We've all felt it. Sometimes stress can be a positive force, motivating us to perform well at a piano recital or job interview. But often, like when you're stuck in traffic and you are late for a meeting, it's a negative force. If you experience stress over a prolonged period of time, it could become chronic, wear your systems down and become a much bigger problem, unless you take action.
With the introduction of COVID and the unprecedented changes that have happened over the past few months, many of us are feeling the effects of stress more than ever.
Here are a few helpful tips to help you reduce/manager the stress in your lives:
1. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine.
Avoid, or at least reduce, your consumption of nicotine and any drinks containing caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and will increase your level of stress rather than reduce it.
Alcohol is a depressant when taken in large quantities however, acts as a stimulant in smaller quantities. Therefore, using alcohol as a way to alleviate stress is not ultimately helpful.
2. Indulge in Physical Activity
Stressful situations increase the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in your body. Exercise helps flush those hormones out.
3. Try to get More Sleep
A lack of sleep is a significant cause of stress. Unfortunately, stress also interrupts our sleep as thoughts keep whirling through our heads, stopping us from relaxing enough to fall asleep.
4. Try Relaxation Techniques
There are many tried and tested ways to reduce stress so try a few and see what works best for you. Some ideas include: meditation, soft quiet music, visualization exercises. Check out next week’s post for a sample “Walking Meditation”.
5. Talk to Someone
Just talking to someone about how you feel can be helpful.
Talking can work by either distracting you from your stressful thoughts or releasing some of the built-up tension by discussing it. Sometimes we just need to say things out loud for the release.
6. Keep a Stress Diary
Keeping a stress diary for a few weeks is an effective stress management tool helping you become more aware of the situations which cause you to become stressed.
7. Take Control
Stress can be triggered by a problem that may on the surface seem impossible to solve. Learning how to find solutions to your problems will help you feel more in control thereby lowering your level of stress.
8. Manage Your Time
At times, we all feel overburdened by our 'To Do' list and this is a common cause of stress. Accept that you can not do everything at once and start to priorities and diaries your tasks.
9. Learn to Say ‘No’
A common cause of stress is having too much to do and too little time in which to do it. And yet in this situation, many people will still agree to take on additional responsibility. Learning to say “No” to additional or unimportant requests will help to reduce your level of stress, and may also help you develop more self-confidence.
10. Rest If You Are Ill
If you are feeling unwell, do not feel that you have to carry on regardless. A short spell of rest will enable the body to recover faster. One of the best “half full” outcomes from the COVID situations is the return to allowing our bodies to be sick and not trying to push through.