It’s Stress Awareness Month, and the Love Middlesbrough Lasses are well aware of what stress is – life isn’t all just pretty photos and nice blog posts unfortunately. We also know that our mental health is important, so this is probably going to be a long one as we share our ways of de-stressing.
What’s important is to first realise what stress is. Stress is a very common mental health problem that everyone experiences at some point in their life – whether it’s work, school or moving house, we all experience stress. The important thing here is to recognise your signs of stress and try to combat them immediately, as stress can lead to some mental health problems that are a lot more difficult to deal with. We’re not doctors, so check out the NHS website for symptoms of stress and even more ways to deal with it.
I think I might be the most easily impacted Love Middlesbrough Lass when it comes to stress, so I do my best to combat it. My greatest technique is to try and avoid it in the first place – I like to work without people talking in the background so often have music on. I also have several de-stressing techniques if prevention isn’t possible.
One of my favourite de-stress techniques is a nap – always. If I’m stressed, a nap on the sofa is the best thing for me. That’s not often possible at work, in an office with no sofas, so this is more an after-work thing.
I’ve found the best way to de-stress whilst at work is to leave my desk. If I’m getting particularly agitated, I’ll go outside and walk around the car park, or just go make a cup of tea or fill up my water bottle. Just five minutes away from your desk can do more than you think – and it also helps you physically.
As a Love Middlesbrough Lass, I love food and baked goods. Whipping up some cookies or cakes is both fun and great for unwinding. You can take your anger out on the butter and the eggs and at the end of it you have cake – win-win situation there. Also, it makes everyone in the office a little happier to have a homemade cookie at lunch.
I do personally use therapy too, so if your stress persists for quite a while and it’s starting to worry you, then you might want to see a doctor or talk to a charity such as MIND or Insight. You may need professional advice. It’s not a bad thing to need therapy – sometimes you just need the help of an expert. They can often give you techniques or tasks to do to help, and might be able to find the cause of your stress.
In true Claire-form I don’t just have one thing that always works to de-stress me, but that’s probably a good thing I think, just in case there was something preventing me from doing that one thing cos that would just cause even more stress! My number one choice though would always be to go outside. A walk outside for 10 minutes is absolutely the best thing I can do to clear my head. It helps me get some perspective on what’s stressing me out so much and somehow the motion of the walking helps to calm me down and bring me back to some sense of normality. Come rain or shine if you see me marching around looking serious, I’ll be de-stressing.
Another pro-tip from me is to take some time out for yourself. For me, this means grabbing my current read, taking myself off somewhere quiet and having some quality alone time with just some words for company. My love of reading has been covered multiple times across the blog, but I think the de-stress and reading thing harks back to being a mini-me when I went to bed every night with a bedtime story. From that daily practice words became associated with peace and quiet, so as soon as I pick up a book a sense of calm instantly takes over.
My final tip is one that might not be for everyone, but I can highly recommend a spot of gardening for some serious de-stressing. It’s probably a combination of being outdoors, growing stuff (especially stuff that you can eat) and some good old-fashioned physical exercise. Hey, if it’s good enough for Monty Don, it’s definitely good enough for me! Oh and even if you don’t have a garden, try growing some stuff in pots on your windowsill – tomatoes and chillies will both grow inside and it’s just so exciting when you can eat stuff that you’ve grown yourself!
My best tip to de-stress usually combines three of my favourite things – photography, eating, and travelling – and is very simple: escape!
Physically removing yourself from the cause of your stress – whether it’s work, people, whatever – is soooo good for the soul! Luckily we’re connected to some fantastic places in Middlesbrough, from beaches to cities, and any change of scenery is helpful. My favourite places to escape to are Saltburn (which I told you all about in English Tourism Week) and York.
Being able to organise my own plans, make my own decisions about where to go, and eat when and what I like, are very therapeutic to me. It needn’t be expensive either – a return to Saltburn on the train costs between £4 and £6 depending on when you travel. If you take your own sandwiches, that’s a pretty cheap day out!
For people with a bigger budget, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret… Amsterdam! Okay, so Amsterdam itself can’t really be classed as a secret, but flying there from Durham Tees Valley Airport might be.
On a complete whim, I booked a trip there in December 2016, flying from DTV because it was close and it was the first time I’d flown abroad alone, so I wanted a small airport. Amsterdam itself was absolutely magical, and I daydream about it almost as often as I daydream about cake (which is a lot)!
It sounds silly but just being able to go off for a few days without having to think about anyone else, and getting lost in miles and miles of beautiful colourful buildings and reflections on canals, was amazingly beneficial. I get stressed out by the feeling of not being in control, especially relying on someone to do something before I can do something else. So knowing I’d been brave enough to just up and go to another country gave me back some control when I felt like I didn’t really have any influence over what was happening in my life.
And that in a nutshell (albeit a large nutshell) is my tip for de-stressing: get away for an hour, or a day, or a month, and enjoy the change of scenery.