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 our 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 – or perhaps those stresses may even feel more like exciting challenges!
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. Check out the hugely popular Headspace and Calm apps for help in getting started.
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 get the satisfaction from ticking them off!
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 perhaps you can delegate. Or ask yourself if all are really necessary – what are you actually trying to achieve and are all of those tasks essential to reach your aims?
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 or home, 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. So list your achievements at the end of every day so you give yourself due credit!
7. Ask for help
As well as asking for help with tasks themselves, it’s important to let people know when you are feeling swamped, even if they can’t physically take some of the burden. Simply talking through problems can help you prioritise or see issues more clearly. And a problem shared is a problem halved, after all. What’s more, if stress is getting you down, it is important not to suffer alone or it can get out of hand before you know it. Seek help from a medical professional if you are struggling – they are well used to dealing with our mental health as well as our physical complaints.
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. That list of ‘essential jobs’ will never be completed. 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