Stress has become an unpleasant feature of modern life and we all find ourselves having to deal with demands, deadlines, conflicts and difficult people from time to time. However, if stress becomes part of every day, on an ongoing basis, it can cause all kinds of serious health problems before you know it.
The good news is that there are many ideas proven to help us reduce our stress levels and we can really help ourselves.
Here are Dr Sally Norton’s top tips for reducing and managing stress:
1. Look after yourself!
It is easier to manage stress when we feel healthy. Taking care to eat well, get sufficient sleep and have just a little exercise can make us feel better able to cope.
2. Find time to mentally relax and unwind
It may seem difficult to find the time but short breathing and relaxation exercises or meditations can help you to think more clearly so that you don’t keep rushing from one problem to the next.
3. Write down all the jobs you need to do
Then you don’t need to waste your attention and energy on trying to remember everything – and you won’t forget.
4. Prioritise your tasks
…and deal with the most difficult ones first. That way, the day will get better as you go along and you won’t be distracted by the thought of more difficult jobs to come. If it is really clear that you have too many jobs to complete in one day then share that information with your manager – that way there are no nasty surprises and you may find that some of the priorities become clearer.
5. Don’t judge or criticise yourself
We can easily get into the habit of judging our own actions and abilities much more harshly than we judge others and that can add to our stress levels. Remember, you’re a pretty awesome human who is holding together a life and a job, and often helping others with their problems and stresses at work or outside. Be gentle with yourself rather than adding to your burden.Ask yourself whether everything you think you need to do today will still be important in 6 months time, or a year, or 5 years.
6. Make a note of the good things you do and the problems you solve
When you’re stressed, you tend to focus on the things you haven’t yet been able to do yet. Your mind needs the positive balance to work effectively.
7. Ask for help
Don’t think you have to do everything yourself.
8. Live your life.
It is all too easy to let your stresses and worries stop you from doing things that you enjoy. Don’t let that happen. Make time to speak to friends and family, to read a book, stroke your pets, go out for a walk or any of the things that make you feel good. That time and those feelings will help to keep any problems in perspective