Some people handle stressful events with ease, whilst others have a hard time. For example, someone with a fear of flying may just feel slightly anxious before getting on a plane. Another person with the same fear might experience a debilitating form of anxiety, possibly in the form of a panic attack and avoid airports and flying entirely.
No matter what your stress triggers, there are processes that can be followed to help you to cope with stress more effectively, which we discuss below. However, this is merely a guideline. Should you be experiencing severe stress, it is advised that you consult with your doctor or mental healthcare professional.
Identify your stressors
Although challenging at times, it is important to try and identify your stressors. Start to think about what causes the most amount of stress for you. This could be a person, situation or task. Try to pick up on the patterns of your stress.
Try to change your stressors
Some stress cannot be avoided, but it can be managed. If the stress is within your control, try to find ways to manage it correctly. If traffic stresses you, try listening to an e-book whilst driving or experimenting with route and time changes.
It starts with changing small things that in turn can be contributing to a great deal of stress.
Set your own limits
Sometimes we take on more than we can handle in life, and before you know it you are overwhelmed with work and responsibilities. It is important to learn to say “no” in order to improve your own mental health. It is sometimes difficult to turn people down or disappoint them, but in not overwhelming yourself you will be happier and less stressed, resulting in others in your life being happier too. You need to be realistic about your capabilities.
Organise your life
If you find yourself being overwhelmed with tasks, set deadlines and make lists prioritising items of importance. Complete the items one at a time. You will find yourself working through the list in no time and have a sense of accomplishment as you're doing it.
Ask for help when you feel stressed
Talk to people about your stress. Tell your boss about what is on your plate and what you are currently working on. Speak to friends and family about your situation as they may be able to offer guidance or be able to identify your stressors and possibly help in stopping them. Consult with your doctor on professional help should you feel you require it.
Be healthy and active
Exercising and keeping active will help to reduce the stress and frustration in your life. It is good for your physical and mental health and can aid in relieving built-up daily frustrations. The release of natural endorphins during exercise are basically natural pain killers for your brain. Regular exercise, even if it is just walking 30 minutes a day, will help in boosting your confidence, improve your sleep and help you deal with stress.
There are also certain practices that can help relieve the symptoms of stress:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Tai chi
Taking up a new hobby also aids in relaxing the mind and gives you something positive to work towards or focus on. Whether it be building model aeroplanes or even training to run a race. Try to give your mind and body things to work towards in a way that doesn’t induce performance anxiety and further stress.
Speak to a dietitian about a healthy eating plan, this will also help in decreasing your stress levels as you will have more energy and feel healthier.
Try to be optimistic
It is best to surround yourself with positive thoughts. When you begin to notice your stress levels rising, watch a funny video, go for a quick walk, listen to music or talk to someone who makes you laugh.
Be kind to yourself
Many of us have very negative inner conversations, and we're hard on ourselves, this can add to any stress we're facing. Ask yourself... would I speak to a friend or someone I love the way I speak to myself? The answer is probably 'no'. Be mindful of adjusting that inner voice so that it becomes helpful in managing stress rather than adding to it.