How To De-Stress From Work

You know it's going to be one of those weeks when you sit down at your desk on Monday morning, blink and it's 6pm. Your inbox resembles the aftermath of a Uni campus kebab shop, the to-do list is now spread over two pages and there's a sense of rising panic constricting your throat. Cue the late nights, early alarms and a bitter kiss goodbye to any kind of a life. Four weeks ago, this was me. I was a mess. A crying, sweating, stressful mess who by the evening, couldn't even find the words to construct a simple sentence. It was that bad. So, when Monday came around again, I promised myself I wasn't going to lose another week of my life to the never-ending abyss of work. This blog post has been a long time coming and I'm by no means now "cured", but these tips worked for me and maybe, maybe, they could work for you too!
Before we get stuck into it, I just want to caveat that these past few week when I have somewhat achieved more of a work/life balance, it hasn't been at the expense of effort, motivation, or giving anything less than 100% to my job. I've just made a few subtle changes to my head space that has allowed me to place emphasis on the things that make me feel better in myself; namely my diet, my exercise regime, and most importantly, my sanity. It wasn't easy, I have to admit. There were times I had to have a stern word with myself and I hate being told off! So, here's how I did it...

#1. ACCEPT YOUR JOB WILL NEVER BE DONE. EVER. 
There is beauty in the simplicity of this one but I found it to have a profound effect on my state of mind. A job never comes with an end point. It's a never-ending stream of emails, requests and tasks. Your role is a series of projects with various deadlines and you know once one project is complete no sooner will the next one be upon you (or three). Once you actually say it aloud, it's so obvious! To that point, what is working until 10pm every night going to achieve? It's an impossible task to get your job done. You have to draw the line somewhere and it's down to you to determine whether that line is a hard finish at 6/7/8pm or "the line is a dot to you" and you're chasing a phantom hope of satisfaction striving for the unachievable 'job done' moment. How I used this to my advantage this week was to ensure that I was a) effectively prioritising throughout the day so I knew all urgent matters were dealt with (a to-do list helps here) and b) I acknowledged and reflected on the hard day's work I had put in. I thought about it like this; If I was working for my own company, would I be pleased with the bang I'd got for my buck?

#2. SWITCH OFF
This literally started by turning off my email notifications on my iPhone. Simple and effective but I hadn't quite realised how much I remained on 'high alert'. Given I work in a global company with offices in multiple timezones, the emails never cease! When your work phone and personal phone are one and the same, it's hard to be so disciplined to leave work at the office. Last Saturday morning, I made the point of switching off my emails and held strong until I was back in the office. I kept this discipline of switching off my work emails as I left the office which felt like a daily victory. I'd often contemplated this idea but was always terrified of how out of control my inbox would be without this, however I found I was more focused and productive during the hours I sat at my desk. I've stopped waking up, switching off my alarm and seeing straight away 35 unread emails - throat constricts, absolutely can't breath and a horrible start to each day. Plus, what is going to be really so urgent that reading an email at 11pm at night will do anything but ruin your evening and make for a fretful night's sleep. One my favourite quotes from my days working at L'Oreal was "It's PR, not ER!"
#3. TEMPLE TIME
There's a reason holding your pulse-points is soothing and that's because you stop, focus and breathe. Breath is the most underrated asset we have in our arsenal which literally has the power to change our physical and mental responses to stress. Stop and count to ten. During an average day, I'd be terrified to see how many adrenaline spikes I punish my body with. I really challenged this on Tuesday early afternoon after a string of back-to-back meetings and raised action points when things just got overwhelming. To break the pattern, I stood up from my desk and walked to the kitchen to make a coffee. On the way, I took several deep breaths and forced my shoulders to drop. 'I can't do it all' I said to myself but I can get through this by compartmentalising and effectively prioritising. Stepping away from your desk forces your body to move and deep breaths can really help release some of that tension. Make a drink, take a quick breather - stop the anxiety in its tracks and talk to yourself calmly - you got this, girl!
#4. STOP EATING YOUR EMOTIONS
I'm an emotional eater. Possibly the biggest emotional eater. We were chatting in the office about those of us cursed with this trait who wish we could be the 'too-nervous-to-eat' kind of stress-head. Instead, and rather unfortunately, I find the hand to mouth action rather soothing (I blame my mother, it must be something to do with my childhood!). Looking back at my final year of University, those crucial last weeks writing my dissertation and I barely left my desk except to pop to the loo and stock up on Minstrels from the corner-shop. Time for a nice nutritional meal? No way! Constant feeding of chocolatey treats? Absolutely.

