It’s the time of the year when we start to mentally prepare ourselves…
For that moment when we write the wrong year on our assignments and documents! A new year is coming upon us!
Does the arrival of any kind of New Year (calendar, fiscal, academic) fill you with a renewed sense of purpose? Do you already have a list ready, steadily filling with resolutions you’re chomping at the bit to achieve?
(If you’re not that into the idea of resolution making, however, that’s perfectly fine, too.)
We understand how New Year resolutions always take a bit of determination and time to achieve, especially when they’re bigger goals, so Digital Senior has compiled a list of stress management habits for when things get a little too tough. Maybe they’ll even find a place on your list!
1. Taking deep breaths (and breathe in something nice)
Okay, you might be thinking, duh, because we’re always advised to breathe deeply when very emotional or stressed to calm down. Why, though, is this so effective?
Firstly, deep breaths evoke in us what is called the body’s ‘relaxation response’. A term coined by Dr. Herbert Benson, this is, in Dr. Benson’s words, “the process of de-escalating the stress response and inducing relaxation through activation of the parasympathetic nervous system”.
A recent study published in Science has also found that breathing has an effect on our brain activity. Conducted on mice, the study found that there is a direct connection between the brain’s arousal centre and the group of nerves that controls our breathing.
This, according to the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Mark Krasnow (Stanford University), means that if we breathe deeply, our brains will be less likely to go into hyperactivity. This will help keep you and your mind calm and more focused.
(Do note, however, that you should be taking slow deep breaths. Going overboard could cause dizziness or hyperventilation!)
Take things one step further by putting on some nice scents!
Aside from nice smells lifting our spirits and brightening the place up, aromatherapy is also said to have therapeutical effects. Rosemary, for example, is said to improve concentration and memory while citrus scents (lemon, for example), our immune systems.
If this tickles your fancy, diffuse some pure essential oils with the help of diffusers/oil burners in the comfort of your home; or mix them with a carrier oil (castor, jojoba, etc.)* and apply them directly to your skin. You could also mix them with other ingredients to create your own room spray! With many kinds of essential oil scents out there, there’s bound to be something that will become a favourite.
*Please do take note that you cannot and should not apply essential oils directly to your skin, because these are highly concentrated and can cause chemical burns, amongst other side-effects. If applying directly to your skin, make sure to test on a small patch of skin first for sensitivity.
2. Write a “reverse” bucket list
Do you have a bucket list? If you do, you’re probably striving to scratch some items off within this ‘new’ year.
While doing this, why not create a ‘reverse’ bucket list?
Basically, in a ‘reverse’ bucket list, you add things on a list instead of crossing them out.
What you add to this list are the things that you have accomplished, or feel an immense sense of achievement in having done. They don’t have to be super big things, just things that you find value in. Spent more time with your grandparents recently? That can go in. Saved up for a laptop? That, too. The sky’s the limit!
What this does is help you recall those fulfilling moments in your life, reminding you of the good things and all the progress that you’ve made. This helps provide you with encouragement and remind you that you’re more capable than you think you are. You could even recall a funny memory mid-write and burst into a mix of laughter and nostalgia in the process, or something crazy you did in the wild days of your youth. Who knows? We could always use more good feels!
3. Talk to a rubber duck
For those who are in serious doubt: No, we’re not trying to pull a fast one on you! Programmers and software engineers can attest to that. There is a method out there called “rubber duck debugging” whereby one perches a rubber duck in close proximity to their workstation and brings it through their coding, line by line, so they can puzzle out what’s wrong or how to move forward.
Does talking to a rubber duck really help that much, other than making you feel a little silly?
Yes! When you speak to that duck, you are articulating the entire issue or situation out; in the process of framing and explaining it to your attentive listener, you are also reframing things for yourself (as your duck, chances are, knows nothing about code and why you are choosing specific actions).
This way, you are made to approach the issue (whether it be assignments or something else) that’s causing you problems from different perspectives and in a more objective fashion, if need be. Talking to your inanimate friend also directs your focus and reduces distractions, both the conscious and unconscious.
Not only so, having “someone” to talk to or confide in will also help you feel better!
If you aren’t a rubber duck fan, or find talking to inanimate objects very weird, try talking to yourself first! Whichever floats your boat! Now get quacking.
4. Smile more
Most of us probably know how smiles, even if they’re forced ones, benefit us, but it’s always good to have a reminder! The benefits of smiling came into light after a study published in 2012, which enlisted 170 college students under the guise of a multi-tasking experiment, found that smiling has significant positive effects on our persons.
Smiling –especially when it’s a Duchenne smile, where your eyes ‘crinkle’—sends signals to our brains, which leads to the release of the endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. These are our feel-good transmitters that also help to reduce blood pressure and our heart rates! So smiling, all the more when you don’t feel like it, helps you both physically and psychologically.
Not bad for something that’s free and familiar to us.
Therefore, smile whenever you can! In your room, at school, when you’ve missed your train, anytime and anywhere. No matter how funny or awkward it is whatever helps, helps.
What are you waiting for? Pick up some of these habits as this year draws to a close, and take them with you into a stress-less 2018.
The Digital Senior team wishes you a Happy New Year, and that you will achieve all that you put your mind to!