How To Be Happy: Take a long walk at lunch to break up the work day

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The Independent Online

'Can you give me some hints on how to reduce the stress I feel on my way to and from work? My day seems to start and end badly and this is affecting my performance in the office.' T.

Step 1 Being rushed before leaving home aggravates stress, so give yourself time to prepare for the day ahead, even if this means getting up earlier. Taking time to shower, eat breakfast and say goodbye to our loved ones is an important routine that helps regulate our mood. Affirming that we choose to go to work and that our intention is to do our best, while taking care of ourselves, creates a balanced perspective that will encourage us to do what is supportive and helpful for ourselves and our colleagues.

Step 2 Reducing the hours spent commuting is one of the few external variables that has an effect on our overall wellbeing. Try to keep your commute to a minimum but take the best journey, perhaps changing routes and getting out one stop earlier occasionally to keep the experience fresh. On your way to work, be aware of your breath and the way your body feels and moves. Listening to uplifting music can be fabulously mood-enhancing. Acknowledge any feelings you might have about the day ahead. Mentally organise yourself, reviewing your goals and reminding yourself to be prepared for the unexpected.

Step 3 Once at work, ensure that you take breaks and spend time with people with whom you feel comfortable. A healthy lunch and walk provides a good balance to the day and improves your sense of autonomy and control.

Step 4 Before leaving, reflect on the day and what you have accomplished. Make a list of what you need to do the next day, so you do not have to carry this information in your head. While returning home, once more be aware of your breathing while acknowledging any sensations of tiredness you might have. Practise a half-smile, which will refresh you and put you in a good mood for your return. Once home, mark the transition by changing out of your work clothes and pursue relaxing activities that positively engage you emotionally, rather than slumping in front of the TV.

For more stress-reducing ideas, visit the Samaritans' www.stressdownday.org

Cecilia is Mind journalist of the year. If you would like her to answer your problems email her at c.dfelice@independent.co.uk

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