DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF SLEEP
A lack of sleep can be a significant cause of stress. Being kept awake with constant thoughts going through your mind about all the things you need to do is something you probably know too well. Instead of relying on sleeping medication, your aim should be to optimise your sleeping environment and bedtime routine to increase your relaxation. It is best to avoid caffeine during the evening, as well as excessive alcohol as these can lead to disturbed sleep. Avoid doing any mentally demanding work too close to bedtime so that you give your brain time to wind down.
DON’T FOCUS ON THINGS YOU CAN’T CONTROL
Unfortunately, some sources of stress are completely unavoidable. We can’t prevent the emotional stress caused by the death of a loved one, or the physical stress caused by a serious illness. In these cases, the best way to cope with stress is to just accept things as they are and know that things will get better. Acceptance may be difficult at first, but it will be a lot easier than trying to combat a situation you can’t change. Many things in life are beyond our control—especially the actions and behaviour of other people. Instead of allowing your stress response to take hold, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems. Look for the positive in every situation when facing major challenges, try to see them as opportunities for personal development. If a stressful situation is attributed to your own choices, reflect on why this happened, and learn from your mistakes.
LEARN TO SAY NO
One of the biggest causes of stress is having too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. On top of this, many people will agree to take on additional responsibility, causing MORE stress! Learning to say “no” to additional tasks will help to reduce your stress level, and can also help you develop more self-confidence. Many people find it difficult to say “no” because they want to help and are trying to be nice or polite. Others fear conflict, being rejected, or missed opportunities. These barriers to saying “no” are all created by you. You may feel reluctant to respond with a definite “no” at first but by practicing some pre-prepared phrases to let people down more gently, you will become more confident!
MOVE YOUR BODY EVERY DAY
Stressful situations increase the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in your body. Physical activity plays a major role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress, and you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to reap the benefits. Just about any form of physical activity can assist in relieving stress and reducing feelings of anger, tension, and frustration. Exercise releases endorphins that elevate your mood and make you feel good. Not to mention it can also be a great distraction to your daily concerns. While it is recommended that you exercise for at least 30 minutes a day to gain the most benefit, you can build up your fitness level gradually. Remember that even small activities can add up over the course of a day. The most important thing is to get yourself up and moving!
FOCUS ON A BALANCED DIET
Be mindful of what you eat. Eat a healthy diet comprised of at least 80% whole, nutritious foods, and 20% more processed calorie-dense foods. If our bodies are well-nourished, it can allow us to be better prepared to cope with stresses. Start your day with a balanced breakfast to keep your energy high and try to continue this with nutritious meals throughout the day.