Five tips to improve your stressmanagement strategies
Everyday stress often sneaks up on us when we least expect it and becomes part of our normal life. But unfortunately, too much pressure over a long period of time can lead to serious consequences for your quality of life.
Negative stress can change the way you think, feel and behave. It can lead to symptoms such as sleep issues, loss of appetite, anxiety, irritability, difficulty focusing, suppressed immune system that can cause diseases, lower work performance or poorer relationships. It is common that one begin to withdraw socially, increase one's intake of alcohol, sugar or other addictive substances. You can often become disillusioned at work, have reduced motivation, and problems with memory, which in turn can lead to making more mistakes at work.
If you know what triggers your personal stress levels, you also increase the possibility of being able to prevent or manage stress more effectively. Identify your triggers; is it work-related things, study pressure, life changes such as divorce, job loss, move, new baby, death of a loved one, or having way too much to do.
Below are some tips on how you can possibly increase your techniques in handling stressors and thereby enhance your quality of life.
1) Lower your demands
Both on yourself and your surroundings. Often we chase after a "perfect" life, striving for rewarding relationships, developing work, beautiful homes and fun friends. Reality often looks more nuanced, which can cause deep seated feelings of disappointment. You win in the long run by appreciating more of what you have and lowering the bar. Examine whether you are using negative thought patterns that contribute to increased anxiety and challenge them.
2) Create pockets of time for yourself
It is difficult to deal with stress if you are constantly in a low energy state. Try to create a morning routine that energises you, take small breaks during the day and adopt a calming evening ritual that improves your sleep quality. Explore and practise regular relaxation that you feel comfortable with. It can be a long shower, eating breakfast outside, stretching, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, controlled breathing, reading a book, listening to uplifting podcasts or walking the last bit to work.
"If you do not get enough recovery, you run the risk of suffering from persistent fatigue, which in the long run can lead to exhaustion" - The Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University
3) Small steps go a long way
Most of the time you instinctively know what you should do to feel better; move more, eat healthy, spend more time with family and friends, etcetera. Unfortunately, these often gets put on the back burner when you feel overwhelmed. Maybe you could schedule time in your calendar for this in your week? Remind yourself that it is more sustainable to change small things in your everyday life, than to attempt a complete turnaround.
4) Learn to say no
It can feel difficult to refuse extra tasks, late job meetings or invitations. Identify what values are most important to you and create rules and principles that guarantee that these areas are fully met. Practice communicating these boundaries to others in an assertive manner.
5) Problem Solving Techniques
Are practical and effective tools for managing stress. Some things you can't control, but maybe aspects of the dilemma is workable. Identify and clarify the actual problem/s, engage in brainstorming, weigh pros and cons of each proposal to reach a suitable solution that you can start working with.
Seeking support is a step in the right direction
These five tips to improve your stressmanagement strategies can help in managing milder experiences of stress. Please contact me for a 10 minute free consultation or seek other professional support from health professionals if you are experiencing signs of burnout, burnout syndrome or other mental illness.