These days my daily dependency in the working world is Diet Coke. Something about the fizz and all the E-numbers my body craves and I have a stupid association between a productive afternoon and this canned drink. But this week, in a bid to increase my overall wellness, I swapped it for Kombucha which is a rather tasty preoiotic drink to aid digestion, mood and mental stability. Thank you Liz Earle for the tip via 'At Home With' series by The Anna Edit and Lily Pebbles. Flavoured with Pink Lady Apples, it really is a delightful tasting drink. It's not giant leap for mankind but for me, this was monumental. A fizzy drink that is a) good for you and b) good for you. Every sip and I felt like my body wasn't getting bloated by the greedy stress-ball within!
#5. BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS
As most of you will know from reading my blog over the past year, I'm very lazy when it comes to exercise. It took a looming wedding and revealing wedding dress to get any kind of gym dedication out of me. Now there is no similar motivation (sorry Ryan, welcome to married life), or so I thought until I realised my clothes were getting tighter. Maybe the launderette machines were shrinking them? At the end of a working day there's barely enough energy left in me to stay awake on the subway ride home, let alone squeeze into some exercise leggings and burn come calories. Thanks to ClassPass though, I discovered and fell in love with Physique 57. Having realised in Spring this year how bad my mental head space was and identifying that my lack of exercise could easily be exacerbating the situation, I took control and booked a month's unlimited pass to the studio. I was in a great groove of weekend classes but weekdays? Nuh-uh. At my most-stressed point, I didn't make it to a single class and I could feel myself getting more and more down about it as the week went on. This week, I turned it around. I checked the night before for the timetable so I could know exactly where I had to be and when. And I made a point of leaving on time. On one occasion I had to bring my laptop home as I hadn't got everything done but I wasn't prepared to let it be at expense of my exercise class. After a day of mental exhaustion, there's nothing more satisfying, I have found, that the physical exertion of overloading your muscles and clearing your head by the sheer concentration that's required at the barre!

#6. FRESH AIR & FRESH FOOD
It wasn't uncommon for a day to go by where I wouldn't leave the office at all between arriving and leaving. In the Winter, I barely see daylight. Once I'm in, I'm sucked in and it's very hard to get away.
And I'm pale so you can bet what that did for my complexion! So I figured 'Rose by name, Rose by nature', I need a little fresh air and water to bloom! Fifteen minutes outside of the office to stretch my legs and soak up some Vitamin D is just what the doctor ordered. And realistically, what harm is fifteen minutes in the schemes of things? I'm working my way up to the full hour (I can hear my New York colleagues gasping at the sheer thought...!)
#7. READING
This has the most calming effect on me but having the time to do it is another thing! So, I made a point to enjoy each 12 minute subway journey to and from work to sit on my Kindle app and just read. This has stopped me getting irate at the dropping WiFi connection and frantically iPhone typing a response to work emails and meant I savour a little of the calm before the storm. I've just finished reading Giovanna Fletcher's 'Billy and Me' which was just delightful and provided an escape into the British countryside for a dose of baking and romance! I'm now tucking into my AUTUMN READING LIST - check out the blog post here.

So there you have it...small steps for mankind but a giant leap for my sanity. I hope if even one of these points works for you then it was worth writing! Is there anything that really works for you to help switch off or battle with stress? I'm always up for more recommendations to keep me on this path! Sharing is caring, after all.

