As a Life Coach and as a Business Coach I’m often asked by clients how they can cope with stress. Stress is an inevitable part of life, it’s there for a reason and it isn’t something that we should aim to eradicate completely. What we can do though is change or improve the way we respond and react to stress.
We all react to stress in different ways. It can lead to or worsen serious health problems. We can end up unable to function and both work and home life suffer. Stress can also weaken our immune system and make us more susceptible to illness.
Chronic stress may also impact high blood pressure, autoimmune illnesses, digestive issues, depression and anxiety. So, it’s important that we’re able to manage our stress levels in a way that prevents negative stress levels.
Here are some ideas that can help:
Know the warning signs
We all vary in how we react to stress and what form our symptoms will take. The symptoms can be physical, emotional, mental and behavioural. You may begin to notice memory problems, trouble concentrating, racing thoughts, irritability, anger, sadness, headaches, frequent colds and changes in sleep or appetite.
Know your stress triggers.
These will vary from person to person and may indeed vary from situation to situation, however you will be able to notice the patterns. There may be certain people, places or situations that produce high levels of stress for you. Think about what causes you stress: is it public speaking or presentations; perhaps being around a certain person; meetings at work; certain social situations. This is the first step in being able to change how we manage stress.
When we take a mindfulness approach to our lives we are able to be more aware of what is happening in us and around us. We are more present and consequently are then able to decide how we respond. Stress often takes hold when we aren’t fully aware of what’s happening; try noticing when the stress starts for each trigger. Is it as you walk up to the front of the room to give a presentation or is it the week before? Being present gives us that breathing space in which we can take control
All forms of exercise reduce stress hormones, flood the body with feel-good endorphins, improve mood, boost energy and provide a healthy distraction from your dilemmas. Plus, exercise may make you less susceptible to stress in the long run. Find physical activities that you enjoy and try to devote about 30 minutes to them each day. The main point here is ‘that you enjoy’, if this becomes a chore and it isn’t what you enjoy then it could easily add to the stress.
Sounds easy doesn’t it? When you’re faced with a stressful situation that your mind perceives as a threat, it sends various chemicals, like adrenaline and cortisol, throughout your body. As a result, heart rate and breathing speeds up and your digestion slows down. This tires out the body. Mindful meditation, focusing on the breath can be extremely useful in helping you to relax. The more you practice it the easier and more effective it becomes.
Manage your time
Time can seem like a luxury in our lives these days, yet there are various ways to manage it effectively. First, focus on one task at a time. Multitasking rarely works and it has been shown to increase stress levels, reduce accuracy and focus and actually end up taking longer! Take a couple of minutes at the start of the day or the night before to jot down your plan and tasks for the day. Break big tasks down into manageable chunks and allow yourself time between each task to reset!
Now, if you’re anything like me then you want to run at stuff and get it all done and excitement can take over. Before you know it, you’ve bitten off more than you can chew and have stressed yourself out. Practice saying no, or not right now.
Curb your caffeine.
Yup. This is the tough one! Caffeine might help you in the short term, but it interrupts sleep and makes you more anxious, tense and jittery. Of course this just drives up your stress level. I notice a difference if I only have one coffee in the morning and make sure anything else is decaffeinated throughout the day. When you think that a strong coffee or fizzy caffeinated drink is what you need to wake yourself up, try some cold water and a bit of fresh air. It will certainly encourage more oxygen to the brain which will wake you up better.
If you feel like you can’t handle the stress on your own, ask for help. Dealing with this on our own can be very difficult, so please reach out for support.
If you would like to discuss any of these issues further or would like expert support on dealing with stress in your life, please contact me on 07875748879 or Contact Lou
I offer a free consultation to help you understand what help and support I can offer.
If you have enjoyed this blog, found it useful or would like to share your own ideas, please leave your comments below.