For many people work demands long hours of concentration and dedication. You may feel driven to finish a task to achieve a deadline, ensure client satisfaction, or attain a quota. All these factors can be very stressful but they also motivate people to work harder.
Even at home there are stressful situations. Your child may be failing in her studies, or you might be late paying your rent or bills, or a family member might be ill. The very thought of these problem can raise your level of anxiety.
If you unable to prioritize what is important, you may feel overwhelmed and stressed every single day. Try to list things in order of importance, not forgetting to note what could be done by someone else. Sometimes it is best to remove yourself entirely from a stressful situation and break away from everything, even for half an hour.
Hobbies and pastimes are very good at relieving stress. You can escape from thinking about problems by concentrating on things that you find interesting and fun. There are many activities that you might enjoy – try some and see how you get on. A few examples follow:
If you like singing, consider joining a choir. Singing in your bathroom is not a bad idea. You can enjoy singing almost anywhere as long as you are not bothering anyone.
If you are have always wanted to explore the visual arts try buying a sketchbook and some pencils or any other art materials which attract you. Take the opportunity to visit an art gallery. Join a painting class.
If you are fascinated by words try writing a story or a poem, or a letter (not a text or an email).
Learn to sew, to knit, to make pots, to play and instrument. Join a car maintenance class. Take up aerobics. Play Scrabble, or bridge, or chess, or draughts, or dominos, or darts. Brew beer. Grow vegetables.
The possibilities are endless.
Physical activities are not only good for stress relief but can also improve your health. You could join a gym. Team sports engage both your mind and your body, and need not be competitive – you can play “friendlies” – but they do require a group of like-minded people. Tennis, squash, badminton, table-tennis, golf need only two of you. Running, cycling and swimming you can do on your own. You could join a dance class. Or a climbing club. Or you could play a fitness video or use the Wii.
Sometimes the activity brings its own stress, but it will be different – it can be left behind at the end of the game or session. And you have the choice about whether or not to continue with the activity, whereas most of us have no choice about whether or not we go to work. It is easier to sleep well after physical exertion than with mental exhaustion. You can import anger or frustration from another part of your life and work through it in a safe environment.
Long hours of work and monotonous activities month after month can contribute to stress. Take a holiday away from your work if you can. If you think you deserve a break, book some time off (this might well have to be negotiated with colleagues) and try to get away. Or stay at home but tell people you will be away, and really relax. Get to know your own area by walking about – you might find interesting places to visit on your doorstep, and it would be much cheaper than a conventional holiday.