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Autumn Reading List // Book Haul

Autumn is my favourite season of the year. From the wardrobe updates (jumpers, oh how I have missed you!) to the Saturday night TV (hello Strictly) and to the hearty cooking (casserole, anyone?). But best of all is the evenings drawing in which makes for snuggling down on the sofa with a cup of tea, blanket and a new book. Reminiscent of my back-to-school vibes which included an annual trolley dash around W.H.Smith (this girl loves her stationary), I find myself drawn to a book haul around this time of year. Enter Amazon (sorry, W.H.Smith, I've gone digital). Approaching this time of year when there's a lull between the summer BBQ's and Christmas parties, my social diary is freed up for early nights of reading in bed and Netflix binges (can I really be arsed with starting 5 series of Breaking Bad now?!). I've spoken before about my bestie Elizabeth Ruth and how we bonded from day one at University over chick-lits and nachos. Since then, we've had a book club for two which has taken itself online now we are an ocean apart and Pinterest is our online library. Without further ado, this Autumn I have a rather eclectic bunch of reading material and here's why I'm excited to tuck in...
Rhonda Byrne The Secret
 I'm starting with the very much talked about and best-selling self-help book The Secret. It's been around since 2006 so chances are you've heard of it too. From colleagues, vloggers and pod-casts of late, there have been so many references to this book that, frankly, I want to know what all the fuss is about. This book claims it can change your life - or at least give you the power to change your life once you know 'the secret'. Fundamentally, it's all about positive visualisation. It might not be up your street, especially those on the cynical end of the spectrum, but I've heard one too many first-hand accounts of it working that I want in on the 'law of attraction' action! 
Paige Toon The Last Piece of my Heart
Ask me who my favourite author is and this lady is first in mind: introducing Paige Toon. If you are new to this author, I highly recommend you read all her books starting with Lucy in the Sky. The perk of reading in chronological order (although not essential) is that Toon very cleverly weaves together characters from various books into a larger network just emphasising her genius. Having spent 18 months out of the loop from her most recent releases, I was beyond excited to find I was behind on her two latest releases.

Paige Toon The One We Fell in Love With
 I challenge anyone to read the Kindle Preview of this book and stop there. Within minutes I utterly gripped!! Genuinely nearly missed my stop on the subway ride home! Plus one of the (many) reasons I love Paige Toon is the way she brings romance to life. So much so you won't be able to put the book down! The gist here is one guy + triplet sisters and he's in love with one of them - navigating this complex love triangle! (Or square?)
Naomi Alderman The Power
The cover of this book may look familiar and that's because it's graced so many Instagram posts over the course of the summer that my FOMO scale finally tipped the balance. Science fiction isn't my typical genre so it'll be interesting to see how I get on with this 'dystopian fiction' but the synopsis intrigued me and appealed to my inner feminist. The premise explores women discovering they can emit electrical jolts from their fingertips establishing them as the dominant gender. Boy, there are times I wish I could’ve emitted electrical jolts but had to settle for a killer stare. Written by fellow Brit, Naomi Alderman is a literary genius that has been on the rise and adorned with accolades since her debut novel in 2006. Quickly winning the Orange Award for New Writers in that year, The Power is her fourth book and winner of 2018 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.
Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza Techbitch
In my mind, this book will be The Devil Wears Prada meets the digital age. Imogen is the editor-in-chief of Glossy magazine who, returning from sabbatical, finds herself being upstaged by her social-media savvy former assistant Eve. In typical Millennial style, Eve is taking on her old boss in a battle of the generations and it's print vs. digital - who will win? It's going to be an indulgent delve into the fashion and publishing world - two of my great loves - and written by two journalists from the world itself. I cannot wait to laugh at the parallels the authors draw upon as these two characters go head-to-head!

Giovanna Fletcher Happy Mum, Happy Baby
This is a controversial one and before anyone gets ahead of themselves, a little disclaimer: No, I'm not pregnant and no, I'm not planning to get pregnant anytime soon. This is literally a by-product of the 'At Home With' podcast series by Lily Pebbles and The AnnaEdit. As my own mother can testify, I have always been fascinated with pregnancy which manifested into a brief desire to become a midwife but was quickly satisfied by VHS recordings of the 80s answer to 'One Born Every Minute'. I figure this 'warts-and-all' approach to motherhood is best served cold (i.e. way in advance), to act as an effective contraceptive in the short-term and hopefully lead to a long-term knowledge-is-power effect. Given the friendly and down-to-earth character of Giovanna Fletcher (check out her Instagram stories to see just how warm and lovely she is), this will literally be like my best friend telling me the ugly truth.

