Life can be stressful and at times you’ll have to take steps to deal with ongoing stress in a positive way. Stress can have a variety of causes such as family problems, job problems, financial difficulties, or even the death of someone close to you. It is important to recognise the causes (some stress is natural) and, if possible, take steps to deal with the root of the problem or ask for help from friends and, in severe cases, professionals.
- Start the day with reflection, spiritual or otherwise, and set goals of what needs to be achieved in that day. Review these again before sleeping at the end of the day.
- Eat a healthy breakfast and snack on healthy food only. Your choice of food is very important when dealing with stress, stay away from sugary snacks and have unsalted nuts and fruit available. Water is the best drink and stay off alcohol which always adds to stress one way or another. Caffeine is also known to raise stress levels, so again it is best to drink water.
- Listen to supportive positive music. Bach and Mozart can be effective if you like classical music, but tastes are different. Choose music that encourages you to relax and breathe slower.
- Be aware of your choices; you always have a choice. This is true for emotions and work. Sometimes you need to let your emotions out but still stay in control.
- Talk to friends. This is one of the most important things, as keeping things bottled up can only cause more stress.
- Know your limits and do not push yourself too hard or beat yourself up when you do not achieve your goals or find that you cannot cope.
- Try to exercise a little everyday.
- Take a good vitamin/mineral mix tablet; some vitamins help you cope with stress.
- Remember to get enough sleep, and, if possible, get into regular sleeping habits.
- Learn to say no; you cannot do everything you are asked.
- Try and visualize positive things; this does not take long but can help you regain focus.
- Try some relaxation techniques or breathing techniques.
- Prioritise your tasks and work to finish them starting with the highest priority work.
- Learn how to delegate.
- Just focus on one task at a time.
- Do not worry about what you cannot change. Learning to accept things as they are is an important coping mechanism, but not as easy as it sounds.
- Congratulate yourself for your achievements.
- Try to “use” stress, find something that you want to do or have been putting off and focus on that task but make sure this is not a form of escapism.
- If you know something is going to add to your stress, take positive steps to prepare in advance.
- Identify causes of other hassles and minor stresses and eliminate them if possible.
- Keep a journal or diary where you can write down your thoughts, express yourself and analyze situations.
- Be honest about your emotions, do not deny them or repress them as this will only add to the stress. Do not be afraid to cry as this can relieve anxiety and let out bottled-up emotions which can help you cope.
- If you need to apologise to someone, and it will not make the situation worse, find a way to do so. Guilt adds pain to stress.
- Plan an event in the future to look forward to. Planning using imagination can also help reduce stress.
- Seek out positive friends.
- Make space for yourself and allow yourself to breath.
- Do not expect perfection from yourself.
- Do not be a people pleaser always giving into others.
- Maintain perspective and be aware that things might not be as stressful as you first thought. Look at what things are important in your life as against the causes of the stress.
- Be a friend to yourself and do not feel guilty for taking time for yourself.
- If you cannot cope with the stress, ask for help. If friends and family cannot help, seek out medical advice.
- Avoid escapism as it will not help you cope apart from in the most extreme cases in which you should seek medical help anyway.
- TV can also be a way to avoid.
- Avoid self-medication including alcohol and drugs, prescription or otherwise.