Stress is unfortunately a simple fact of life and this is truer now than ever before. We developed our stress responses once upon a time to help excite our bodies to the point where we would be able to escape predators and outperform competitors. Today however the stressors in our life are chronic and on-going, and the fatigue that this constant state of arousal can put on our bodies and brains is incredibly unhealthy and draining. This is why it’s important now that we take proactive steps to counteract that stress and this is at least one advantage we do have over our ancestors – the ability to recognize stress for what it is and combat it accordingly.
One way we can do this is by creating an escape for ourselves – a ‘stress free zone’ – whether that’s a room in our home, a place we go to mentally, or a happy place somewhere outdoors. Here we will look at how you can create a stress free zone that you can escape to to forget all your worries and to give yourself a chance to mentally recharge.
Keep it Separate: The first and most important thing is that the space you create to be your stress free zone actually is stress free. In other words you mustn’t bring any of your outside stresses into the area which means you shouldn’t use it to work or to take calls that might stress you out. The rule is that while you’re in this happy place you mustn’t be doing work or anything else potentially stressful. This is so important because it means you will be able to develop a psychological association between the space and being completely relaxed and at ease.
Use ‘Bubble Time’: This also means not bringing any outside stresses in mentally either so no thinking stressful thoughts. A great way to accomplish this is to simply segregate your thoughts and give yourself a time limit. For instance set yourself a timer and make a pact that you won’t think about work or any of your other concerns at least until that timer runs out. This is very effective because you know you’ll get to think about them later, but that everyone can also afford at least ten minutes off. I call this ‘bubble time’ because I like to imagine it’s a little piece of time that’s separate from the usual flow – with no past and no future, just the present sealed into a little bubble. You can go to this place throughout your day too – when you’re taking the lift for instance just say to yourself that you’re not going to think about anything stressful at least until you reach your floor.
Shut Stress Out: The problem is that some stresses can follow you – if you get a phone call for instance or if you hear people fighting outside. A really good stress free zone then will be somewhere where you can’t hear the things that might stress you out and where you can really get away from those things. In other words then, keep the telephone outside, choose somewhere in the garden or the basement where you can’t hear people screaming and consider investing in a lock and some thick sound-proof windows (as long as there is a way for people to contact you in an emergency).
Keep it Clean and Tidy: Mess stresses people out and it’s hard to relax when you’re surrounded by clutter and things that need putting away. That’s why it’s very important that you void letting this happen to your stress free zone – and the best way to keep it safe is to simply reduce the things.