Reducing Stress: Tips

Stress affects us all. In moderation it can help us to achieve new heights, but in excess it can take over our life. We’ve put together our top tips to help you reduce the stress in your life by making small achievable adjustments.

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Tip 1: Eliminate caffeine, alcohol and nicotine

Avoiding or at least cutting down on these stimulants will reduce your stress and anxiety levels. Alcohol, although a depressant in large quantities, is actually a stimulant in small quantities. Try swapping these stimulants for herbal teas, decaffeinated coffee or, even better, water.

Tip 2: Move!

Exercise is vital not only for our physical- but also our mental- health. When we are in highly stressful situations our body releases our ‘fight or flight’ hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This can create feelings of panic and anxiety which is our bodies’ way of warning us when we are in a potentially harmful situation or under threat.

However, stress in the modern age can be much more chronic. Physical activity is a good way to channel and reduce these hormones and increase our serotonin and dopamine levels, commonly known as the ‘happy chemicals’.

If, like me, the idea of going to the gym fills you with dread, try going for a run or even a brisk walk. Anything is better than nothing and it’s also a great opportunity to get some fresh air – especially before or after a long day in an office environment.

Tip 3: Try Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about feeling present and taking each situation for what it is instead of what you want it to be. Practise the mantra ‘here, now’. The idea of stopping for a few minutes to focus on your breathing may seem a bit pointless to many people, but just try it!

If you feel overwhelmed, go outside, practise breathing deeply and find something new that you haven’t noticed before to focus on. For example, have you ever noticed how many silver cars are in your car park, or what the colour of your colleagues’ eyes are? There are lots of books and blogs on mindfulness, if you would like more information, Google is a good place to start.

We touch on mindfulness in our previous blog Anxiety: Why me? 

Tip 4: Talk to Someone

Women are more likely to seek advice from others, but men often find it hard to share or talk about their emotions. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’?

Stress can really cloud your judgement and prevent you from making clear decisions. Telling someone how you feel, a partner, a friend, a trusted colleague or even a professional is so important. It’s the first step to getting the support and help that you may not even realise you need. Being vulnerable takes courage but it also takes patience. Stress is a serious problem if left untreated, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

For more information on mental health, have a read of our mental health page.

Tip 5: Organise

When you feel that your life is being taken over by chaos and stress, have a think, do you have a cluttered house; are your thoughts scattered everywhere? Chaos can take over many aspects of our life when there are too many pressures for us to face. Having a pleasant and tranquil home environment is essential for calm and rejuvenation. Decluttering queen Marie Kondo explains how, by getting rid of possessions which don’t ‘spark joy’, we can benefit in a number of ways. Her light-hearted book ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ is well worth a read.

Writing lists can also be a good way of decluttering your thoughts. Breaking down your day and writing things down can help with prioritising and setting goals for the day. Be careful to not overdo it though, realistic goals are important, as otherwise you may end up feeling more stressed that you haven’t achieved what you originally set out to do.

Tip 6: Learn to say ‘No’

A common cause of stress is being overly busy. Feeling that we are spreading ourselves too thin. We need to learn our limits.  Delegating, asking for help and just saying ‘No’ are all effective strategies to hep reduce stress. This is not selfish – it is an important part of self-care and well-being.

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