Stress. You can be the most calm, relaxed, rational person out there, and stress can still get to you. Challenging circumstances can sneak up on us unannounced, and the white noise in our heads that comes hand in hand with intense stress can make it almost impossible to function as we need to.
What can we do when stress starts to get us down and how can we create space and peace in our mind when the going gets tough? While it may be tempting to put your head down and soldier on, giving yourself a beat to find calm and clarity will do wonders for your productivity, your energy and your mental health.
Why is headspace so important?
Many people talk of working better under pressure, however immense pressure and stress can have a negative effect on your mental health and the overall quality of your work. In times of stress, many people turn to distraction as a coping mechanism. While this can work well outside of the workplace, distraction isn’t a big help if there’s something you really need to get done.
In extreme cases of stress we can find ourselves lashing out, shutting down and making rash decisions, potentially hurting our friends, family colleagues and ourselves. Being able to put aside stress and clear some space in your mind will help to put all that stress into perspective. Mental clarity will boost your productivity and energy levels, allow you to make better and more considered decisions, move your stress to the side and stay as positive as possible.
How to create space in your mind despite stress
There are a few simple techniques you can implement when you need to create space in your mind during times of stress. Remember that practice makes perfect. If you can’t find that headspace immediately, don’t get down on yourself- it’ll only make that stress worse!
Mindfulness is a bit of a buzzword at the moment, and with good reason. Put simply, mindfulness is all about paying attention to the present moment. Mindfulness will help you create that mental space and de-stress, giving you greater clarity and allowing you to get the job done- whatever task that may be!
Mindfulness and meditation are inextricably linked, but this is more about focus, awareness and remaining in the present. Some mindfulness techniques you can implement almost anywhere include focusing on your breathing and simply listening to the world around you.
Try this mindfulness exercise next time you need to create some headspace – grab a healthy snack in a quiet place, then really tap into your senses. What does the snack look, feel and smell like? How does it taste? Focusing on your senses is a quick and easy way of implementing the “distraction” technique we touched on earlier, without affecting your productivity.
Meditation is a really popular way of clearing some space in your mind, however it can seem intimidating and difficult to the uninitiated. With an increased importance being placed on mental health, you can now access so many free and accessible tools that train you to mindfully meditate even if you’re a beginner. Using an app is a popular technique as you can tap in anywhere and at any time, with free exercises available to de-stress you and clear any of that mental fog in as little as three minutes! Some of our favourite meditation apps include Headspace, Calm and The Mindfulness App.
Fresh air is easy to find, but so few of us get out and really enjoy it during the day. Getting outside and breathing deeply is a quick, simple and free way of making a little more space in your mind. Serotonin is a chemical that your body releases in times of happiness, and fresh oxygen can actually boost those all-important serotonin levels! Physically standing up and walking outside will also get the blood pumping back up to the brain, which can help to clear a bit of that stress-induced fog and give you some space and mental clarity. Bonus points if it’s a sunny day- your skin will soak up a bit of Vitamin D, which is a proven natural mood booster!