August 23, 2017

Ten Top Tips For Managing Stress

Ten Top Tips For Managing Stress

1. Pay more attention to the present moment

It is easy to rush through life without stopping to notice much. Paying attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing. There are so many wonderful things all around us; each experience can either be rushed through, or it can be valued.

How often do you actually taste every mouthful of the food you eat? We are so busy eating on the go, or multi-tasking, we barely even notice the food in our mouth. The same goes for everything else in our lives; we are so busy thinking ahead to the next thing on our ‘to-do’ list we barely pay attention to what’s happening right now. If we spent less time thinking about everything that will happen in the future, we would be a lot less stressed.

2. Learn to manage your day effectively

We spend a lot of time focussing on and worrying about the unimportant things in our life. Prioritising workload whether at home or at work will make life easier. Make a to do list and colour code the items on it into ‘do today’ ‘do this week’ and ‘do when I can’.

Write down everything you need to do, so you can stop thinking about it. You will find then that the things you code as 'do when I can' may even be allowed to eventually fall by the wayside. If colour coding your list isn't your cup of tea, you could write on post it notes (colour coded or not) and stick them on your wall. Organise them into sections and pull down once the task is done.

Alternatively you could start using a daily planner or default diary to keep on top of the recurring events in your life.

3. Be mindful of your well being

Eating healthily and undertaking some form of physical activity on a regular basis helps keep your mind and body healthy which results in helping you to cope better with stress if it were to occur.

A diet containing plenty of protein and slow release carbohydrates will help, as will cutting down on alcohol and sugar.

High energy exercise is great for burning off any nervous energy you have building up. whereas a slower paced yoga type activity will help to switch off your brain for a while and slow you down. Both are good sources of stress relief for different reasons.

4. Limit the amount you take on

Knowing your limitations is key to being stress free; nowadays we are expected to do most jobs ourselves and in double quick time, which isn’t always possible. Being aware of how far you can stretch yourself, learning to delegate or just say ‘NO’ can help maintain a stress free life.

Make a list of the things you have on your plate and decide which ones you can change, and which you can't. For example, there are certain things you have to do, such as go to work and pay your bills etc. However, there are some things you can pay someone else to do, such as the cleaning and ironing, which will free up some of your time. This isn't possible for everyone, I know, but get creative! What can you do less often, or in less time? What can you delegate to someone else (at work or at home)?

5. Accept the things you cannot change

Accept the fact that there are some situations that can’t be changed; often we try to change the things that are out of our control which can cause stress. It is more beneficial to use your energy only for the things that are within your control.

For example - maybe there is someone you work with or have to deal with regularly who is rude. It upsets you and spoils your day. You feel stressed after having spent time in their company. Well - you don't have to feel like that! It's all in your control. You can decide that you will not let their behaviour affect you. I'm not saying it's easy, but I am saying it can be done with practise. Whenever someone is unpleasant, we need to remember that it is their problem - it says a lot more about them than it does us. We can't change their behaviour - but we can change our response to it.

There are other things that we can feel stressed about that we cannot change - and these are the things we may need to use specific techniques for; but at the end of the day, if you can't do anything about it, then stressing about it makes no difference to the outcome. Try to use that energy to solve a problem that you can do something about.

6. Try to see things differently

We all get bogged down with mundane daily life, and sometimes we stress ourselves out over things that we really shouldn't. Putting a positive spin on things can help change our attitude towards the aspects of our lives we don’t like, or we complain about. Really, it's about gratitude - be grateful for the good things in your life and 'don't sweat the small stuff'.

For example:

You have dishes to wash (what a chore) but actually, you are so lucky to have food to eat - and a choice of food at that - from clean utensils in a warm home.

You have laundry to do (again!?) but actually, you are lucky to have nice clothes to wear; clothes you have chosen and have been able to pay for, that keep you warm and looking good.

There is lots of noise around you (can't anyone get any peace around here?) but actually, you are lucky that you have people in your life, usually people who love you and care about you who have chosen to be in your company.

You are exhausted, feeling sore & tired in bed (what a day!) but actually, you know what? You're still alive! Now, how lucky is that? :-)

7. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine

Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are stimulants. We think they are making us feel calmer, but, with long term use they trigger the stress response within us which, in reality, makes our stress levels rise.

8. Get More Sleep

We understand that falling asleep can be problematic if you are feeling worried; however, lack of sleep can lead to feeling stressed. A few simple suggestions to encourage a better night sleep are:

-Write down what is on your mind.

-Take a warm shower/bath before bedtime, make sure your bedroom is cool and not overheated.

- Drink camomile tea or hot chocolate before bed.

-Turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bed (yes - the important status updates on Facebook will have to wait til morning I'm afraid)

- Reading a book in bed can often induce sleep (beware of books that are really good: they have a tendency to keep you reading all night!)

-You could try a progressive muscle relaxation exercise (such as this one) or a guided meditation to help you drift off (headspace is a good app for this)

9. Find time to relax

Nowadays finding time to relax is a rarity, and sometimes our to-do list gives us the impression that we don’t have time to stop. It's your choice though. Yes - you are busy - but things can wait. Ask yourself if you can postpone, delegate or even get rid of some of the things on your list.

Taking time out should be given equal priority on your list. Mindfulness and meditation are a good way to stop, switch off and recharge. You'd be surprised at how much more efficient your brain is if you allow it to switch off once in a while: many of the world's wealthiest people take meditation very seriously.

10.             Spend time doing the things you love

This might be spending time with friends or loved ones, or it might be time spent on a hobby. Whatever it is, enjoy it, immerse yourself in it, and be present.

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Rachael Blackmore

Rachael Blackmore is a qualified counsellor and relationship therapist. She focuses on helping you explore yourself and your patterns of behavior in order to find successful, committed relationship with a partner who deserves you! She provides support for men and women searching for The One and wondering why they haven't found them yet.

Rachael believes in the power of relationship: she will build a relationship with you where trust and acceptance facilitate open communication about the things that are troubling you. She is  passionate about her work and committed to helping you explore your difficult feelings and experiences to find a way to feel better and experience life differently. With a Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling, Rachael works as an integrative  therapist. This means she draws on the Person-Centred approach and  Psychodynamic theory to work collaboratively with you to improve your mental  and emotional well-being.

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