Most of us suffer from stress and it can make us unhappy and have a devastating effect on our health and relationships. If you want to change and prevent yourself from getting stressed then the following tips should help you.
Avoid too many Stimulants
We are exposed to more stimulants than we might think on a daily basis. These not only include drugs (prescription, over the counter and illegal), alcohol and tobacco but caffeine and theobromine. These are found in coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks and fizzy drinks such as coke, as well as some pain killers. All stimulants make changes in the chemicals in our body making us more alert, however they can also make us more likely to be stressed so beware of how many you are having.
Exercise is a great way to get rid of the stress hormones n the body. Stress hormones are released to help us to get out of danger and this used to need physical exertion of fighting or running away. By exercising we remove those hormones from the body and that helps to reduce the symptoms of stress.
Meditation can help to relax the body and mind and reduce the symptoms of stress. It does not need to involve sitting cross legged in a darkened room staring at a candle. You can do it in any way that suits you. This could be just sitting in a chair and closing the eyes for a while or even doing something that you find relaxing and distracting such as art, singing or reading. There are many ways to relax and meditate and it is worth trying to find one that works for you.
Leave Enough Time
Many people spend a lot of their day rushing around and worrying that they will not have enough time to fit everything in. ‘Busy’ seems to be a buzz word and it almost feels that you are doing something wrong if you are not busy. However, it is possible to fit a lot in but approach it calmly and methodically without feeling busy. Leave enough time for every task by starting it early and you will not feel so hassled and stressed.
It can be possible to identify certain stressors that always make you feel stressed. Perhaps if you are late and get stuck in traffic, or you find that talking to certain people or watching the news makes you stressed. Think carefully and identify things that make you stressed and think of ways that you can avoid them or minimise your exposure to them.
Being tired can make us more likely to get stressed. It can be easy to get into a habit of not sleeping enough and get used to being tired without really realising. Try to give yourself eight hours in bed and go to sleep with a book rather than a mobile device or television as research has shown this leads to a better quality of sleep.
Let go of Stress
Sometimes we get stressed by things that are out of our control. It might be world events, politician’s behaviour, bosses decisions at work or the weather. It is really important to stand back and make sure that we understand that we have no control over these things and so we need to take them in our stride. It can be difficult and will need practice but it will make for a much more relaxed life.
Research has shown that smiling, even if you are not happy, tricks the brain into thinking that you are happy. This lifts the spirits and helps you to more easily deal with stress. Smiling at other people can also make them feel happier. So you can spread destressors as you meet people by smiling at them and help to improve your own stress levels at the same time.
Avoid Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar happens when we do not eat on time or we eat foods high in sugar. The drop in blood sugar, as a result of not eating or eating high sugar foods can make us feel low in energy and grumpy, which can lead to irritability and stress. There can also be a rise in adrenalin to compensate which can make us feel stressed. So eat foods with long lasting energy release such as wholegrains and proteins and eat regularly.
Take a Break
Many people go through their day rushing around and never taking a break. It is important to stop and take a few minutes for yourself just to give your body and mind a chance to recover. Even if it is just five minutes with a hot drink, a quick stroll or just leaving the room for a few deep breaths. It can make a big difference to how you feel about the situation when you return. It can be most effective at times of high stress.
Do not ‘lose it’
When we get stressed we often get upset, angry or panicked and all of these can be problematic in themselves. Once we get into a highly emotional state it makes it difficult for our logical brain to function properly and we made bad decisions. Therefore try to be aware if you are losing control of your emotions and bring yourself back into control before acting. You can do this by taking a break as suggested above or just being patient with yourself and giving yourself time to calm down.
Write a Journal/diary
Writing down things that have happened in the day gives you a chance to unload. You can think about what happened, how things were handled and maybe how you would change your behaviour. Do not be judgemental of yourself or others but consider it to be a learning experience.
Laughing is so important in life. It really helps to get rid of the stress and make us feel so much better. If you do not have someone to laugh with then read a funny book or watch a funny film or TV program so that you can get a daily dose of laughing in.
Procrastination can be a big source of stress. It can be so easy to want to avoid doing things that you do not like. However, if these things play on your mind, then avoiding them is actually making things worse. Try to work out why you are avoiding it and rationalise those thoughts. Commonly we are afraid of failure but unless we make a start we cannot even try. A task is often easier once you make the first step and this does not have to be a massive one. Once your brain starts working on it, then things will be simpler and you will be able to progress.
Use a to-do-list
A to-do-list can be daunting for some people, showing them exactly how much work they have piling up, but with the right attitude it can really work. List everything that you need to do, whether it is work related, household chores or anything else. Then go through the list and remove the items which do not have to be done that day, perhaps make a new list of those. You may find you can cross some of them off completely. Then see how important each one is and number them with the most important first. You may not want to do the most important because it is difficult and scary, but don’t let that stop you doing anything else. Skip it and move on to other tasks. As you start crossing things off the list, the amount of items will become less daunting and hopefully you will be able to face the ones that you have been avoiding as you see the list shortening and want to finish it.
Talk About it
It can really help to reduce stress if you can talk about the problem. This may mean different things to different people. If you think that you have no one to talk to, then you are wrong. You can talk to yourself, for example and discuss the problem, in private with yourself. You could phone a counselling helpline and talk about it there or even see a counsellor face to face. You may even be able to find a forum or chat room online where you can discuss things. Even if you are not able to talk to people you know, there are many other options available.
Do not ‘Keep up with the Jones’
Although ‘keeping up with the Jones’’ is a rather old fashioned saying, it is still relevant today. It may not be applied in the same way though. It used to mean having to buy all of the latest things to keep up with others, but nowadays it is more far reaching. There is not only pressure to have the latest household items, but technology, cars and clothes as well. It goes even further with pressure to have children and particularly ones that behave perfectly, to have the right diet, perfect figure, right partner, job, money etc. It can be difficult to ignore what everyone else is doing and the pressure put on us to fit in. Social media can make this even worse with people only posting the very best things about themselves which can make us feel undermined.
It is important to take a step back and not only make sure that you are living the life that you want to live but also ignoring those around you who choose to do things differently. Do not feel that you have to be like them, you should be concentrating on your own happiness rather than trying to be like others.
Prioritise Family or Friend Time
Spending time with loved ones, whether that is family or friends can be really important. There is an unconditional love between you and them and this means that whatever is happening to you, they will be there for you and this is important in helping to reduce your stress levels. You do not have to talk to them about your stress but just feeling their support can be enough. If you feel that you are not getting this from them, then choose different friends!
Go for a Walk
Going for a walk can be a really relaxing process. Many people walk for a purpose, hurry off between places and do not actually appreciate the walking. Try to look around when walking, focus your mind on your surroundings rather than thoughts of your stressors. Enjoy the things you see and notice what you like. You may be able to walk in pretty countryside and enjoy the wildlife but even if you are in a built up area you can still enjoy the architecture and other things around you.
Switch off the Technology
We live our lives with so much technology these days. We might wake up to a clock radio, check our emails, send texts, work on a computer all day, catch up on television, look at social media and listen to music. Although these things can help us to forget our stress, then may not be as relaxing as alternatives. Consider taking half an hour a day away from it. Think of something that you can do without technology. You may consider one of the things higher in the list or something that you used to do before you got a mobile device. These take up a lot of our time, adding to how ‘busy’ we are and how much time we have to do other things. Many of us use a mobile device while doing other things such as cooking, talking, watching TV etc and this makes it more difficult for us to concentrate but also to relax. It may be difficult to physically switch these things off, but hopefully when you do so, it will allow you to mentally switch off for some time as well.