What is it about advice from Mom? When we were young, we vowed we would never, ever, in a million, zillion years do all the horrible things our moms did. Now, many of us open our mouths and hear our mother’s words pour out. And we’re proud of them…
Girlfriend Leyla Al-Sharif send advice from the UK. Her mom did a great job of teaching her ways to get through the stressful times and she’s sharing those tips with us.
If you didn’t know, last Sunday was Mothers’ Day in the UK; when I was searching for inspiration for my Girlfriendology guest post, I suddenly had an epiphany: why not impart some knowledge I gained from the most important woman in my life? Working in a high-pressured, target-driven office is often a source of stress for me; despite this, I try to use a set of stress-busting tactics my ‘mama’ once taught me and I would like to share them with my fellow Girlfriends.
Banish the Negative, Embrace the Positive
It’s hard to believe, but ‘good stress’ does exist. The secret is to use this good stress to cope with the bad stress; my mum always taught me to try and think positively and concentrate on the positive elements. Every time I feel the office stress is making me doubt my abilities, I try to remember the positive comments I have received from my boss, colleagues and friends. We are strong, intelligent and go-getting Girlfriends: we just need to tell ourselves once in a while!
Check Things off Your List
Thinking about what you’ve got to do can be very depressing and before you know it you might feel like you’re sinking in metaphorical quicksand. But just the simple act of writing down all your tasks can really help ease stress. Prioritizing or crossing off unnecessary jobs can make you feel much better. I became acquainted with making lists whilst I was at university; dealing with working a stressful part-time job and an academically challenging Bachelor’s degree can denote high pressure. Creating a visual reminder not only helps you organise your life and maintain a work-life balance, but also gives you a well-earned confidence boost.
It’s OK to Switch-off sometimes!
It’s not always easy to physically escape the office environment but you can do it to some extent without actually leaving the building. I always give my mum a quick phone call, as talking about things that are not job related can help to relax you. It’s not just a vanity pep talk, talking to someone you love and lean on for support can help increase the production of hormones designed to make us feel better.
Another kind of ‘escape’ is listening to music; thanks to my mum I realised the value of incorporating classical music into my music playlist. It is a well-told story in my household that when my mum brought me home as a newborn, she played the albums of the opera star Mario Lanza and it helped induce calm for not only mother, but baby too! It has long been thought that the music of Mozart in particular is useful as studies suggest that it can improve things such as communication, creativity, and the effective performance of tasks. If Mozart isn’t to your taste, then listen to what is as this can help reduce the levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Now, I listen to classical music while treating myself to a foot spa and hot towels from my towel warmer, coupled with working on my blogging hobby in my downtime.
Don’t Neglect Your Calcium!
Once I finished university and started working as an intern, I quickly realized that the coffee house became my official second home – thanks to coffee runs for the boss – and caffeine was a much-needed vice to get through the stressful days. Going home for the weekend, my mum was shocked at my unhealthy routine of often substituting food for coffee and advised me to up my calcium intake with milk. I later found out drinking milk produces serotonin, thus producing an extra bonus!
Always Finish What You Started
My mum has always instilled in me the ethos of not being a quitter or leaving anything incomplete. I quickly learned after joining the career ladder that my ‘mama’ was right; research has suggested that it is better to finish work off in the office because taking it home with you could increase your chance of suffering health problems. Don’t just focus on finishing off work to meet targets, finish your tasks for the benefit of your stress levels.
A Clean Work Area Produces a Clean Mind
This was a popular mantra in my house growing up and research has suggested there is an element of truth in this. When I started working in an office, I quickly found out that working space is limited and looking at a pile of awaiting documents is so de-motivating. A tidy, clutter-free desk, on the other hand, can really help clear your mind and make you more productive.
I was an avid junior competition tennis player in my school days, coupled with a healthy dose of physical education in my high school curriculum. I was definitely a team player, captaining the tennis and lacrosse teams; however, at university I seemed to neglect my fitness and as a result, my energy levels severely dipped. My mum inspired me to get up and move when I feel stressed. Taking a break for around quarter of an hour and stretching those tense muscles can really help alleviate symptoms of stress. I work in an office environment within a great British countryside setting, absolutely perfect for escapist walks! Walking really helps: once you feel calm, you can deal with things more productively.
Games are actually beneficial
My mum was a great advocate of using games to both engage and educate us in our downtime from school. As I got older, I found that playing games can be a useful break from a stress-inducing situation and I ensured that the tradition of ‘game night’ still stands in my household as a way to unwind, relax and remember that it’s OK to have fun sometimes!
Write everything down
My mum always taught me that when things are getting me down, I should try to articulate myself through writing rather than a heated, emotional conversation. Either by writing your worries in a notepad as a stream of consciousness or as a chronological journal, you will find a pattern of stress triggers that you can address and start to think about approaching your life priorities from a reflective standpoint.
LEYLA AL-SHARIF is a British freelance writer and self-confessed digital lover. A Bachelor’s degree graduate of English and French, Leyla is in her first graduate job and lives in the UK. She describes herself as being the modern graduate, intrepidly exploring the secrets to a harmonious work-life balance and a huge advocate of constantly developing, both professionally and personally.
What are your tips for reducing the anxiety-producing stress in your life?
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