If you live and work in Hong Kong, you probably experience stress on a daily basis. A simple taxi ride through Central can feel like you accidentally hopped in a car destined for the Hong Kong Grand Prix – and that’s just the start of your day! But fear not, there are ways to help you reduce stress. British registered clinical psychologist and founder of MindnLife private psychology practice, Dr. Quratulain Zaidi, tells us more.
The stress we experience every day, combined with the ‘Universal Stressors’ such as work, relationships, financial issues, health problems, parents and parenting issues, as well as seemingly harmless daily hassles and busy schedules, all add up.
This can lead to chronic stress which can interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol, cue heart disease, and disrupt healthy sleep patterns.
Over time, these physical effects can increase the risk of depression and mental illness, and lower life expectancy. It’s a scary thought, but there are simple and effective ways to help reduce your experience of stress. But first things first, how stressed are you?
Take the Self A-stress-ment below – then I’ll tell you what to do about it.
Learning to recognise your own stressors, listen to your body signals for stress, and invest time in learning effective coping strategies to deal with stressors can help reduce your experience of stress. Here are some simple ways to do just that.
5 Amazing Stress Busting Tips
1. Learn to respond rather than react to situations
Twice – in through your nose, out through your mouth – and clear your mind. Close your mouth and think. Now respond. Simply choosing to take a deep breath before reacting can change how you think and feel. You’ll keep your cool and make better decisions – an all-round winner.
2. Take care of your body
Seeking optimal physical health is a top priority. Twenty to 30 minutes of any aerobic activity, like walking, running, hiking, swimming, biking – done most days of the week – will help clear your mind, provide “aha!” moments, help you sleep better, and rebalance stress hormones. Avoid caffeine after 3pm, eat a balanced diet, and sleep at least six hours per night. Developing healthy eating habits and getting enough sleep are critical to combat the negative physical effects of stress.
3. Tend and befriend
Invest in a network of friends who help you cope in a positive way. Make an effort to spend real face-to-face time with loved ones who are there to listen and support you.
4. Own your calendar
Instead of your calendar owning you, make a point to schedule time for yourself, family, friends, and activities that help you recharge. Take stock of activities and relationships that don’t enhance your career or personal life, and minimise the time you spend on them. Learn to respond to emails within working hours, and allow yourself to go offline after work. Prioritise your “to-do” list and outsource some of the most time-consuming tasks. When you see your calendar blowing up, block time out to breathe.
5. There’s an App for that
Introducing and practicing effective and scientifically proven stress reduction techniques – like progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness-based stress reduction – will help immensely. Potential Project has a great app ($32) with guided and custom mindfulness practices. You can even set reminders for when you aren’t being so mindful about being mindful.
Oh dear! It looks like you may have to kick it up a notch and take the Ultimate De-stressor Challenge. Schedule 20 minutes twice a day and grab your phone! With regular practice, you will feel like a completely different person in two weeks.
- Open Potential Project app and run one of the 10-minute Focus Training programs.
- Open 7-Minute Workout app and give your all for seven glorious minutes of fitness.
- Re-open Potential Project, set the Silence with Bells for a minimum of two minutes, and either sit quietly or lay down in Savasana.