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  • Lucy Chaplin

Surprisingly simple ways to reduce your stress levels when working at home

Our families can be wonderful. They make us laugh, support us and the thought of them keeps us going when times are tough.

BUT

When you’re a parent working from home, trying to get things done to a tight deadline, constant requests for food/ location of clothing/ IT support can make you feel you want to explode because you just need some peace.

Many people I have talked to recently have described the stress they feel when trying to work at home.

Interruptions can feel continuous, and for those with small children who have little or no access to childcare at present, it’s a non-stop juggling act. Many parents are working until after midnight, just to keep on top of their usual workload.

Often it’s not just one big thing, but lots of small things that can tip you over the edge.

How can we reduce the feeling of stress?

A couple of things I have learnt in the past year can be really useful.

  1. Breathe

Probably the quickest way to reduce the stress levels! Regulation of your breathing is likely to be the fastest way to affect your central nervous system. Our nervous system decides whether we are in an anxious or relaxed state. It has been proved that spending a short period of time just focussing on steady breathing will reset the human equilibrium.

I’d never really thought about the expression ‘take a deep breath’ before I learnt more about different breathing techniques from Emma Slade, but now I see why it’s a phrase we all know.

When you’re interrupted, or your stress is added to in some way, pause before you react. Even taking 2 deep breaths can really help calm you, and taking about 20 really helps to reset our equilibrium. It also stops us doing or saying anything straight away, which is usually a good thing!

2. Move

I listened to a great Podcast on Becoming Stressproof with Dr Rangan Chatterjee and Dr Mithu Storoni in Dr Chatterjee’s series Feel Better Live More. In it, Dr Storoni describes how we all used to have to do lots of constant movements throughout the day - posting letters, answering the phone, going out to get food and so on.

Now, she explains, with our smartphones we can sit for much longer as we can do so many tasks on them. We might do some intense exercise in the evenings, but most of the day is spent sitting still. She said that in the past, each little stressor in the day would be buffered by low level movement during the next hour or so, as movement can lower cortisol, a hormone released by stress.

I thought this was fascinating, and have been trying to add as much movement as possible to my day to help buffer any mini stresses.

Can you increase the amount of movement you have in your day, even if it’s just around the house?

And finally…

3. Can you avoid any of the stress?

Impossible in some cases I know, but ask yourself, what are the most likely reasons your stress levels will rise today?

When might that happen?

What could you do to reduce the likelihood of it happening?

What advice would you give a friend if they were experiencing the same stressors as you?

There are many other ways to reduce stress, but I picked these out because so many people need things they can do immediately, without having to take time out of their busy schedules.

I hope you have a stress free week!

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