Exams may be long gone, the summer is here (when will the weather realise that!?), but there are still plenty things out there to pile on the stress.
Obviously, you don’t want that hassle…Bust that stress with these 15 tips:
- Give a big hug to the here and now – Don’t lose sleep over past events. They’ve happened, so look to the present and making the most of now. It’s not even worth worrying about the future too much, since we can’t predict how things will be. Sure, we can prepare for particular situations, but you know you’re preparing too much when it becomes obsessive and/or time-consuming.
- Understand the causes of your stress – If you don’t have a reference point to combat your problems, there’s no way of knowing what’s making you feel this way. Look to what’s really stressing you out and untangle it from the less pressing issues.
- Say ‘no’ to negativity – Problems easily get us down. It’s simple to stress about something rather than directly deal with it. But all the negativity makes you feel worse and worse and worse and worse and…you get the picture. Focus on what’s going right for you and what can advance you further.
- Move away from the situation entirely – You may not have this luxury, but if you have the chance, get out of the fire and find a source of relaxation. Even if it’s just an hour or so, the change of scene helps. In an ever-connected world, it’s easy to forget that the brain needs a time to switch off and recharge.
- Be accountable to yourself and set your goals wisely – Do you answer ‘yes’ to every task you’re asked to do? Are you forever catching up with work that didn’t emanate from you personally? If so, it may help if you refocus on your own planning devices, rather than the clutter of voices that seemingly never stop telling you what to do.
- Commit to fewer goals to achieve more – You may have a million different interests, but what’s the point in having them if they all vie for your time in overwhelming fashion? You’ll end up doing nothing at all! Instead, deal with interests or jobs one at a time. Multi-tasking many big projects doesn’t suit the brain particularly well.
- Ask yourself how important this really is – Maybe the stress will melt away if you genuinely pose the question of importance. Is the amount of stress emitted truly equal to what’s expected in the end product? Without noticing, we often overvalue our concern, which gets us worrying over trivial matters.
- Is the problem out of your hands? – If you’re stressing over something that you can’t make a difference over anyway, you’re wasting your time over it. You may not be happy, but if you can’t make a change, it’s time to adapt and deal with it, or to move away from the situation entirely. And in order to make sure that the stress is not deserved, consider one final time if there is any creative way to move that mountain and make a difference anyway. If not, take a swipe to that stress. You’re not giving up, you’re simply guiding your time toward matters in your control.
- Deep breath in through the nose, deep breath out through the mouth – When you need an urgent dose of relaxation, have a five minute breather…literally. Slowly take a deep breath through the nose, let it zoom around your system, then calmly expel it through your mouth. Do this a few times and your body will thank you.
- Sing a song – What’s your favourite song? I hope it’s a belter, or at least an easy singalong. Find a private place and have a good sing to yourself. My favourite song is American Pie by Don McLean. And all because my Dad played it in the car on long journeys when I was a kid.
- Go for a run – I don’t do this one very often, but once or twice I’ve felt a bit het up about certain situations, so I’d run around the block a few times. Considering I live on a steep hill, it’s quite a tiring run, but it helps get rid of bad feeling and it also eliminates excessive adrenalin (which can also cause stressful thoughts).
- Break things down – Lots of little problems can feel huge if you lump them all together. Take stock of these small problems and focus on how many of them you could easily knock on the head. Alternatively, if you recognise an underlying issue at the heart of everything, make sure to concentrate on quashing that problem rather than any other annoyances (see Tip 2). You may find the other issues disappear once you’ve handled the main problem.
- Get away from it all – Go back to your family home, or spend a few days somewhere relaxing. While it doesn’t always work (and might just mask the problems), a break can sometimes clear the air and give you a new sense of purpose and direction.
- Smile and give thanks – When you’re stressed, it’s not easy to smile. If you can’t force that smile out, try calling a good friend and catch up for a bit, or settle down to a DVD of your favourite comedy series. And if that doesn’t help, be sure to be thankful for all the good things that are happening in your life right now. There are positive aspects to your life, even when everything feels like it’s crumbling beneath your feet. You may have to search around before you stop convincing yourself that the world is about to end, but once you begin to see the goodness coming through, it gets a whole lot easier!
- Check your own health – Stress doesn’t necessarily emanate from what’s happening externally. You may be feeling the pressure from your own body. It could be diet, excessive alcohol, popping too many pills, caffeine overdose, lack of exercise, disturbed sleep pattern, and all sorts of things. If you feel perfectly happy, yet still find life stressful, give your body a little TLC and see where it takes you. And if things get too bad, do consult a doctor.
I wish everyone a happy and stress-free summer…and beyond!