Madeleine Shaw A Year of Beautiful Eating
Again, credit to The Anna Edit's recent vlogs and cooking up a storm in her Brighton kitchen to get this recipe book in my basket. Feeling excited to tackle the kitchen! My desire to embrace my inner-Nigella/Delia/Mary Berry has been thwarted by New York's grocery store prices yet my expanding waistline has called for desperate action. Given a limited number of kitchen resources (damn you shipping costs for parting me with my spice rack!) I wanted a no-frills yet healthy selection of meals that my picky husband won't turn his nose up to - the jury is out for now but the Autumn and Winter chapters have been heavily bookmarked!

What's on your reading hit-list this Autumn? Or have you any great Summer books to share with me? You can always follow my Pinterest board for live updates!

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New York // Life Update

How is August over already already? Last week I was sat in my parents' kitchen on a rainy Wednesday afternoon and it hit me that we are two-thirds of the way through the year!! How the heck did that happen?! I found myself on vacation (I'm embracing "being American") over the Bank Holiday weekend and back in Blighty for a friend's wedding followed by a week's "stay-cation". It's ironic when you have to fly 3,000 miles just to be home! Having literally had dreams of trolley-dashing Tesco and escaping the mad prices of New York (everything but a $1 pizza slice is extortionate), I've been stocking up for winter! Literally. I'll be amazed if there isn't a nationwide shortage of Heinz Salad Cream as a result of my visit.
September always feels slightly melancholic despite it being the start of my favourite season. It must be the inherent 'back to school' vibes from years gone by when you know the light evenings and summer holiday fun is at an end. But new wardrobe, better TV and cosy evenings in, what's not to love? This past week, I found myself clearing through my cupboards, packing away the bikinis and summer playsuits, and discovering what winter items hadn't been devoured by moths since I'd stowed them away. 'Autumn-sorting' as opposed to 'Spring-cleaning' if you will. Entirely satisfying.

It's been a crazy year. With everything that happened in 2016 - the wedding, moving house, leaving our jobs and travelling the world - it was always going to be a tough act to follow. This year got off to a bizarre start; we were on a come down from our crazy adventures honeymoon-ing overseas and found ourselves living at opposite ends of the country in our respective parents' homes while we waited for the New York offer to be finalised. Now, we're six months into being New Yorkers and have set-up home in a downtown Manhattan apartment. The stereotype of working all hours and living off coffee is so true - did you know the average New Yorker only gets 10 vacation days a year and doesn't even take them all??! Utter bonkers if you ask me. After six months of steam-rolling through, moving the team out here and being part of a new start-up arm of the business, I was ready for my straight-jacket fitting and a month in a rehab facility. Cue massages, lots of cups of tea (thank you, Mum) and lung-fulls of country air. Despite working for the same company for five years previous, there's been an interesting cultural shift from London to New York. I'd certainly never have dreamt of working six months straight in London, at least, there would have been the odd weekend away to stay with friends outside of London or escape to the country for some home-cooking. It occurred to us that Ryan and I have never spent a solid six months in one place without so much as a night away - until now. It's no wonder living in this busy metropolitan city that we were both due a change of scenery and luckily that's what August provided for us both.

Fast-forward a few days and now I'm back in the Big Apple. The warmer climate has been welcome after the nippier temperatures of the UK (after a glorious Bank Holiday weekend I might add). I'm clinging onto my holiday zen as much as possible. I've been rejuvenated by seeing all my loved ones, drank enough alcohol (honestly, are anyone elses parents a bad influence?!) and laughed more in the office in this past week than I had collectively pre-trip. Sometimes, absence makes the heart grow fonder - yes, I was so glad to get back to our apartment, our view and enjoy some one-on-one time with The Husband. And sometimes, a little distance helps give you the perspective you need to see the bigger picture. So, New York, bring on Part 2.

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