According to a recent survey, coping with stress can seem like a constant uphill battle, with three out of four UK adults feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope.
While not all stress is bad, and acute short-term stress may even benefit productivity, chronic long-term stress can be a real problem, negatively impacting our behaviour, relationships, and health.
April marks National Stress Awareness Month, and to coincide with this, Dr Rachael Molitor, psychologist and lecturer at Coventry University, has put together her seven top tips for stress management.
Dr Molitor said: ‘From minor hiccups to major challenges, stress is inevitably a part of life, and although we cannot always control the circumstances by which stress can occur, we can control how you respond to them, to calm your mind and body.’
‘To combat our stress, we all need to set time aside to unwind and manage our health and well-being. Learning how to recognise and manage stress throughout our daily lives takes practice, but it is vital to understand and be aware of stressors and how to deal with them.’
Here are top tips – remember to BREATHE:
Balance work and home
Losing valuable social and emotional time with friends and family by taking on too much work or commitment increases stress. Keep dedicated time for enjoyable activities, and use that time for hobbies instead of work.
Reframing your thoughts
Reframing changes your outlook on a given situation, altering your experience and how you feel about it. By thinking positively where you can and finding the positives in the situation, you can help to reframe the pint glass from half empty to half full.
Engage with others
A problem shared is a problem halved – talk to someone about your worries or concerns. Even saying them aloud can help you evaluate your feelings and rationalise your thoughts.
Acknowledge your stressors
Although we cannot remove all stressors from our lives, we can acknowledge the ones taking too much processing time and use strategies that engage in problem- and emotion-focused coping.
Problem-focused coping strategies involve taking active efforts and practical steps to tackle an issue or situation, such as working on time management or asking for more support. Emotion-focused coping strategies can include distraction,cognitive reappraisal and mindfulness.
Consolidating your tasks into one list can help calm the panic, enabling you to prioritise tasks that need to be completed.
Lack of sleep, a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition can lead to stress. Adding exercise to your daily routine, even just a little, can increase mental alertness, energy and positive mood. Nutrition is also vital for our stress and how we cope with stressors.
Engage in gratitude
Focus on the things you have to be thankful for, and it’ll make you feel better. Try writing down three things you have done in your day that you are proud of, making you happy or thankful for. Keep these with you when you are feeling stressed or anxious.