Stress is unavoidable. At some point in all of our lives, we feel stressed. Not only is this normal it is also, at certain times, important. Stress is key to our survival as humans, and plays an important part in our warning system, producing the fight-or-flight response. You may have found that some moments of stress can be beneficial and motivating; however, if left to fester, it can lead to anxiety and health problems.
Some common signs of this are irritability, anxiety, trouble sleeping, headaches and inability to concentrate, all of which can have a major impact on your day to day life. So it is important to improve the way you deal with stress. Below are some of my top tips on managing stress:
One of the best and most documented solutions to stress relief is exercise. Every ‘much of the same’ article will include this ‘remedy’ and for good reason. Not only does exercise increase ‘happy hormones’ and release physical tension but it can be a helpful distraction.
A lot of people like boxing or a similar physically aggressive exercise to really get that anger and tension out but even simply spending 10 minutes stretching at home may surprise you.
Meditation / Mindfulness
A common and sometimes overwhelming symptom of stress is the inability to quiet the mind. Personally, my stress manifests in this way, preventing me from switching my mind off, affecting my sleep and giving me a ‘fuzzy head’.
Taking time to meditate or practise mindfulness is not only a good preventative method for stress but a great way to help calm the mind and allow you time to recover and rationally assess your difficulties.
Sometimes your stress levels may be sky high simply because you haven’t stopped for a few days, or weeks, in some cases. Sometimes life can get overloaded and you will suddenly realise you haven’t had a minute to yourself.
Being constantly on the go and never taking a minute to stop will put a strain on your mind and body and one great way to balance that out is some much-needed pampering.
You can book a spa day if you can afford it or simply get out the bath bombs, candles and face masks and do it yourself at home.
Watch mindless TV
This is one you don’t see recommended very often but I do find really works for me when I am feeling a little overwhelmed and can’t seem to get out of my own head. This is normally when trying to shut down before bed and all the worry’s knocking around in my head suddenly all wake up to say hello in unison.
I have found that sticking on a mindless and simple show, normally ‘Family Guy’ for me, will help to switch me off and give me a little chuckle in the process.
Talk to Someone
Whether you are just having a bad week or are worried you may be struggling with much larger issues it is always good to speak with someone.
Do not keep it all bottled up inside. Open up, get it off your chest. You will be surprised with how many people with be in the same position or how just telling someone you are struggling may open the door to potential solutions.
Call a friend, your mum, your partner. If it is not something you feel comfortable talking about with people in your life, consider speaking to a professional.
Write about it
This is something I started doing a couple of years back when I was particularly overwrought for a few months. Simply get a notebook or diary out and write it down in bullet points all the aspects of life that are causing you stress.
I find that once it is written down in front of me, simple with no elaboration, it doesn’t seem quite so overpowering. At that point, you can choose to use the list to methodically start tackling the issues one by one.
Listen / Dance to Music
My Saturdays are generally taken up with house chores. This is fine, but sometimes it is the last thing I want to be doing when I have had a long and stressful week at work.
So I put my music one – LOUD – and I sing and dance around the house while I do my jobs! Not only does it make the process more enjoyable but listening to upbeat and happy music that you like is proven to release dopamine (feelgood chemical) which will boost mood and lessen stress.
Just don’t listen to Adele if you are going through a rough time in a relationship or else you may end up in the foetal position on the floor.
Spend time with friends and family
Socialising is potentially the last thing you may want to do if they have had a bad day or week, however, spending time with friends and family is a great way to shake off the baggage and distract yourself with fun and laughter.
Laughter is food for the soul and I have always found that no matter what is going on, one evening of giggles with my girlfriends will always make things seems less daunting. They are also great people to seek advice from as they are the people that know you the best.
Increased levels of stress can have an effect on your emotionally and even physically. It is important to be aware of this and take note when you start to feel physically feel run down – this is the point where you are at risk of a ‘burn out’ which can lead to many more issues.
If you are physically affected by stress the first thing you need to do is rest. Rest your body and your mind. Literally, do nothing. Stay home, sleep and recover. Our bodies are not immune to the effects of life and it is not a weakness to admit when you need time to recover.
Avoid / Change it
You can put into action all the ideas above to lessen the stress on a day to day basis and to wind down after a long week, but ultimately the overwhelming feeling will not disappear if the issues are not resolved.
The best thing you can do to prevent stress is to avoid or change the situations that cause it. This could be as simple as speaking to your boss and telling him your workload is too much and you need an assistant or speaking to someone about the debt you are in and finding a reasonable solution to help you get yourself out of it.
This is easier said than done in some instances but it is also important if you want to move forward.
I hope the above has given you some helpful tips to alleviate some of the stress in your life. Life is never easy and you don’t ever have to tackle the hard times on your own.
Leave a comment below if there is anything else you do that helps with those stressful times, I would love to hear from you all.