Tips for beating stress
1. Recognise the signs of stress
The classic definition of stress is any stimulus which creates an imbalance in your internal state. Most common triggers can be:
- Lifestyle: work, travel, time pressures
- Emotional: divorce, bereavement
- Environmental: noise, toxins, heat, trauma
- Health: illness, lack of exercise, poor diet
2. Know the physical impact of stress
Stress kicks off the adrenal gland to produce adrenalin, creating the ‘fight or flight’ state of being pumped up. However, if the energy, availability for action and protection of the adrenalin is not directed into purposeful or productive activity, then the adrenalin washes round our body, with uncomfortable results. Raised adrenalin and cortisol in the body are linked longer term with increased risk of serious illness such as heart disease, strokes, diabetes.
3. Know your tipping point
For many people, their performance increases as stress begins to rise. But there comes a point where more stress brings a decrease in productivity. So it’s vital for you to work out where your stress tipping point is, so that you can manage your stress level at around this point.
4. Monitor your stress level
To combat stress, get into the habit of rating how you’re feeling and rating your stress level each day on a scale of 1 to 10. If your personal stress rating gets too high – then you know some different thoughts or actions are required.
5. Emotional impact of stress
One of the biggest effects of stress is a drop in mental well-being and a decrease in the ability to think clearly. If we are frightened or anxious, our brains are less able to process rationally and we are less able to recognise our emotions. A sense of being unable to cope, being irritable and over-defensive – all these feelings, and others, tend to be present when we’re stressed. Practise checking-in with yourself to see how you are feeling. The more you can identify a list of emotions (frustrated, scared, angry, mistrustful, overwhelmed), the better you will be able to support yourself in tackling stress.
6. Seek support
There are many ways to combat stress, so it’s worth finding those methods that work for you. Books and websites contain loads of information and ideas that you can experiment with. Alternatively, many coaches and counsellors offer support for stress-management: they can give you tools or techniques, while working through your experiences of stress.
7. You do have choices
Many people suffering from stress feel hopeless in relation to the demands of their job or family or financial pressures, for instance. But if you recognise that you do have choices (including the skill of saying ‘no’ or telling others that you are feeling stressed), then you are in a stronger position to manage your stress level and make supportive choices – even if there are consequences that you or those around you will need to deal with.
8. Keep it in proportion
Challenging the expectations of ‘I should’ or ‘I must’ can help you realise when you are working to unrealistic expectations of yourself. Realise that you are human and that perfection is impossible. If you can keep expectations in proportion and think through the reality of choosing not to follow the harsh instructions of ‘should’ and ‘must’ and ‘ought’, then you can be kinder and more humane to yourself and others.
9. Tune into your power
When you’re stressed, it’s easy to feel powerless. Yet if you tune into the power of what your inner voice tells you, trust your instincts, stick to your true values – then you will feel more empowered. It may take courage to follow your inner power, yet this is probably much healthier in the long run.
10. Be open-minded
Stress can come from feeling you’ve ‘got to’ deliver on a deadline or continue along a certain path. Although if you are open-minded about alternative options or ways of doing things, then you can increase your range of possibilities. Take a moment to consider radical solutions, just in case there’s a great stress-busting idea bubbling within you. Stress can be created by suppressing our true nature!