- Prioritise your health
- Get a good night’s sleep. Feeling tired can increase stress by causing you to think irrationally.
- Practice deep breathing
- Stay hydrated
- Eat for wellbeing
- Get moving to combat Stress. Focused movement helps to get your nervous system back into balance.
- Make the choice not to over-react to stressors and deal with them one at a time
- Accept yourself (and others).
- Deal effectively with mistakes
- Deal effectively with successes also!
- Develop self-discipline and control
- Adopt a positive mid set
- Master your time
- Don’t be a slave to technology
- Learn to say no
- Learn how to manage stress
- Engage socially. The simple act of talking face to face with another human being can release hormones that reduce stress even if you’re still unable to alter the stressful situation.
- Set aside relaxation time. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, prayer, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the fight or flight stress response. Develop a “stress relief toolbox” from your favourite activities. Try and do one every day. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.
- Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get.
- Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
- Manage your energy, not your time.
- Tension Recognition: One form of this therapy involves intentionally clenching groups of muscles in successive areas of the body, for example the hand, shoulders and stomach, concentrating on the tension, feeling it, and then relaxing. The aim is to encourage the recognition of tension when it occurs and to voluntarily relax the muscles when they tense. However, with the very highly stressed, this form of tension recognition could possibly lead to muscle cramps so a second version is preferred. This alternative approach involves stretching rather than tensing the muscles and requires some knowledge of human musculature. Successive muscles are stretched so that opposing muscles contract, and the process is then reversed. The aim is to find the half-way point, where opponent muscles are balanced, and then to relax further. Tension recognition methods are useful in situations where it is not easy to ‘switch off’ external events such as working at a desk or in meetings.
- Welcome humour. A good laugh goes a long way.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
- Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
- Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
- Put on some music and dance!
- Take your dog for a walk.
- Have good boundaries. No when to say no.
- Realize there’s a difference between worrying and caring.
- Make time for fun.
- Keep a Stress Diary. Keeping a stress diary for a few weeks is an effective stress management tool as it will help you become more aware of the situations which cause you to become stressed. Note down the date, time and place of each stressful episode, and note what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt both physically and emotionally. Give each stressful episode a stress rating (on, say, a 1-10 scale) and use the diary to understand what triggers your stress and how effective you are in stressful situations. This will enable you to avoid stressful situations and develop better coping mechanisms.
- Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club.
- Make time for fun.
- Try progressive relaxation: This involves tensing and then relaxing each part of the body in turn, working up through the whole body until completely relaxed. This technique takes about 20-30 minutes to complete and is very effective at bringing about physical relaxation.
- Time management: Effective time management allows the amount of work or other commitments undertaken to be regulated, reduces the uncertainty of not having enough time to complete every task required and allows for the planning of ‘time off’ periods in which to relax.
- Consider taking a vacation.
- Practice visualisations.
- Practice, practice, practice for a long life of resilient living!
- Avoid unnecessary stress. When handling such predictable stressors, you can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose in any given scenario, it’s helpful to think of the four A’s: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.
Avoid the stressor
It’s not healthy to avoid a stressful situation that needs to be addressed, but you may be surprised by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.
- Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, taking on more than you can handle is a sure-fire recipe for stress. Distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts” and, when possible, say “no” to taking on too much.
- Avoid people who stress you out – If someone consistently causes stress in your life, limit the amount of time you spend with that person, or end the relationship.
- Take control of your environment – If the evening news makes you anxious, turn off the TV. If traffic makes you tense, take a longer but less-travelled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online.
Alter the situation
If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
- Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, be more assertive and communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the stress will increase.
- Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behaviour, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.
- Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you’ll find it easier to stay calm and focused.
Adapt to the stressor
How you think can have a profound effect on your stress levels. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself, your body reacts as if it were in the throes of a tension-filled situation. Regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude to stressful situations.
- Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favourite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.
- Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
- Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”
Accept the things you can’t change
Many sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors, such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.
- Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control—particularly the behaviour of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.
- Look for the upside. When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.
- Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.
There are many therapies used to deal with stress, including:
- Alexander technique
- Mindful Meditation
- Tai’ Chi
- Music therapy
- Laughter therapy