Stress is a normal reaction to those times when we feel under pressure. We may have a crisis at work, a health issue or just feel there are not enough hours in the day. Our work life balance may be out of kilter and it is all too easy to let stress get out of hand. Typical ways that people allow stress to overcome them include:
- Withdrawing from friends and family.
- Taking out their stress on others with moods and bad temper.
- Drinking or smoking too much.
- Procrastinating to avoid dealing with problems.
We cannot prevent the feelings of stress that occur as a natural part of life but it is possible to control the bad effects they can have on our life if we let them get out of hand. Here are a few tips to help you:
Exercise – There is nothing like exercise to beat the effects of stress. It releases tension and produces endorphins into our system that promote a feeling of well-being. A good walk or run when we are feeling stressed can get things back in perspective. Try to do some exercise outside in the fresh air. Being in nature can help make our thoughts more positive.
Diet – Eating the right foods can have a dramatic effect on how we feel. Eating foods rich in B vitamins will support your nervous system and help you produce enough energy. Broccoli, Barley, nuts, lentils, and whole grains are just some of the foods you should incorporate in your diet. Vitamin C supports your immune system and complex carbohydrates such as whole grain bread boost our energy levels.
Avoiding alcohol and drugs – Using alcohol to make us feel relaxed and numb the effects of stress does much more harm than good. Alcohol is a depressant so while it might make you feel more relaxed for a while it will ultimately make you feel worse.
Sleep– Getting a good nights rest is one of the most important factors in stress management. Recurrent lack of sleep can make the effects of stress far worse. Try to do something to help you relax before bedtime; reading an uplifting book or article will keep your thoughts happy. Hot milk and a piece of toast and jam will boost your serotonin levels and aid sleep. Avoiding alcohol is key as it leads to broken sleep. If sleep is still a problem during times when you are stressed, do not hesitate to see your doctor.
Daily Relaxation time – Taking 15/20 minutes a day to stop and do nothing but reflect can slow the rush. You can combine this time with a relaxing walk or simply sit somewhere quiet and gather your thoughts.
Keeping a positive attitude – Approaching hard times in a positive and productive way is healthier for our minds and bodies. Thinking the outcome will be the best rather than the worst, can help us cope with stressful situations. If you find you think more negatively about things then it is possible to learn positive thinking: Identify the times when you think more negatively and when you catch yourself taking a negative view then use some positive self talk to see things in a different way. Be open to humour during difficult times and ensure you have positive and supportive people around you to talk to.
If you accept there are some events you cannot control e.g. job loss, bereavement, illness you can learn to put yourself under less pressure.
Manage your time – There are certain situations which cause us stress where we do have control of, e.g. Managing time at work, managing travel times, planning ahead for appointments and social events. If we learn to prepare and prioritise tasks then this helps our daily life run smoothly which leads to fewer unexpected events that can cause us stress.
Seek social support – a good chat with friends that can support you works wonders when we feel stress taking over.
Being aware of when stress is having an adverse affect and doing something about it, will make you happier and healthier.
Seek expert advice – there are experts such as business coaches available who can help you manage your work life balance in such a way as to help you work through your tasks better. This in itself will help you reduce your stress levels.