The word "stress" has become incredibly loaded in our modern daily lives. One of those throwaway ideas that has become a catch-all for any situation, almost to the point that many of us are a little embarrassed to admit (even to ourselves) that we're experiencing it.
But we are living in genuinely stressful times - and it's okay to feel it.
Let's not kid ourselves, there has been plenty of stress in the world in previous years, decades and centuries due to countless wars, famines, natural disasters and bad politics, and many of us are incredibly lucky in so many ways. Having steady access to a safe place to live, good food and clean water is a genuine privilege in this day and age, and we all know it. But declaring any issues in your life beyond this to be "first world problems" really isn't helpful, especially in 2020.
Lots of us are experiencing new and additional stresses in our lives at the moment due to changed working conditions, being apart from family and friends, altered travel plans (yes, it's okay to be upset about this!) and increased pressure on home life.
At Cloud Nine Global, we've put a lot of thought into what we all need at the moment to help deal with the current climate, which was the inspiration for our new The Self Care and The Pamper packs, both designed to give you some much needed love and nurturing at a difficult time.
But there are also some other little things you can do to reduce stress levels - here are our favourite five:
1) Learn to say NO
This is actually pretty good life advice in general, actually. One of the biggest sources of stress in all our lives comes from being totally overstretched. We over-commit in an attempt to make other people happy and to live up to imagined standards, and end up wearing ourselves out. This is such a simple solution: just start saying no. No, I can't take on that extra work project. No, I don't want to come over for dinner on the weekend when I already have several other plans lined up. No, I'm not going to answer your phone call right now because I simply don't feel like it. No, no, no. Let's all say it together...
2) Assess your friendships and minimise toxic influences
This one's a little tough but can make a HUGE difference to stress levels. We all have at least one of those friends who mean well but are a major drain on you emotionally and mentally. Maybe they complain constantly, have negative opinions about everything, are always telling you what to do and/or experiencing endless dramas. Enough's enough.
Thank them for their friendship, wish them well and step away. These people can add to stress levels in an extraordinary and unexpected way. But aren't they a good friend of yours? No. Don't be deceived, these people are not healthy for you. So ease back on the contact, at least until you're feeling stronger and have more space in your life and mind to deal with them.
3) Do something nice for yourself each day
Treat yo'self. Even just something really small, like taking a bath or a nap, spending some time reading a good book, putting on a luxurious face mask or enjoying your favourite chocolate treat. The most important thing is to do it really consciously, be aware that you're enjoying a few moments of self care and be proud of yourself for taking such good care of your own wellbeing. Little gestures of self love can make such a difference, and really go a long way towards easing stress levels.
4) Get more sleep
We harp on a bit about the importance of sleep, we know. We even include luscious silk eye masks in all of our packs because we think there's nothing more vital when it comes to wellbeing. But it's true! After a good night's sleep, you really feel like you can take on the world. Problems seem less dramatic, everything is more manageable. Life is just easier and more enjoyable. If more sleep at night isn't possible, try to squeeze in a quick afternoon nap to top up the energy supplies. Even 15 minutes of shut-eye can make the world of difference.
5) Keep a stress diary
If you're still really feeling the pressure from all aspects of your life and are not sure how to deal with it, then keeping a stress diary can really help. It doesn't have to be anything too fancy, just keep a note each day of things that are worrying you, anything playing on your mind or causing any level of grief. Even little things can really add up, so writing them down in one place can be really helpful - and sometimes quite eye opening.