Stress goes hand in hand with many careers – and juggling work, kids and everything in between. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work at reducing it.
Here are ten ways to minimise stress and maximise resilience, compiled by a panel of trusted doctors at It’sMyHealth.
- Exercise. Get moving. Exercise releases endorphins which not only helps reduce anxiety and stress but also improves your mood. Any form of exercise will help from yoga to squash. Incorporate into your daily schedule and you’ll start to notice the difference straight away.
- Sleep. It’s a vicious cycle: the more stressed you are the less well you sleep and the less sleep you get the more stressed you feel. Pay attention to a proper sleep routine. Have a quiet wind down period before bedtime. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and comfortable. Get up at the same time every morning. If stress is keeping you awake, don’t lie in bed worrying. Get up, read for awhile or watch some TV until you’re sleepy then go back to bed and try to sleep again.
- Avoid caffeine. While you might feel you need the boost to keep you going, caffeine increases your heart rate which can be perceived as increased anxiety – just what you don’t need if stressed. It will also interfere with your sleep and can give you a nasty withdrawal headache. It’s best to stick with water if you can.
- Make lists. People who are experiencing stress often describe feeling overwhelmed with the number of tasks or responsibilities they have to get through. Making a list will often help put some order into that ‘to do’ pile, and will also allow you to prioritise and help lessen the anxiety that something will be forgotten amongst all the chaos.
- Clean desk. It is amazing. You can be facing the demise of a major project, juggling an office full of discontented GenY-ers, or have to read through background documents with a word count equivalent to War and Peace but if you can keep that square metre around your computer screen clean and tidy you will feel as though you are in control. It’s only a perception but then again stress is a perception.
- Sunshine. Vitamin D is not only good for your bones and your immune system but it has also been linked to your mental health. Lack of sunshine can result in Seasonal Affective Disorder, classically a depression that occurs in winter. Take 10 minutes in the sun and you’ll find your stress levels lessen.
- Get a pet. It’s a proven scientific fact pets reduce stress and protect against the common by-product of stress – depression. There’s something about their unconditional love that helps put everything in perspective.
- Outsource. This single objective can mean the difference between coping and not coping. Check out your to-do list – what can you outsource that will help streamline your life – the ironing, the cleaning, catering for a dinner party? Nobody gives you a medal for doing everything yourself.
- Eat well. It is all too easy, when you’re over-busy to grab something quick, easy and filling. We also tend to reach for comfort foods in times of stress – hot chips, chocolate muffins, pizza. Such foods not only expand the waistline and clog the arteries they also dull the brain. If you are going to cope you need to keep your mind and body well-fuelled – lots of fruit, vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Snack on nuts and dried fruit and drink lots of water.
- Chocolate. This is not a scientifically proven fact or even theoretically likely but our consensus of opinion is that it works for us and we thought that needed to be shared!