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5 ways to stress less

Has work left you feeling frazzled? Are you so stressed you can’t think properly? Well, we have some top advice from our Woman’s Hour Takeover Guest Editor Arianna Huffington on how to avoid a burnout, and if it happens, some tips for how to re-frame your life afterwards.

A successful businesswoman and self-confessed former workaholic, Arianna Huffington founded The Huffington Post and went on to sell it for £300 million. In 2007, she collapsed suffering from exhaustion. She began studying the subject of stress and she shares her tips with us on how women could better deal with it…

1. Set new priorities

“We’re living under the delusion that in order to succeed you have to be always ‘on’. We have to sacrifice our own health and maybe relationships, our productivity and yet it’s something we can resolve.”

“When we prioritise our wellbeing our performance improves.”

“I changed my life by prioritising sleep, prioritising time to recharge during the day, to exercise. I realised I was more effective. My decisions were clearer. I was more creative, I was less reactive. I was more pleasant to be around!”

2. Take a digital detox

“A growing addiction to our phones and social media and games has made it much harder for people to disconnect from distractions and stimulations and reconnect with ourselves.”

“This isn't about not celebrating all that technology has made possible, this is about recognising that after 10 years of the iPhone we’re just now beginning to establish the rules of the road. We’re just beginning to understand the unintended consequences of being always ‘on’."

“We need boundaries - make sure if you’re having dinner with friends or family, you don’t use your phone. If you’re doing deep work, put your phone away. Turn off notifications, so you don’t have to be distracted when you’re with friends and want to be in the present moment.”

3. Wash, wear, repeat

“I’ve discovered for women one of the biggest sources of stress is the false assumption that we have to wear something new for every occasion. I’m encouraging women to find something they love, wear it again and again. The way men do, nobody notices if men wear the same suit again and again. But women spend an enormous amount of energy, time and money picking new outfits. It’s something familiar, it’s something you feel good in, you wore it yesterday, assuming it’s still clean, wear it today!”

“For a very long time historically women were decorative objects. Now, we’re running companies, we’re changing the world and we want to have as much time and as much energy as possible preserved for important things. Whilst, still looking good and feeling good, that’s not the problem, it’s just how much time are we spending and how much of our mindshare picking clothes.”

4. Put your anger to better use

“My plea to everybody is to make the outrage productive, instead of making it about venting and depleting ourselves, to take some lessons from civil rights leaders and the stoics. Make your outrage about outcomes.”

“The only thing we can control are our own reactions to what is happening and when we do that, it makes us much more effective instead of depleting our energies and ourselves."

“We need to be aware of everything that’s happening but the question is registering it in your own time. I have ended all news notifications coming to my phone. I go and read the news, instead of allowing it to interrupt what I’m doing, which is how people live their lives. So everything they’re doing is being constantly interrupted. So first of all be in control of when you get your news.”

5. A good night’s sleep…alone

“All the science unequivocally says the vast majority of us needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep to be fully re-charged, to complete all the cycles of sleep. So how do you begin to get more sleep?”

“The first step is to pick a time at the end of the day when you turn off all your phones and devices and gently escort them out of your bedroom. All the science makes it clear, if your phone is by your bed you’re much less likely to have a re-charging sleep because if you wake up in the middle of the night, for any reason, you’re going to be tempted to go to your phone.”

Listen to Arianna Huffington’s Woman’s Hour Takeover where she chats to Jenni Murray about wellbeing, stress and technology.