There are steps you can take to cope and better manage the stress in your life. Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. Not always as easy as it sounds; stressors are not always obvious, you might even overlook your stress inducing thoughts or minimise how stressed you are.
Here are our tips for dealing with stress:
Identify your stressor – the most common stressors are work, family and finances. These are broad titles so the next thing to do is figure out what is stressful about your particular one. What is it about work? For instance, is it procrastination, deadlines, relationships in work? What is it about family? Is it in-laws, teenage kids, partner’s stress? What is it about finances? Bills, mortgage, want to go on holidays? Once you’ve figured out the cause of the stress you need to tackle it head on!
Look at your attitudes around stress – how you view stress and the way you explain it to yourself is a big part of dealing with it. Rather than constantly explaining it away, or ignoring it, you might need to accept it and manage it directly.
- Do you explain stress away as temporary? (“I’m just busy this week”)
- Do you accept stress as part of your life? (“Sure, things are always mad around here”)
- Do you blame your stress on others? (Well, if that project was handed in on time, I wouldn’t be behind)
Once you understand that stress is a part of life but needs to be dealt with and not ignored you can start using different techniques to become a master of your stress levels.
There are two ways of dealing with stress. The unhealthy way or the much better, but not so easy, healthy way.
Unhealthy ways of coping with stress
- Smoking or drinking to excess
- Over or under eating or sleeping
- Zoning out for hours while watching TV
- Withdrawing from people and hobbies
- Taking your stress out on others
Healthy ways of dealing with stress
- Avert or alter the stressor (change the situation)
- Adapt to or accept the stressor (change your reaction)
Avert – learn to say ‘NO’ when possible, keeping your workload manageable. Avoid people who stress you out; people always being negative can rub off on us, so stay clear when you need time for yourself. Make a to-do list but keep it manageable, this helps us feel like we can achieve our goals and keeps us motivated.
Alter – express your feelings instead of bottling them up, no one likes a stress-induced shouting match! Be willing to compromise but also be more assertive; sometimes it’s right to concede and other times you need to speak up. Having good time-management & task-management skills reduce stress immeasurably, so take a look at how you can improve on this aspect of your life, both at home and in work.
Adapt – look at the bigger picture/reframe the problem, sometimes you need to step back and review. Focus on the positive, even if it seems small. Every cloud has a silver lining.
Accept – don’t try to control that which can’t be controlled. Letting go of control reduces stress levels. Learn to forgive people and yourself for not being ‘perfect’ and learn from every situation that causes you stress so that you can tackle the next time better.
Relaxation time – having time dedicated to a stress-free hobby is a great way of heading off stress before it takes hold. Be sure to do things you enjoy like reading or going for walks and meeting friends. Be sure to exercise regularly, reduce caffeine and sugar intake which can have an impact on stress levels, and to get enough sleep.
So take a few deep breaths, and take those first steps to tackling stress in your life. It can feel overwhelming, but these simple tips could just make the difference.