We’ve spent this month thinking about stress. So many of us are looking for stress relief, it’s an important component of our positive mental health. To date we’ve considered who’s stressed out and some basic things you should know, as well as asked whether our great expectations may be making us more stressed than necessary.
Today let’s look at stress management ideas for ordinary folks. By that I mean, us singles and parents and uni students and workers who’re keen to live well, and straddle multiple roles and responsibilities without necessarily having fame, fortune or gold medals round our necks. In a world of crazy, can we find or make our own stress relief? If so, how?
I think it’s more than possible, though it obviously takes some deliberation and effort. After all, the definition of foolishness is to constantly do the same thing whilst expecting a different outcome! If you are or have been recently too stressed it’s likely you’ll have to adapt at least some of your current practices. But, if you’re prepared to do that…
Here’s seven ways to wind back your stress:
1. Identify what’s stressing you
As a mental health coach I’m constantly surprised by how many people don’t want to do any thinking about their issues. Naming (or even better, writing down) the causes of your stress will help you start to see them as problems to be solved. Which is great, because you can solve problems! Vague, shadowy stressed feelings, on the other hand, have about as much chance of being beaten as a character you’re shadow boxing! Put your brain to work figuring out the causes of your stress, so you can work on your stress relief.
2. Ask for help if you need it
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, reaching out for help’s a really smart thing to do. We offer great training and support for the ‘crowd in the middle’ – people with some challenges with stress but who’re not about to drown in it. Those with big problems or long term stress loads we encourage to seek professional support. Start with your GP or one of these websites. It’ll be the beginning of your feeling better.
3. Do something to relax every day
Life keeps most of us busy, busy, busy. In amongst the doing and the achieving, make a point to stop. Just for a little bit. Do something you enjoy to help you relax every day. Maybe walk your dog. Listen to some music. Or read a chapter of a book. It doesn’t matter so much what it is nearly so much as it matters you do it. And you can change it up! Call an old friend today and take the kids to the park tomorrow.
The only proviso is to watch you don’t use your activity to hide from your problems. Ie, don’t get stuck distracting yourself from life for the rest of the night!
4. Move your body
Neither you nor I have bodies that were designed for sitting still. They’re made for action – despite how many hours we devote to being in front of screens. Get up and move your booty, baby. Not only will it help your weight management, it’ll also bring you some stress relief. Try for at least 30 minutes every day.
5. Create a stress management plan
You work on your physical fitness, so why not work on your mental fitness? Download our free PDF from this site to get started! It’ll walk you through the concept of a stress management plan and prod you to work out some of your own solutions. And then it’ll suggest ways to make sure you put them into action. As an added bonus, we’ll keep you in our mental health focus loop whatever our theme is until you decide you’re ready to move on.
6. Go to bed
Yes, to sleep! A lack of z’s was blamed by 44% of Aussies as a key contributor to being overly stressed in this report. It’s no wonder – sleep keeps you sane. If you’re struggling to get in the hours, we did a post on the hows and whys of a good night’s sleep recently.
7. Adjust your expectations downwards
Last week we raised the question of whether your possibly too high expectations of life are contributing to a stress overload. Adjust your goals by lengthening the time expected to reach them or even lowering them downwards a little. It may be just what you need to lessen your stress!
These ideas are simple enough for you to pick one of them and try this week. On top of these, putting your problems in perspective and/or connecting with real people who care about you will also bring you some tension relief. Which are you going to adopt?
Like more help?
If you’re struggling to get traction with this area of your life, our training site Head Set Go! has a couple of focused training options for you. One’s available online, and a couple are for anyone who happens to live in Brisbane and would prefer workshops to understand and handle their stress more healthily. You can also access a one on one coaching spot if you’d like to work on your stress problem solving alongside me. Head over there now and have a look.
We’re going to have stress in our lives, but feeling constantly stressed’s not only miserable, it’s likely to affect your health. It’s in your interests to find some stress relief and build your ability to mange stress within your life. We hope you do so. Remember, any step you take (no matter how little) can head you in a better direction. So go on and take one now!
Next week we’re taking a slightly different direction, reporting on what you’ve been saying about your stress story this past month. We’ll try to ensure all unanswered questions from surveys and comments are replied to as we sum up our month thinking about how to Un.Stress. Hope you come back then.
Have a good week.