What Is In Your Stress Toolbox?
We all suffer from stress different ways which means that there is no “one size fit’s all” solution to managing it. By developing your own STRESS TOOLBOX you can focus on ways or reducing stress and the tools to bring calm.
Here are a few helpful tools which you might like to add to your STRESS TOOLBOX:
1. The Chisel – avoid stress
I know that saying ‘avoid stress’ seems to be stating the obvious, and it is not possible to avoid all stress in our lives but putting off stressful tasks can amplify their negative effects. You can eliminate a lot of stress from your life though: through developing habits which help you avoid stress.
- Say “no” more often – Knowing what is possible for you, and sticking to your guns, means you will be able to limit the damaging effects of stress which is unavoidable. This may be a difficult habit to establish at first but when you consider that you will be more effective at work and more relaxed at home when you limit what you take on, it will not take long for you to realise the benefits.
- Avoid people who cause you to be stressed – There are three types of people in your life: people who wish you well; people who want things to remain as they are; and people who wish you harm. Spend as much time as possible with people who wish you well and avoid the other two types.
- Avoid arguments – It is easy to develop a habit of ‘always arguing over the same old things’ with friends or family. It takes two to argue, so take the initiative and avoid topics you know will cause trouble. If someone else brings one up, choose to opt out of the conversation.
- Make positive changes in your routine – Introduce some relaxation into your day. The news and many TV programmes can make one feel anxious or low. Choose viewing carefully, our time is precious. If your commute is unpleasant, take a longer but less-travelled route. If your day always starts with a rush, and a hurrying of self or family members, start the day a little earlier and prepare fully the night before.
- Go for a walk – Walking is a very effective way to lower stress levels. If you cannot fit a walk in every day, try a couple of times a week and a weekend walk. If possible get out into the countryside or local park. Re-connecting with the natural environment is immensely beneficial to ones mental health and the exercise will do your body the world of good.
2. The Clamp – take control of the situation
When stress is unavoidable, take control of how you react. Don’t wait for stress symptoms to manifest
themselves, go on a self-preservation offensive.
- Express your feelings more freely – Good communication is an effective way to reduce stress. Voice your concerns in an open and respectful way. Take time to consider responses to requests (consulting a diary or jobs list is a useful delay tactic) and think about what you can manage.
- Be willing to compromise – When relationships become stressful and things need to change, take the opportunity to change your behaviour as well as asking the other person to change theirs. This approach will bear fruit professionally as well as socially.
- Be assertive – Take responsibility for your own life. It is very empowering when you find the strength to deal with daily difficulties through saying what you need or what you can manage to give to others. If you feel bullied or pressured by someone, find a way to enlist the help of others.
- Manage your time better – Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. Plan ahead and remember not to take on too much. Home and work need to be in balance. If you are stretched in one area, ask for help in the other.
3. The Wrench – adapt to stressors
If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of autonomy by changing your expectations and attitude.
- Stay calm – If you find yourself late because of slow traffic, or a huge queue in the supermarket, or someone is late with information you need to get on at work: catch yourself and don’t allow your frustration to get the better of you. Take the extra time this has given you to think about something positive.
- Get things in perspective – Stressful situations can sometimes overwhelm us. Ask yourself how important what is happening will be in the long run. This is one area where getting out into green spaces can be particularly beneficial. Putting things in a wider context can help us evaluate how much energy we should be giving to them.
- Lower your standards – A common cause of stress is our thwarted expectations. Allow yourself to make mistakes and forgive other who do not meet standard which you have put in place for them. Get out of the habit of judging other people and it will be much easier to stop judging yourself. Loving ourselves helps us to love others.
- Cultivate gratefulness – Take time each day to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life. Make sure you include all the things you are grateful for in yourself.
4. The Hammer – accept the inevitable
When stress is unavoidable, learn to accept it. The death of a loved one, or a serious illness are the types of stressful events which cannot be avoided. Accepting them and finding support, rather than burying ones feelings, can alleviate the symptoms.
- We cannot control every situation – Many things in life are beyond our control. Staying focussed on the way we choose to react to problems is a means of managing the damaging effects of stress at these times.
- Look for the silver lining – When you are facing major challenges, look for opportunities for personal growth. This might take the form of extending kindness to others affected by similar events. Extending kindness to other can help us accept kindness when it is offered to us.
- Share your feelings – Talk to a trusted friend face to face or access a talking therapy or support group. The simple act of expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation. Sometimes it is hard to face our own feelings around events in our lives (especially if our feelings are not charitable). Discussing our feelings can help us work through them.
- Cultivate forgiveness – Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.
5. The Socket Set – relax and have fun
Making time for oneself, relaxing and having fun are essential to good health. It is very important to care for yourself, especially if you care for others. We can only be our best selves by giving ourselves the room to grow.
Walking and spending time in nature is soothing and grounding.At Vita Wellbeing we concentrate on ways to include easily established habits which will help to alleviate stress:
- Talking with a good friend or with a therapist can help bring a fresh perspective to what we are experiencing.
- Keeping a diary or logbook is another way of expressing oneself. Write down thoughts and include mementos of good days.
- Make bath time a super relaxing experience by including candles and essential oils. Take time to enjoy it and be mindful of every sensation.
- Curling up with a warm drink and a good book can help to focus our attention away from what has been worrying or causing stress.
- Undertaking chores which are pleasurable, such as gardening or cooking, is another way to add an element of relaxation to the day.
- Treating oneself to a trip to a spa; to a massage; or a wellbeing workshop, is a great way to give us the boost we may need to get things on the right track, or reward personal progress.
- Appreciate a lovely meal with friends. At home or out on the town, breaking bread with loved ones is a pleasurable and relaxing experience.
- Listening to music, especially live music, uses a different part of the brain and helps to ‘re-circuit’ us for relaxation and pleasure.
- Practicing mindfulness helps us to relax and appreciate our experiences more fully. It helps us to stay calm and notice what is causing us stress, if the source is not obvious.
Build your personal STRESS TOOLBOX from the tips above and add in your own tools by focussing on your needs.
Give yourself a boost into forming new habits by joining a Vita Wellbeing consultation, workshop or weekend.