27 October 2020
Welcome to the age of worry. Or at least that’s what the experts claim; that we live in unprecedented times for anxiety. We like to keep a hyper rosy outlook on life but can relate to the niggling panic of FOMO when we can’t find our phone, or the reality of waking up in the early hours with conversations playing on a loop in our heads.
The advice is to have regular digital detoxes but that’s not so easy when lockdown Zoom culture has stretched the acceptable time for a “quick chat” from the boss to 8pm. Our overly-digitised lives have lots of brilliant things too: like binge-watching Reese Witherspoon in Little Fires Everywhere, and faux shopping on The Outnet.
At S&G HQ, we believe that true zen-like happiness comes from balance, AKA: having the best of both worlds. We can get lost in our puppy-filled Insta-Stories one day, and take a digital decompression from the rabbit hole that is Tik-Tok the next.
Read on for our guide to (doable) self care, from wake up to wind down.
You’re going to think we’re crazy but trust us: a blast of ice-cold water is a proven shortcut to a stress-free state of mind. Hydrotherapy triggers your body into flooding your vital organs and brain with oxygen-rich, warm blood, and zapping you into a state of alertness. The levels of your natural happy hormones, endorphins, also skyrocket.
Here’s how to do it (brace yourself): Just as you are about to finish your shower, turn the temperature down to cold. We mean freezing cold, not tepid cold (we take your happiness very seriously). The goal is to last a minute but if you do more than 20 seconds, we’ll bow down at the altar of your awesomeness.
You probably know already that a sugar-laden brekkie isn’t that great for your body. So, pack away the Pop Tarts, and have a protein-rich mini meal of scrambled or boiled eggs. (When your body is super stressed, it uses up stores of protein, so you need extra to stay on top when the going gets tough.)
If time is short, scoop some natural yoghurt in a bowl with nuts, seeds, and honey. Yoghurt is high in protein and seeds are full of B vitamins, which help your adrenal glands regulate your moods. Chuck in antioxidant-rich blueberries and you have the breakfast of chill champions.
Stress also lowers your magnesium levels and, surprise surprise, most of us don’t have enough of it. Leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are crammed full of magnesium, so whizz up a green leaf juice a few times a week. (Mix with apple juice, a banana, and unsweetened coconut milk to help it taste less leafy.)
Does anyone find ‘relaxing’ podcasts a bit distracting? We spend the whole time frustrated rather than finding peace with our inner guru. Our tip: don’t force it and go for podcasts that make you a laugh instead. Our snort-inducing favourites are Nobody Panic – a guidebook to adult life (and getting it wrong), and London Actually, comedian London Hughes’ loads-a-lols quest to find love in the modern world. If you love a good overshare, try Katherine Ryan’s candid Tell Everybody Everything. If you aren’t commuting, go ahead and prescribe yourself a morning medical-grade giggle. You’ll fill your lungs with oxygen-rich air and get your heart pumping.
What if we said that you could improve your self-esteem and lower your stress levels in five minutes just by sitting still? Meditation apps do the hard work for us; by harnessing our chattering monkey minds and pulling them back to focus on the breath when we start to wonder… what’s… happening on… WhatsApp… So, find a quiet spot, download an app (we love Headspace), and breathe deep.
It makes no difference if your commute is 30 minutes or three seconds from laptop to living room, keep your stress-busting routine the same. Avoid the temptation to comatose on the couch. Instead, take five minutes to write a to-do list for the next day. It feels swotty but it will help your mind ‘file away’ work tasks. Treat yourself to a leather-bound notebook and Marie Kondo those thoughts.
Next, help your physical body ease out of the day. If you can, get outside for a dose of vitamin D: walk, run, or borrow a neighbour’s dog for a spin around the park. If you are isolating, try a yoga video (we’re obsessed with YouTube’s Adriene Mishlar’s keep-it-real-y’all ‘Yoga With Adriene’). The aim is to get your blood pumping, which will flush out any stiffness before your muscles Netflix and chill.
A bountiful bubble bath is a glorious self-gift and there’s science behind soaking in suds at the end of the day. A natural drop in body temperature at night triggers the sleeping hormone, melatonin. By getting all glowy, you’ll short circuit your mind into thinking it’s time for sleep when you step out in the cooler air. (Double the effect by sleeping with the window cracked open.) Up the indulgence with some scented candles and your favourite S&G bath products. Climb into your finest PJs, and take that stress-free seat to slumber city.
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