It’s that time of the year when everything seems to be moving a bit too fast, leaving you feeling frazzled and overwhelmed. Work, family and a wealth of daily commitments usually keeps life busy enough but, at year-end, every day becomes so chock-a-block with pressing things to do that your every waking moment feels as if it’s diarised within an inch of its life.
At times like this, when extra tasks are being added to your already tottering pile of commitments, it’s easy to feel as if you’re on a super-charged treadmill, racking up serious stress. While it may not be realistic to expect you to scale down on your responsibilities right now, try these seven ways to boost your wellbeing and calm your mind, so that you’re better able to cope with the challenges of the day:
Bump up your Vitamin C intake
Opt for drinks with lemon in them. The vitamin C content helps to minimise the effects of stress hormones in the body, say researchers at the University of Alabama in the USA. Vitamin C in particular, is one of the first minerals to be depleted in the body when a person is under stress, so sip on a cup of lemon tea to benefit from its calming, strengthening effect on the nervous system, or add the juice of one lemon to a smoothie mix of 2 cups apple juice and a handful of grapes. Just the smell of a lemon will also have a positive effect on anxiety and lift your mood so look at diffusing this essential oil in your office space.
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It’s 2am and you’re wide awake…
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential during stressful times, but going to bed with nerves that feel shredded can result in you waking up at 2am, with your to-do list looping on repeat in your head. If your racing mind is regularly stopping you from getting enough rest, take intentional steps to wind down before bedtime. Things like taking a bath and spraying your pillow with lavender essential oil will help you switch off and relax – make these an essential part of a calming, self-care ritual before bedtime.
A guided sleep meditation is a brilliant aid to falling asleep. Try the highly effective 10 Minute Guided Imagery Meditation or the longer, deeply relaxing Guided Sleep Meditation for Insomnia. If later on at night, you awake, and struggle to fall asleep again, calm whirling thoughts by counting slowly backwards from 100, or try this breathing technique: Breathe in for one count, out for two, in for two, out for four, in for three, out for six, up to in for six and out for 12, then repeat backwards all the way down to one. Another good tip is to keep homeopathic remedies like Natura Rescue tablets (excellent to take the edge off mild anxiety) by your bedside table and take them as required.
Breathe in the calm…
When things feel frantic, burning a candle or blend of oils can help you relax. A blend of neroli and frankincense oils will have a calming effect, while a candle with a comforting scent like vanilla, will soothe frazzled nerves. Or, keep a little bottle of rose oil on hand as it is deeply calming and uplifting. Dab this onto your pulse points when you need to keep things under control.
A more balanced life
In a hurly burly world, the only thing you can control is your reaction to what’s happening around you. For a calm, more mindful approach to life, start off every morning with a guided meditation. It sets the tone for a balanced day, where you feel better equipped to handle whatever comes your way. Insight Timer is a brilliant free app for anxiety, stress and sleep. It has thousands of free guided meditations, which you can search for by theme, length or instructor, and features some of the best meditation teachers of our time, plus meditation sessions with celebrities known for their keen interest in mindfulness, like Elizabeth Gilbert, Russell Brand and Gisele Bundchen.
Get someone in to help at home
After a stressful work week, the last thing you feel like doing is tackling chores around the house and garden. Take some of the pressure off yourself by hiring an expert, efficient and reliable cleaner from SweepSouth. The online portal is SA’s biggest on-demand home service, and has recently expanded its offering to include painters, gardeners, handymen and plumbers, as well as home cleaners. Now you can, at the touch of a button, hire someone for a morning to fix household snags and tidy the garden. It also helps that someone else has done the background checks on your behalf, which leaves you with even more me-time.
Take a zinc supplement
In addition to Vitamin C, it’s a good idea to consider a zinc supplement to boost your immune system. Zinc, one of the health heavyweights, is the second most abundant trace element in the body and helps build healthy immune cells needed to fight infection. It also reduces fatigue and plays a key role in the renewal of skin cells and keeping hair and nails healthy, concerns that often affect diabetics.
According to the International Zinc Association (IZA), zinc is required by all living things for survival. In fact, Simon Norton of the IZA says, “zinc is essential for human health as it is in our organs, tissues, bones, fluids, and cells.”
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It’s okay to flop… down and relax
This one is a hard one for driven souls to admit, but it’s okay to take some time out and do nothing. Create a pocket of time, even if it’s just once a week, where you forget about commitments and to-do lists, and focus solely on something you enjoy. Choose an activity that’s easily achievable and entirely for your pleasure, whether it’s yoga, watching your favourite series or baking. Switching into relaxation mode and doing something for your own benefit, especially if it’s something that you love, strengthens and energises you.
It’s easy to get so swept along by the tide of busyness that we forget about ourselves and our own health. But remember that tomorrow will be just as full of demands as today is. Don’t lose sight of the fact that occasionally, even if it’s just for a few minutes, you need to stop, slow things down, take a couple of deep breaths…and just let life be.