Master the Art of Stress Relief With These 5 Tips

Finding it stressful having to transition back to the office? These tips will help you find inner peace.

While some people are itching to return to their office, many others are feeling anxious about it. As of yesterday, some of you would have returned to your workplace after more than a year of working from home as the default. Returning to our day-to-day responsibilities at the workplace and getting ourselves back into routines like taking public transportation, and having to find reliable solutions for childcare, are issues a lot of us will be facing.

Though this adjustment will require enormous mental energy, don’t let this consume you! If you’re looking for tips to counter the stress and anxiety that comes with the transition back to the office, we’ve got you covered with these five tips to minimise stress. So, take it one day at a time, and remember to breathe, practice self-care and keep your chin up!

1. Lie down and meditate

Savasana is a practice of gradually relaxing one body part at a time, one muscle at a time, and one thought
at a time.

Meditation is an effective practice that helps the body stay in tune with the heart and mind. During most forms of meditation, it’s important that the body remain as stable and still as possible. This physical stability supports the mind, as it acquires and sustains a state of awareness. While certain forms of meditation — such as walking — require movement, there’s a little-known yet effective technique that can help revitalise you: lying down meditation.
This is actually a yoga pose, commonly referred to as the ‘corpse pose’ or savasana. This pose wraps up a yoga session, and is often said to be the most challenging of the poses since it requires complete relaxation while still maintaining an awareness of your breathing.
Savasana is practised lying down flat on the back. The body is completely at rest, arms at the sides and palms up. If it’s more comfortable, a pillow or other types of support can be placed under the head or knees. Even if you don’t practice yoga, the meditative aspect of this pose can be very powerful because you encourage your habitual mental activities to be switched off, as you breathe into the core and let go. 
Choose a time for meditation, and remain centred on the breath until the session is finished. Try using
Insight Timer — a free meditation app available on both Google Play and iTunes — to set the length of your session and track your progress.

2. Use guided imagery

Guided imagery helps you use your imagination to take you to a calm and peaceful place.

While meditation helps you immerse yourself in the here and now, guided imagery involves allowing your mind to drift off to your ‘happy place’. Whether that’s a white sandy beach, rolling hills, or a peaceful garden, imagining yourself in that setting can be one of the best ways to relax and calm your mind. It's pleasant to practice, and not overly difficult to learn. Not only can guided imagery help you to de-stress in minutes, it can also be a useful strategy for maintaining resilience toward stress during difficult times.
Because of the way the mind and body are connected, guided imagery can make you feel like you are experiencing something just by imagining it. You can practice guided imagery with audio recordings, an instructor, or by using your inner voice and imagination. Using your own thoughts is a popular method, simply because this takes the least amount of preparation and expense. 
For example, if you want a tropical setting, you can imagine the warm breeze on your skin, the bright blue of the water, the sound of the waves splashing, the sensation of feeling sand between your toes, and the taste of coconut, so that you actually feel like you are there. 
To give guided imagery a try, follow these steps:

  • Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes.
  • Start by just taking a few deep breaths to help you relax.
  • Picture a setting that is calm and peaceful. This could be a beach, a mountain setting, a meadow, or a scene that you choose.
  • Imagine your scene, and try to add some detail. For example, is there a breeze? How does it feel? What do you smell? What does the sky look like? Is it clear, or are there clouds?
  • It often helps to add a path to your scene. For example, as you enter the meadow, imagine a path leading you through the meadow to the trees on the other side. As you follow the path farther into the meadow, you feel more and more relaxed.
  • When you are deep into your scene and are feeling relaxed, take a few minutes to breathe slowly and feel the calm.
  • Count to three and open your eyes. You should now feel serene and alert.

3. Get active 

 As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension
in the body.

Sometimes, instead of worrying about how to calm your mind, getting active can help to quieten a busy mind. This then encourages you to become more aware of your body, and how it moves through the world.
Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances wellbeing through the release of endorphins. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you'll get a bigger benefit if you pay attention instead of zoning out.
For example, when you’re running or jogging, try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. By adding this mindfulness element — really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise — you’ll not only improve your physical condition faster, but you may also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head.

4. Write it down

One way to ease stress and promote relaxation, is by letting your feelings out on the page. 

The physical act of writing something down is a powerful way to process information and experiences, notice patterns and cultivate creativity. Journalling helps you harness your emotions, whether you’re trying to release anxiety, find clarity or practice gratitude. When you do this regularly, you’re better equipped to build resilience and be more present in your life.

Intrigued, but unsure where to begin? The best thing to do is to just start. Set a timer for five minutes, and start writing about anything in the world until the timer goes off. Do this a couple times a week, as soon as you wake up in the morning, before you grab your phone, or before you go to sleep. Think of it as a way to offload whatever’s on your mind. Giving yourself a specific, short period of time makes it easier to turn occasional journalling into a regular habit.

The important thing to remember is there are really no rules. If you struggle with expressive writing, try keeping a gratitude journal or recording your dreams. You could journal about a specific goal and the progress you’re making, or write about travel — either past or planned. Draw, doodle, and simply express yourself. You can find journals with all kinds of prompts and themes, but if you’d prefer to pave your own way, come up with your own prompts. 

Here are some ideas:

  • Make a list of 10 things you’re grateful for.
  • Identify the things that are making you feel overwhelmed.
  • What’s something you wish more people knew about you?
  • Write about a cherished childhood moment.
  • Create a list of what inspires you — music, people, books, websites, etc.

5. Connect with nature

Leave your screens, your deadlines and your worries behind, get yourself outside among the trees.

Many people enjoy spending time in nature. But did you know that time among the trees is therapeutic? Forest therapy is a growing practice that promises benefits for your mind and your body. It can help you relax and refuel — and give you a break from the devices, worries and stress that can dominate your daily life.

Rooted in the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, which is often translated as ‘forest bathing,’ the term refers simply to immersing yourself in the atmosphere of the forest. Taking in the sights and sounds of the forest can help you relax. But it’s not just our brains that get a boost, there’s evidence that forest therapy is good for our bodies, too.

One study showed that forest therapy reduces cortisol, a stress hormone. Another study found that forest therapy had a positive impact on blood pressure and adiponectin, a protein that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Although the focus of forest therapy isn’t on physical exercise, regular practice can help you lead a less sedentary lifestyle. Consider exploring the Clementi Forest along the Rail Corridor after Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, the Learning Forest in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, as well as Telok Blangah Hill Park for a breath of fresh air.

Taking care of our psychological safety and mental health when returning to the workplace, will be no less important than taking care of our physical safety and wellbeing. Failing to do so will only amp up stress on our immune system, reducing our capacity for other challenges of transitioning back to work (like dusting off your work wardrobe).

While all these suggestions are great ways to calm your mind, remember that doing things you enjoy can be just as good for promoting relaxation. So, as you readjust in the first few days and weeks, make sure that you engage in as many relaxing activities as possible, to allow your mind and body to wind down and feel calm.