Often when you feel stressed, it’s easy to give into feelings of despair and helplessness. By doing this you immediately allow it to take control and defeat you – when really it is you who has the ability to control the way in which stress can affect you.
When it comes to dealing with stress we have put together a list of Do’s and Don’ts that we find can make all the difference.
Do try and figure out where your stress is coming from. Is it work? Health issues? A toxic relationship? By taking the time to pinpoint the stressors in your life, you are one step closer to taking action and eliminating (or managing) them.
Do focus on the good things, not the bad things. Positive self talk is a great way to help you relieve stress and deal with situations that cause it. With practice you can learn to turn negative thoughts into positive ones, here are a few examples… Instead of saying “I can’t do this” tell yourself “I’m going to do the best that I can”. Instead of “I give up, everything is going wrong” think “I can handle things if I take them one step at a time”. Lastly, and what’s most commonly thought “I hate it when this happens!” can be turned around to “I know how to deal with this, I’ve done it before and I can do it again”.
Do learn to say no. Given we can’t say no to everything – like a task at work you just don’t want to do – there are things we can say no to. Whether it’s an activity you don’t enjoy, a catch up with a friend who you have outgrown – if it doesn’t make you feel good then it’s not adding value to your life. A few seconds of discomfort are worth avoiding the stress of saying yes to doing something you don’t want to do.
Do engage in physical activity. Stressful situations increase the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol into your body, exercise can help metabolise excessive stress hormones and restore your body and mind back to a much calmer and relaxed state. Whether it’s a boxing session after work, or a quick walk around the block on your lunch break – every bit counts!
Do talk to someone. Whether it’s a family member, a friend or a co-worker – talking can help by either distracting you from stressful thoughts or by releasing the tension that has built up as a result of them. Getting outside of your own thoughts by sharing them with someone can also help put them into perspective.
Don’t spend all your time venting. Venting is essential and is a great way to release frustration – but know that if you spend all your time talking about negative things, you’ll be thinking about negative things and they will only just weigh you down. So talk, rant, scream, discuss and then move onto solving the problem!
Photo by The Coveteur
Don’t try and do everything on your own. It’s time to drop the ‘if you want something done right you have to do it yourself’ mentality. This only leads to you overextending yourself with tasks that you could delegate to others who are more than willing to give you a hand. It’s like they say – a problem shared is a problem halved. If you’re willing to share your task with others you are able to break down your stress associated with it.
Don’t lose sleep over what you can’t control. Trying to take control over something that is uncontrollable can just create more stress and leave you feeling helpless. Accept what you cannot change and let go of it.
Don’t mistake worrying for action. In his book ‘The worry trap: How to free yourself from worry and anxiety’ clinical psychologist Chad LeJeune explains the difference as ‘worrying is an attempt to exert control over the future by thinking about it, whereas caring is taking action’. Using houseplants as an example of this theory he explains “You could go away for a week and worry about your house plants every day, and yet no matter how much you worry about them you will still come home to find them brown and wilted. Worrying is not watering.”
We leave you with one final Do… Do remember to take time out of each day to do something that makes you happy. Write a list of 5 things that make you smile, or make you feel good – and every day set aside time to do one of them. Whether it’s to read, to watch your favourite TV show, to listen to music and dance, to call a friend who always makes you laugh, whatever it is – do it!