“Stress is how you feel when the pressure you’re under exceeds your ability to cope. It is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”
If your stress is caused by the pressure of being too busy and trying to fit too much into the day, you need to make sure you take time for leisure, exercise and holidays. This is just as essential as spending time on business or home worries.
Remember that a little stress is good for the body and alerts the mind. But it needs to be short-term and to be followed by a period of relaxation. Here are some simple tips to manage and reduce your stress levels:
- Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine
Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine are stimulants and so will increase your level of stress rather than reduce it. Swap caffeinated and alcoholic drinks for water, herbal teas, or diluted natural fruit juices and aim to keep yourself hydrated as this will enable your body to cope better with stress.
- Indulge in Physical Activity
Stressful situations increase the level of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol in your body. When you feel stressed and tense, go for a brisk walk in fresh air. Have a change of scene – a short walk can make a big difference to how you feel.
- Get More Sleep
A lack of sleep is a significant cause of stress. However, stress also interrupts our sleep as thoughts keep whirling through our heads, stopping us from relaxing enough to fall asleep. Stop doing any mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed so that you give your brain time to calm down.
- Try Relaxation Techniques
To manage stress, the first thing is to become more relaxed in daily life. Don’t waste energy on things that don’t require it; such as fidgeting impatiently while you wait for the kettle to boil. Instead take the opportunity for a few moments of calm.
The second is to learn some breathing and relaxation techniques. Each day, try to relax with a stress reduction technique. There are many tried and tested ways to reduce stress, so try a few and see what works best for you.
Progressive muscle relaxation works really well. This is where you firstly relax your feet, then your calves, then your thighs and then move up the rest of your body until your whole body is relaxed
Try nurturing activities, making time in your life for fun and relaxation:
|Go for a walk.|
Spend time in nature.
Call a good friend.
Write in your journal.
Take a long bath.
|Play with a pet.|
Work in your garden.
Get a massage.
Curl up with a good book.
Listen to music.
- Talk to Someone
Stress can cloud your judgement and prevent you from seeing things clearly. Talking things through with a friend, work colleague or trained professional can help you find solutions to your stress and put your problems into perspective.
- Keep a Stress Diary
A stress diary can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your diary. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes that will help you become more aware of the situations that cause you to become stressed.
Note the date, time and place of each stressful episode, and write down:
What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure);
A stress rating of the episode (on a 1 – 10 scale);
How you felt, both physically and emotionally;
How you acted in response;
What you did to make yourself feel better.
- Manage Your Time
At times, we all feel overburdened by our ‘To Do’ list and this is a common cause of stress. Start to prioritise your tasks by making a list of all the things that you need to do and list them in order of genuine priority.
- Learn to Say ‘No.’
A common cause of stress is having too much to do and too little time in which to do it. Learning to say ‘no’ to additional or unimportant requests will help to reduce your level of stress, and may also help you develop more self-confidence.
- Rest If You Are Ill
If you are feeling unwell, do not feel that you have to carry on regardless. A short spell of rest will enable the body to recover faster.
- Act Positively
Make time for your friends. Talking to them about your day and the things you find difficult can help you keep things in perspective. Smiling and laughing with them will also produce hormones which help you to relax.
At the end of each day, sit back and reflect on what you’ve achieved, rather than spending time worrying about what still needs to be done. Try to get away every so often, if you can, even if it’s only for a day out.
- Try to accept things you can’t change
It isn’t always possible to change the things you don’t like or find difficult, but you can try and change your own attitude to them. This way you don’t build up feelings of resentment or start taking your feelings out on others.
Stress does not have to be a debilitating part of life. Successful stress management is all about learning how and when to take control. It’s important to remember that you control how stress affects you. You can control the stress or let stress control you – so relax.
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” Henry Ford
Thoughts for the week
- How do you cope with stress?
- Do you have a plan of action for stressful times?
- This week look back through this blog and implement some of the suggestions.
Well that’s it for this week have a wonderful weekend and relax.