Stress is a word that gets used a lot, and often in the wrong context. For many people stress is real, debilitating and all-consuming.
For most of us, we face daily challenges that ‘stress’ us out but we can luckily still continue with day-to-day life. If you do feel stressed, whether, by your job or something more personal, the first step to feeling better is to identify the cause. Work with your GP to find out more.
Professor Cary Cooper is an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster.
“Not taking control of the situation and doing nothing will only make your problems worse.”
We’ve pulled together ten things you can do to help yourself if you’re feeling the burn, have a lot on and are feeling a little overwhelmed.
Try each one and see what works for you.
Often just the act of taking control is in itself empowering, and it’s a large part of finding a solution that helps you. Make a plan. Write things down. Set some goals. Identifying you have a problem and making a plan to try and help yourself is a huge first step to beating stressful feelings.
Exercise won’t make your stress just disappear like magic, but it will reduce some of the emotions that come with it. Often, it’s this that you’re feeling, which messes with your head because we recognise our emotions as true, when in fact they aren’t always! Getting some exercise in can help with clearing your thoughts and letting you deal with your problems more calmly and rationally.
Book in some ME Time
In the UK we work long hours and many of us juggle work, friends, family life and other obligations all in a day. This means we suffer as we might not be doing things that make us happy or feel relaxed or we might just need to blow off some steam. Try to plan in at least one evening or part of a day that is for you, and you alone. Do something that is for you, and no one else, and the secret? Don’t feel guilty! This is important to keep you feeling good.
Keep in Touch
It is so easy to want to hide away and talk to no one when you feel overwhelmed. Millions of us do this to help us contain how we feel or protect others. The issue? It doesn’t really help. A good support network of family, friends and work colleagues can soften your troubles and help you see things in a different way. Friends are particularly important according to Professor Cooper; he reminds us that the activities we do with friends help us relax. We often have a good laugh with them, which is an excellent stress reliever.
Set a New Goal
If you can challenge yourself or set a new goal to be achieved it’s a great boost for the brain, and for you. It helps you distract yourself from day-to-day worries, builds confidence and skill and the brain loves to learn, it even releases happy hormones when you remember things correctly. You could
Try learning a new language or a sport, learn to cook, do the garden or do something leisurely like learning to knit! All these types of activities will help you deal with stress.
Try Helping Someone Else
Professor Cooper says that evidence shows that people who help others, through activities such as volunteering or community work, can often become more resilient.
“Helping people who are often in situations worse than yours will help you put your problems into perspective,” says Professor Cooper. “The more you give, the more resilient and happier you feel.”
We don’t all have time to volunteer, but we can all try to do something good each day. Grab someone a coffee, compliment someone, hold the door open, carry someone’s shopping…even letting someone pull out at a road junction can make you feel better. Try it!
Banish The Bad Habits
We all know that we have these. A guilty pleasure, something to make you feel better but often just makes you feel bad. These don’t really help with stress reduction, so we need to learn to skip the bad habits and try to pick from something else on the list.
Drinking, smoking, drugs and even caffeine are not the answer to feeling stressed. They are just temporary fixes that numb but don’t help. In the long term, these crutches won’t solve your problems. They’ll just create new ones.
Put Things In Order
Learning to work a bit smarter can take the pressure off. Often, when stressed it’s difficult to ‘see the wood, for the trees’. Getting organised and prioritising your work and plans can help give some structure and a feeling of control and accomplishment. Try to focus on the tasks that’ll make a real difference first.
Keep Positivity Levels high
“People don’t always appreciate what they have,” says Professor Cooper. “Try to be glass half full instead of glass half empty,” he says. One thing you can try here is writing down three things that went well, or for which you’re grateful, at the end of every day. It might feel strange at first, but as with any habit, you get used to it and can give you an opportunity to evaluate how you feel and also spot triggers on bad days.
Let Things Go
Sometimes when you are feeling stressed, you are not in control of what is causing it. Often, you just need to accept you cannot change that element, and move on, instead of fighting it every day.
Think of your world as a bubble, you can fix what’s inside it, but to get to the outside factors you’ll need to pop your own bubble which causes more problems. Work on the inside stuff first and you might be surprised about how much falls into place elsewhere.
At Carefour, we support our teams that work in Home Care and Live-In care across the Midlands & Oxfordshire. We offer flexible working, managerial support, and helplines and keep our teams up to date through training. We help them manage working with their own busy days, as well as spot signs and symptoms of stress in our clients.