Stress seems to be more common than the common cold (and that even has common its name!) these days, but simply ensuring that you are aware that you have become stressed is the first step towards beating it.
Spot the Symptoms. Stress can manifest itself differently for different people so find out how it surfaces in your body just so you know when it’s time to relax! Does it make your heart race? Do you get clammy hands or a loss of appetite? Does anxiety show up through insomnia, poor concentration or poor decision making? Figuring out WHEN you are stressed will help you to figure out WHAT it is that is making you stressed, giving you the opportunity so you can at least attempt to eliminate it from your life.
Once you have identified the causes of stress in your life, try to prioritise or rank them. Write down all of the things that have made you stressed in a day, week or even month and rank them (perhaps say how stressful they were out of ten) putting the most stressful events at the top. Once you have a prioritised list: deal with it! Figure out how the biggest, stresses in your life could be reduced or eliminated.
Are you a public speaker who is afraid of the public? A surgeon who is afraid of blood? A Jockey who doesn’t like horses? Is there absolutely no way the source of stress can be eliminated? If eliminating the cause of stress is really impossible(though most of the time it is not) then your next best option is to find a suitable and healthy method of stress relief. Though many people opt for a cigarette, a fatty/ sugary snack, or even medication to relieve stress quickly but we should know that these are only temporary and are by no means long term (or at all productive) ways of relieving stress.
Natural solutions are often the best and there are many of them:
-Get some exercise: studies show that at least 10 minutes of fairly intense exercise to naturally release dopamine and serotonin into your blood flow which both induce a sense of wellbeing and happiness.
-Get a pet! People who own a pet are less stressed than their pet-less counterparts (studies have proven), this has been attributed to the therapeutic effects of stroking fur as well as simple companionship.
-Meditate: almost close your eyes (letting in enough light that you don’t fall totally asleep, breath in through your nose slowly and deeply for 5 seconds, hold it for 5 seconds and then exhale through your mouth over another 5 second period, continue this for a minute or two and you will find yourself calmer (because your heart beat has slowed down) and able to think more clearly (because the adrenaline that is released during stress is no longer being pumped throughout your body at such a high rate and more oxygen is travelling to your brain than your muscles- unlike in your previous ‘flight or fight’ physical state)
-Be creative! Many people have attributed the brain to being like a muscle, well here’s another example of this, just like a pair of muscles: activating one side of the brain, forces the other, or ‘opposing’ side to relax. And whether it’s entering data onto a spreadsheet or working how much to pay for your portion of the bill most people use the left side (the logical/ analytical part) of their brain most of the time. So using the right side more will help you to unwind. You can activate your right side be being creative, trying taking up a creative hobby, draw, paint take photographs, write stories or poems, engage in arts and crafts.
-Take regular breaks. Most people work at least 8 hours a day sat down, staring at a screen of some kind- if we don’t have good posture and also stand up and walk about regularly then our backs and eyes, and even our concentration can suffer tremendously.
-And of course the biggest break you could have from your desk is leaving the country! Taking a holiday is possibly the ultimate form of escape and it can help you forget about what has been stressing you out in your life. But remember, if you do travel to relieve stress: it is only a temporary escape, the underlying issues that have been causing you stress won’t go away- though separating yourself from them for a period may help you rest and recover from them and give you a fresh perspective of how you might go about dealing with them. Make sure you don’t get stressed out while on holiday and remember to get travel insurance and plan ahead too!