How to manage stress effectively
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April is Stress Awareness Month and, whether it comes from work or home, coping with stress can sometimes seem daunting. However, there are several ways you can make sure you’re managing your stress levels in a healthy way.
Change your attitude and think positively. A key step in stress management is to try and change your attitude towards the source of stress. Positive thinking involves paying attention to the negative messages that you send yourself and turning them around to be more positive. Learn to recognise negative thought patterns and replace them with more realistic and helpful thoughts.
Make changes to your lifestyle. It may be difficult to find the motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle when you are stressed. It’s easy to skip meals or just have a quick sugary snack, to exercise less and to increase your intake of coffee, alcohol or tobacco. However, all this could actually increase your stress levels and make you less able to cope by leaving you feeling depleted and lethargic.
Exercise regularly. During a period of stress or anxiety, hormones are released into the bloodstream. By remaining sedentary, these hormones stay in the bloodstream longer, cause waste products to build up and can increase feelings of irritability and anxiety. As little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can help.
Ask your doctor for advice on the type and level of activity that would be healthy for you. Make it a goal to find a level of exercise that is safe, comfortable and that you will be able to sustain over time.
Reach for healthy foods. Diet is an important contributor to stress management. Therefore, it is important to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, to include 2-3 portions of fish per week and to eat whole-grain products and leafy vegetables. Try to eat regularly to avoid a dip in blood sugar levels and drink plenty of water. Limit your intake of caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee.
Rest and relax. We can all benefit from taking part in relaxing activities. This could be spending time with family or friends, listening to music or reading a book. The important thing is that it makes us feel good.
Express your emotions. Sharing problems with friends and family can help you to cope with difficult situations. Talking things through with a trusted friend, colleague or family member can help take your mind off the problems you can’t control and make you feel more able to cope with the things that you can control.
LifeWorks users can find more support about coping with stress by using their username and password to log onto the mobile app or login.lifeworks.com. Search for “managing stress” for articles, toolkits, podcasts, and more.
This article has been adapted from the LifeWorks article “How to Manage Stress”.