Managing Stress

Stress is a funny old thing. In small doses it can often be a good motivator to get the job done right. Whether it’s slamming on the breaks before an inevitable accident or giving you the strength to defend yourself, stress is our body’s way of protecting us from harm. However, chronic stress, when you start to find yourself overwhelmed and anxious more often than not, can have devastating affects on your immune system, digestive system and reproductive system. Our nervous systems aren’t able to distinguish between physical and emotional stress. Thus if you are worrying about pressures at work, deadlines at school, bills, or the latest family argument, your body will react as if it is in real physical danger. The more frequently this emergency system is activated, the easier it becomes to stimulate, and it becomes much harder for us to switch off our fight or flight response.

There are many symptoms that indicate our body is overloaded with stress:

Cognitive/Mental Symptoms
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Negative mindset
  • Poor judgement or difficulty making decisions
  • Memory problems
  • Constant worrying
  • Anxious thoughts
Emotional Symptoms
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Unhappiness
  • Moodiness, irritability, anger or agitation
  • Loneliness or isolation
  • Lacking self-confidence
Physical Symptoms
  • Frequent colds, flu or cough
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Chest pain
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension, aches or pains
  • Dip in sex drive
  • Headaches or dizziness
  • Fatigue
Behavioural Symptoms
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Isolating yourself from people
  • Using alcohol, drugs or cigarettes
  • Developing nervous habits (nail biting, pacing etc)
  • Lack of motivation, procrastinating, or avoiding activities

Unfortunately no-one has yet discovered the magic potion for preventing stress, however there are many things you can do to manage stress, or to counteract it. From mindfulness to budgeting tips, the internet is an amalgamation of stress busters. Below I have listed some long-term ideas to help you manage chronic stress, as well as short-term techniques you can adopt to help in day-to-day life.

Long-Term Techniques
  • Mindfulness/meditation
  • Yoga
  • Therapy or counselling
  • Create a safe space at work and home
  • Enforce a sleep routine
  • Find a hobby (gardening, scrapbooking, cooking…)
  • Take some time off
  • Keep a ‘stress’ diary or journal
  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine and drugs
  • Create a budget to help with financial worries
Short Term Techniques
  • Listen to music
  • Exercise
  • Positivity – wake up and smile in the mirror
  • Eat healthily
  • Have some ‘me’ time
  • Take action – is there anything you can do to change what’s causing you stress?
  • Spend time with friends and family
  • Accept what you cannot change and work around it
  • Switch to decaf
  • Knitting
  • Bake a cake
  • Practice breathing exercises
  • Laugh
  • Tidy / clean
  • Treat yourself
  • Watch animal videos
  • Sing and dance
  • Smell something nice
  • Cuddle your pet, partner or friend
  • Have a bath
  • Go for a walk
  • Try herbal teas
  • Get a massage
  • Have a piece of dark chocolate (70% +)
  • Try some stress relieving apps
  • Have a technology time-out
  • Help another person
  • Write/draw/paint/sketch
  • Read
  • Light a candle
  • Watch a feel-good movie
  • Talk to someone / ask for help
  • Do a facial steam
  • Cuddle a hot water bottle or heated bean bag
  • Learn to say no
  • Make a life plan

Stress finds all of us at some point in our lives, so it’s time to employ some stress busting techniques and try to focus on being a happier and more positive you.

If you have any ideas to help combat stress then pop them in the comments below.

Happy Living


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