I haven’t written anything for a while. I’ve been away, having a break and taking some time out. Below are some tips about how to manage stress. I think I’ve used all of them while I’ve been away!
Stress can affect us all in different ways – stress at work, the demands of a busy home life or even the stress of living with a partner who you don’t really want to be with.
When we’re stressed, whether by our job or by something more personal, and we can find that trying to understand the cause of the stress can be the first step. This can then help us to take control of the situation. This first step can have a huge impact on how we’re feeling about things
Recently I wrote about the impacts of turning to things like alcohol or drugs to help us deal with stress. This isn’t a good plan as they only temporarily mask the problem and then often become the problem. It’s much better to try to step back, identify what the issues are, relax and take stock. Easier said than done I know but here are some ideas:
Exercise won’t make your stress disappear, but it will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling, clearing your thoughts and letting you to deal with your problems more calmly. Taking some exercise helps the body to deal with the hormones that will be coursing round our body after a stressful day. It doesn’t have to be a major exercise regime – a brisk walk to two bus stops past your normal stop is a good way to start. Something is better than nothing and any activity can be increased gradually. Starting is the important bit.
There is always a solution to a problem, but sometimes it is difficult to see it in that stressed out state. This increases the feeling of stress because of the lack of control. The act of taking control is a great step and it can be achieved by thinking through the causes and making small changes to how we think. Thinking and breathing can really start to help to increase the feeling of control. Slow steady breathing will help the body to calm down and when we are calm, we can then step back and write down the causes and how we can make some changes.
Connect with people
Friends and family can be a great help and can help us to see things in a different way because they are slightly distanced from the issue at hand. Talk to people about how you’re feeling and you may find that they are willing to listen and provide assistance. Sometimes just the act of sharing the problem helps enormously. We can often have a good laugh with them, which is one of the best stress relievers.
Have some ‘me time’
We tend to live in a culture of long hours at work and this can quickly become the norm. We need to take time out to re-charge. It may be a Pilates or yoga class, settling down with a good book or playing a musical instrument – whatever works for each of us. Try to set aside some time each week that is ‘me’ time, which might just give you an excuse to leave work on time for those days.
Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or not, such as learning a new language or a new sport, helps to build confidence. This will give us a focus that is different from the stress that we are dealing with. It can help to put a different perspective on things. It’s also really good for us to keep learning new things, it keeps our brains young!
Review working habits
We need to make sure that we are working smarter not harder. I’ve already mentioned the long hours we tend to work. When we really look at how productive we are for all those hours, we can start to see that sometimes we are not achieving the right things. Working smarter means prioritising our work, concentrating on the tasks that will make a real difference. Sometimes, just accepting that the in-tray will always be full, makes it easier to cope with.
Try to be positive
Look for the positives in life, and things for which you’re grateful. It’s a really good habit to write down three positive things every day. This helps you to focus on the good stuff instead of the bad stuff. And with practice we can see that no matter how bad the day has seemed, there is always some good stuff that we can record. Doing this last thing at night helps to prime the mind to look for more positives the next day.
Accept the things you can’t change
Changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible. Try to concentrate on the things you do have control over. If work is causing stress, that may be something we can’t change. But we can change the way we think about work and focus on some other important aspects of our life, for example our family or favourite pastimes.
The tips above are designed to help us to manage our stress better. The keys to this are building emotional strength, being in control of your situation, having a good social network and adopting a positive outlook. Hopefully, you might find that some of the above tips can help.
If you feel that you need more information about anything you’ve read, feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to have a chat with you to see how I could help.
Change is possible today