How to stay calm and reduce the stress in your life
Take a time-out
The best thing you can do for yourself when stressed is to take a break. Plan time for rest and relaxation. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. 10-15 minutes a day will reduce tension and helps to clear your head and replenishes energy levels.
Our diet is closely related to stress levels. Try to avoid sugary fatty foods which can cause energy crashes and can make you tired and irritable; have healthy snacks such as nuts to hand. Swap caffeinated and alcoholic drinks that aggravate stress for water, herbal teas, and aim to keep yourself hydrated to help your body cope better.
Get enough sleep
When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest. Prepare for sleep by avoiding stimulants or mentally demanding activities before bedtime and take time to relax e.g. in a bath.
Exercise can release the endorphins, help you feel good and maintain your health. Going for a brisk walk in the fresh air will relieve any tension and improve your sleep quality. Breathe Take a few minutes - sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on your knees. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply, ten times focussing on your lungs as they expand and empty fully in your chest. Deep breathing oxygenates blood, helps centre your body and clears your mind.
Plan and prioritise
Take a few minutes to create a plan for the week ahead, giving yourself tasks to complete on specific days. Having this in place will help you feel prepared and will keep you calm. Prioritise and delegate tasks to remove them from your list. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get.
Take it one day at a time
When looking forward at all you need to do can be overwhelming and easy to lose sight of the day in front of you. As each day approaches, focus on what you need to get done on that day and do what you can to avoid thinking too far ahead. Accept that you cannot control everything
Keep stress in perspective
Is it really as bad as you think? Decide to let things go and realise that there are some things you can’t control.
Use humour to deflate a situation and laughter releases endorphins that improve mood and decrease levels of the stress-causing hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Laughing tricks your nervous system into making you happy.
Stress can cloud your judgement and prevent you from seeing things clearly - a problem shared is a problem halved. Talking things through with a friend, work colleague, or even a trained professional, can help you find solutions and keep things in perspective. Let friends and family know how they can help you.
Maintain a positive attitude
Make an effort to replace negative thoughts and worries with positive, helpful ones. Try identifying and recording three things at the end of each day that you are grateful for or that went well.
Set your and others’ expectations
Remind yourself that you don’t always have to help out - you can say “no” when you need to. Practice some pre-prepared phrases to let other people down more gently. You don’t have to do everything yourself, take a step back and realise that you can ask for help.
Learn what triggers your anxiety
Is it work, family, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
Write down the problem and identify as many possible solutions as you can. Decide on good and bad points for each one and select the best solution. Write down the steps you need to take to implement it.
And finally some little pieces of wisdom ...........
“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” Sydney J. Harris
“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” Winnie the Pooh