Managing the Stress in your Life
Life is busy and often stressful as we try to fit more and more into our everyday lives. Whilst a little stress is usually manageable and can motivate you to perform well, there are certain times and events in life that produce significantly higher levels of stress. When this stress is allowed to go on for an indefinite period of time, or continues to build in intensity, it can have a huge impact upon your mind and body health.
Managing stress is as much about your thought processes as it is the lifestyle you are living. Some tips to help you manage stress include;
- Aim to maintain a positive mindset and look for ways to turn a negative situation into a positive one. Maintaining a positive outlook helps you to move on and seek ways to overcome difficult times. The more you focus on the negatives, the more likely you are to remain stuck in your current situation.
- Exercise – regular exercise helps you to relax your body and mind and also helps to improve your mood. Stressful situations increase the amount of cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones) in your body. With the help of physical exercise these hormones can be re-balanced, therefore increasing your ability to cope.
- Relax your muscles – stress causes muscles to tense up, headaches and a general feeling of being unwell. Taking the time to relax your muscles and mind can help with overall wellness and decision-making ability. Deep breathing exercises, meditation or massages can help with this.
- Get more sleep – lack of sleep has a significant impact on your ability to cope with stress, so going to bed feeling relaxed is really important. Implementing a relaxation routine before going to bed can significantly increase the quality of your sleep and minimise stressful thoughts which distract you from sleeping. Relaxation routines could include taking a warm bath, meditation, reading an undemanding book or listening to calming music. Having a pre-bedtime routine and going to bed at roughly the same time will help your body to realise when it should be sleeping.
- Eat well – A diet high in nutritional content will increase general wellness and help your body to function effectively. Your meals should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains and lean proteins. It is also important to eat regularly to avoid putting additional stress on your body and avoid caffeine as it acts as a stimulant and reduces your ability to relax.
- Keep a stress diary – sometimes we feel stressed without actually realising what causes it. A stress diary helps you to track when you are feeling stressed and learn to recognise the events or situations which increase your stress levels. Note down the date, time and place of each stressful episode and take note of what was happening and how you were feeling both physically and emotionally. The diary will help you to understand your stress triggers and enable you to develop coping strategies.
- Learn to say “No” – saying no can relieve you from the pressure of trying to do too much. Once you learn to say no, you will free up time for “me time” or doing the things with your family or friends that you enjoy. Taking the time to do the things you enjoy will greatly reduce your feelings of stress.
- Talk to someone – when we keep problems to ourselves, they seem to grow in size and often appear insurmountable. Sharing a problem with friends, family or a counsellor can help to lessen the load you are carrying and also provide you with the opportunity to discuss possible solutions.
If you feel you could benefit from counselling to help with managing your stress levels, please don’t hesitate to contact Karen Cummins at Mindful Crossroads counselling services on 0400 416 535 or fill in the “Contact” section on the Mindful Crossroads website to arrange a confidential discussion.