De-stress from your desk

Stress is something we’re all familiar with but what can we do to prepare ourselves for it? We share a few simple ways to ease the pressure every day.
Black Canon PIXMA printer with a colouring printout and print paper on a desk.

Imagine you are walking a tightrope. Think about the balance and coordination you require to reach the other side without falling. Your steady focus and steely determination as you put one foot in front of the other. You can feel your heart beating, your senses are heightened, you’re alert. Even though this scenario is just in your imagination, your body is still releasing adrenaline and cortisol – the stress becomes real. It’s something we all experience in our day-to-day lives and why Stress Awareness Week is an important time to learn how to understand and manage our daily pressures with positive actions and activities, such as downloading and mindfully colouring our special selection of printable designs.

A colouring page with flower design being coloured in with pink marker.

You see, stress is complex. Sometimes a little bit of stress is just the thing you need to propel you forward, to get you to the other side of the tightrope, so to speak. But what happens if stress isn’t an occasional event? How can we cope when we are exposed to prolonged periods of high-pressure – maybe a project at work, health problems or even moving house or getting married? This is when stress could stop pushing you forward and instead unbalance you. Because when you don’t have the opportunity to consistently fall back into your normal levels of adrenaline and cortisol, stress may emerge. It can manifest as stomach aches, headaches, sleep problems or in any number of other physical ways. It can also make you highly irritable, deeply anxious and/or depressed. In short, too much stress can make you feel very genuinely unwell. However, there are some practical things we can all put in place to help us find balance and make sure we’re in the best shape to cope with stress when it finds us.

Plan ahead and share the load

It can often feel easier to just do everything yourself, can’t it? But taking on too much is a sure-fire way to push the pressure button. It’s important to be realistic about what you can and cannot personally achieve and there is absolutely no shame in asking for help and support during times of high stress. Or better still, in anticipation of them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you don’t feel that you can resolve workload issues alone. This may feel stressful in itself in the moment, but taking a few deep breaths and having the conversation is a kindness to your future self.

Eat well, stay hydrated and don’t hit the caffeine too hard

When you’re super busy and working through a stressful time, a brisk walk to the coffee shop to grab a bite and a drink can actually help to reinvigorate you – but beware, too much caffeine can affect the quality of your sleep, which can impact how well you cope the following day. And you might think that skipping lunch in favour of a sugary snack will help you power through, but in the long-term you’ll be more likely to have an afternoon slump, which could exacerbate any stress you are already feeling. Try to stick to your morning latte, followed by water or herbal tea and keep a packed lunch or healthy desk snacks to hand.

Three colouring pages with different designs, one in the middle half-coloured in with a flower design.

Make time to be mindful

Mindfulness comes in many shapes and sizes and can fit into even the busiest lives. Some people like to use an app or smartwatch that takes them through a couple of minutes of guided breathing. Others prefer to switch to an activity that gives them a sense of purposeful mindfulness. The most well-known of these are creative crafts, such as knitting, painting and colouring. They bring us into the present moment, drawing all our attention to our hands, the colours we’re using and the care we are taking in the action of creating.

Black Canon PIXMA printer with a colouring printout and two colouring pages and markers on a desk.

An activity with purpose

If you’ve never tried a mindful activity, it couldn’t be easier. We have been working with a couple of amazing illustrators who know a thing or two about the therapeutic power of art. Wednesday Holmes and Johanna Basford have designed a selection of printable designs to paint, colour or collage that can help ease stress and anxiety. It’s simply a case of print and colour – it’s not about the end result, but how you get there. “You don’t need fancy art supplies to get the most from these designs” explains Johanna. “The thing about art supplies is that they respond differently to each unique person that uses them. Coloured pencils are a good starting point, but it’s important to have fun and experiment a little.”

Eat well, sleep well, take regular breaks… these are all things that we know we must do. But it’s also incredibly important to pause, even when you’re under pressure. Taking a few minutes out of your day to switch into a mindful moment is a habit that can really support your good mental health and help you through the stressful events that life throws at us all. And remember – never be afraid to ask for help.

Download and print Wednesday’s and Johanna’s ‘Postcards with Purpose’ today – and keep them handy for when you’re in need of a mindful moment.

Written by Alexa Mezey

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