, but it is amazing what taking care of yourself will do for your productivity.
- Make sure you have three square meals a day
I don’t know about you, but my mental health is really dependent on my eating. If I haven’t eaten, or only eaten unhealthy foods, my anxiety and depression can overwhelm me fast. Making sure I eat three healthy(ish) meals a day is a surefire way of making sure that I’m feeling as good as possible. Cooking something nice for yourself can also be really good self-care, and makes you take a quick break.
- If possible, take a day off
If it isn’t – a night off. Or an hour or two off. Constantly working will make you burn out, but regular breaks will help make sure that when you are working, you’re working efficiently.
- Go outside
When I get very stressed, I drop everything and go to the park. Taking a break and petting some dogs always does me good. Also, stretching my legs and getting some light exercise is always helpful.
- Break things down into little steps
I am a big proponent of to-do lists and breaking big tasks into little, achievable goals. For example, over this spring break, I’ve had to write 15,000 words of essay. I’ve broken that down into achievable word goals for every day of my break – about 1000 words a day, with days off. If I don’t achieve my exact word goal, I can make up for it on my days I’ve scheduled to be off.
- Clean up
This might just be me, but I find cluttered surroundings make me anxious. (This is especially annoying because I am quite a messy person!) Doing a quick clean up gives me time to think and ensures I don’t get anxious about the mess. If cleaning up is difficult – as I know it can be, especially when depressed – try doing one task every couple of hours. Morning, take out the trash. Noon, wash the dishes. Afternoon, make the bed. Little steps.
- Have a cuddle
This is, of course, if you’re not touch-averse, and only if you find cuddles soothing. I personally find it very relaxing to have my head on my partner’s chest and his arms around me. We often chat about things in our day, or I have a little snooze. A quick 20 minutes of relaxing can do the world of good.
Of course, not all of these ideas will work for you, or are practical – and that’s okay! For example, on lists of tips about self-care, hot baths and things are often recommended. But they don’t work for me (the steam from a hot bath makes me anxious) so I don’t do that! It’s all down to what will make you happiest, and less stressed. Above all though – please take time for you. Health and happiness is important – and so are you.