Below are 10 tips to help manage your everyday stress:
- Recognise signs of stress
Signs of stress vary from person to person but recognising your own personal signs can help you take positive steps. Signs of stress might include tensing your jaw, grinding your teeth, getting headaches, having problems sleeping, or feeling irritable or short tempered.
- Identify causes of stress
It is easy to plough on, day after day, without taking a step back and identifying what is causing you stress. Identifying stressors is the first step to doing something about them.
- Use problem-solving
Sometimes the situation causing the stress can be changed, for example, by getting an extension on a work deadline or sharing the workload with a colleague. Problem-solving involves identifying the problem causing stress, writing down a list of solutions, working through the pros and cons of each, selecting the best one and trying it out, and evaluating its success.
- Change the way you talk to yourself
When we are stressed we sometimes say negative or self-defeating things to ourselves over and over. Unhelpful self-talk might include things like, “I can’t cope”, “I’m too busy to deal with all this”, or “I’ll never get this done”. Negative self-talk can make it more difficult to manage stress. Notice your self-talk and work on using helpful, soothing and calming self-talk, such as, “I am coping well given what I have on my plate”, “Relax, this stressful time will pass”, or “This is a stressful situation, but what is one thing I can do to help me get through this?”
- Keep things in perspective
When we are stressed, it is easy to see things as worse than they really are. Rather than imagining the worst-case scenario and then worrying about it, ask yourself:
Am I overestimating the likelihood of a negative outcome?
Am I overestimating how bad the consequences will be?
Am I underestimating my ability to cope?
- Rehearse tackling stressful situations
If there is a stressful event coming up, prepare for it. Work on developing the skills you need to tackle the situation as well as you can. Rehearse the situation before you have to perform on the actual day. This might include imagining yourself successfully handling the situation or setting up real-life rehearsals.
- Practise relaxation
Practising relaxation (such as autonomic relaxation, meditation or mindfulness) has been found to decrease stress. Meditation and relaxation techniques, if practised regularly, can help reduce stress levels by allowing the body and nervous system to settle and readjust to a calm state.
- Organise your time
Research suggests that good time management can decrease stress, increase work and life satisfaction, and improve health. Time management strategies include setting goals, prioritising and planning tasks, writing to-do lists, using a diary, setting reminders for jobs that need doing, delegating tasks that can be done by others and grouping similar jobs that can be done together.
- Create a better work-life balance
People sometimes become stressed when they devote too much time and energy to one aspect of their life, at the expense of other important areas. Think about how satisfied you are with different life areas (e.g., relationships, work, recreation, health, exercise) and whether you are devoting the amount of attention you would like to each. If not, think about how you could improve your work-life balance, making more time for some, and putting boundaries around others. Taking time to wind down and enjoy relaxing activities is an important part of a balanced life and helps to reduce stress. Include relaxing activities such as gardening or reading, or activities you find uplifting such as listening to music, walking or dancing, in your daily or weekly routine.
- Look after your health
Stress can affect your immune system and make you more vulnerable to a range of health problems. Keeping yourself fit and healthy by doing the following can increase your resilience to stress. Make sure you are eating healthy food and getting regular exercise and avoid using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to cope.