Are you feeling super stressed? Ten simple strategies that can help you now
Have you noticed your stress spiralling out of control? Perhaps you are more snappy, tearful or short tempered. Maybe you are having trouble sleeping or you are experiencing stomach upsets. Stress can manifest itself in us physically as well as emotionally but we don't always recognise the signs.
Whilst short periods of stress can motivate us to get things done and help us to achieve our goals, stress that is chronic or prolonged can be more problematic. If your body is in a constant state of 'fight or flight' then it cannot function efficiently.
If you are concerned about your levels of stress, check out these 10 strategies which you can start implementing right away. Just one of two of these could make a real difference to how you feel if you practice them regularly.
It has long been acknowledged that exercise boosts your endorphins and reduces the effects of stress. If finding the time to get more exercise is hard, you could always start running up and down your stairs a few times, doing some squats or trying to fit more steps into your day.
ASSESS WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
A lot of stress can come from trying to control things that we have no power over. I find this image really helpful when working with clients experiencing stress. It can be useful to identify that sometimes we are wasting our energy on circumstances that we just cannot change. We can then re-direct that attention to things that we can influence.
PRIORITISE 'ME TIME'
This can be whatever you want it to be, whether that is a walk, a bubble bath, an hour reading your book or some time listening to music or a podcast. We all need time alone to re-charge our batteries and give us the space to think and feel.
SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE WHO SOOTHE YOU
Human beings are social animals, and our relationships and connections with other people matter to us. Connecting with people who calm us helps to regulate our own nervous systems and can build a sense of belonging and self-worth.
KEEP A POSITIVITY JOURNAL
This can help you to start focusing on the good stuff in life. It can put some space between you and your stress and give you a new perspective. See my previous post journalling for better mental health.
TALK TO SOMEONE
Talking about our problems with someone we trust can be profoundly healing—reducing stress, strengthening our immune system, and easing emotional distress. If you find it difficult to talk to friends and family then there are other options such as support groups or helplines. You could also contact a counsellor for talking therapy. To find a counsellor in your area, The BACP Directory is a good site as it only lists professionals that meet certain strict standards.
LOOK AT YOUR DIET
Certain foods can lower levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Other foods can reduce stress on your body by lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation and strengthening your immune system. For tips and ideas on how to use diet to help with stress, check out this BBC Food page.
HAVE A GOOD SLEEP ROUTINE
Sleeping can be difficult when you are stressed but the following might help you to achieve just a little more shut eye. Attempt to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time each morning. Try to cut down on caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime and avoid eating too late. Your body does not want to be working overtime digesting a big meal when you are trying to sleep. If worries keep you awake at night you could try writing them down before you go to sleep or when you are ruminating on them in the early hours. Getting these thoughts down on paper can sometimes be enough to free them from your mind.
TRY RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
Whether this is yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation or deep breathing - there is sure to be something that will help to relax you. You tube is a great resource for any of these new habits. If you are interested in yoga then I would definitely recommend Yoga with Adriene. Try working any new practice into your daily routine so that it comes as naturally to you as cleaning your teeth.
TRY TO IDENTIFY YOUR TRIGGERS
You may want to keep a diary so that you can reflect on any triggers at the end of the day. What was happening when you experienced the most stress? Who were you with? What were you doing? Was there something that you wanted to be doing instead? Did you over-commit or put one too many jobs on your 'to do' list? Once you have identified where the stress is coming from you can start to look at ways to reduce it. This isn't always easy and may take some time but the results could mean your stress levels really reduce.
I hope that these ideas have helped. If you have others to add please do share them below.