Stress is part of being human, and it can help motivate you to get things done. Even high stress from serious illness, job loss, a death in the family, or a painful life event can be a natural part of life. You may feel down or anxious, and that’s normal too for a while. Talk to your doctor if you feel down or anxious for more than several weeks or if it starts to interfere with your home or work life. Therapy, medication, and other strategies can help. In the meantime, there are things you can learn to manage stress before it gets to be too much. There are countless techniques for managing stress.
Yoga, mindfulness meditation, and exercise are just a few examples of stress-relieving activities that work wonders. But in the heat of the moment, during a high-pressured job interview, for example, or a disagreement with your spouse, you can’t just excuse yourself to meditate or take a long walk. In these situations, you need something more immediate and accessible. One of the speediest and most reliable ways to stamp out stress is to engage one or more of your senses—sight, sound, taste, smell, touch—or through movement. Since everyone is different, you’ll need to do some experimenting to discover which technique works best for you—but the payoff is huge. You can stay calm, productive, and focused when you know how to quickly relieve stress. Women sitting next to each other with coffee, facing each other, connecting, smiling Social interaction is your body’s most evolved and surefire strategy for regulating the nervous system. Talking face-to-face with a relaxed and caring listener can help you quickly calm down and release tension. Although you can’t always have a pal to lean on in the middle of a stressful situation, maintaining a network of close relationships is vital for your mental health. Between sensory-based stress relief and good listeners, you’ll have your bases covered. How can I identify the signs of stress? Everyone experiences stress. However, when it is affecting your life, health and wellbeing, it is important to tackle it as soon as possible, and while stress affects everyone differently, there are common signs and symptoms you can look out for:15 Feelings of constant worry or anxiety Feelings of being overwhelmed Difficulty concentrating Mood swings or changes in your mood Irritability or having a short temper Difficulty relaxing Depression Low self-esteem Eating more or less than usual Changes in your sleeping habits Using alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs to relax Aches and pains, particularly muscle tension Diarrhoea and constipation Feelings of nausea or dizziness Loss of sex drive.
Three steps to take when feeling stressed
1. Realise when it is causing you a problem Try to make the connection between feeling tired or ill and the pressures you are faced with Look out for physical warnings such as tense muscles, over-tiredness, headaches or migraines.
2. Identify the causes Try to identify the underlying causes Sort the possible reasons for your stress into three categories
1) those with a practical solution 2) those that will get better given time and
3)those you can’t do anything about Try to release the worry of those in the second and third groups and let them go 3. Review your lifestyle Could you be taking on too much? Are there things you are doing which could be handed over to someone else? Can you do things in a more leisurely way? To act on the answer to these questions, you may need to prioritise things you are trying to achieve and re-organise your life This will help to release pressure that can come from trying to do everything at once
Seven steps to help protect yourself from stress
1. Eat healthily Eating healthily can reduce the risks of diet-related diseases39 There is a growing amount of evidence showing how food affects our mood40 and how eating healthily can improve this You can protect your feelings of wellbeing by ensuring that your diet provides adequate amounts of brain nutrients such as essential vitamins and minerals, as well as water41
2. Be aware of smoking and drinking alcohol Try not to, or reduce the amount you smoke and drink alcohol Even though they may seem to reduce tension initially, this is misleading as they often make problems worse42
3. Exercise Try and integrate physical exercise into your lifestyle as it can be very effective in relieving stress Even just going out and getting some fresh air, and taking some light physical exercise, like going for a walk to the shops can really help43
4.Take time out Take time to relax Strike the balance between responsibility to others and responsibility to yourself, this can really reduce stress levels Tell yourself that it is okay to prioritise self-care · Are you needing time out but saying ‘I just can’t take the time off’, if so read more about how taking a break is important for good mental health
4. Be mindful Mindfulness is a mind-body approach to life that helps us to relate differently to experiences. It involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings in a way that increases our ability to manage difficult situations and make wise choices Try to practice mindfulness regularly Mindfulness meditation can be practiced anywhere at any time Research has suggested that it can reduce the effects of stress, anxiety and related problems such as insomnia, poor concentration and low moods, in some people44 Our Be Mindful website features a specially developed online course in mindfulness, as well as details of local courses in your area
5. Get some restful sleep Are you finding you are struggling to sleep? This is a common problem when you’re stressed45 Could your physical or mental health be impacting your ability to sleep? Could you amend your environment to help improve your sleep? Could you get up instead of staying in bed when your mind is worrying at night? Could you make small changes to your lifestyle to help your get a restful sleep? For full details on tips on getting a good night’s sleep read our guide How to sleep better and ten top tips for good sleep
6. Don’t be too hard on yourself Try to keep things in perspective. Remember that having a bad day is a universal human experience When your inner critic or an outer critic finds faults, try and find truth and exception to what is being said If you stumble or feel you have failed, don’t beat yourself up Act as if you were your own best friend: be kind and supportive Take a few minutes each day to appreciate yourself