Stress is real and is something that affects each and every one of us. Whether it’s university deadlines, personal problems or juggling too many things at once, we all suffer from it at one point or another. It’s so incredibly important to take care of ourselves in a positive way to make sure we don’t burn out due to stress. But I also know how difficult it can be.
Stress can affect us in different ways depending on the type of person we are. Usually I find someone with a short temper gets stressed more easily than someone who doesn’t have a short temper.
I don’t suffer from stress that often – although I have in the past. And one way stress used to make itself known to me was by my scalp coming up in a big red rash. I know. Attractive, right?
Luckily, when my hairdresser came last weekend, she made a note about how healthy my scalp was looking which means my stress levels must be pretty low. So today, I wanted to share my secrets with you to show you how to decrease stress in your life and actually get rid of it for good.
#1 | Take a beat
In every situation, before you take any sort of action, it’s important to pause for a minute and think. The worst thing is to do something drastic which you’ll then regret. Staying calm is the key. When I know I’m about to boil over, I stay still, close my eyes and count to ten. I know that might sound old school, but if you concentrate on your breathing, you’ll soon start to see through the fog of stress and make better decisions. Don’t let the situation defeat you.
#2 | Have a system
Things only overwhelm you when you don’t have a process that keeps you up to date with everything. Find your own way to create lists and keep your own schedule. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Lately, a lot of people have been talking about bullet journaling, saying it’s become this big thing all of a sudden. And yes, I’ve started a bullet journal this month. But I’m not jumping on the bandwagon – I truly believe this is the best system for me, because I’ve got everything in one place.
Trial out different ways and find a system that works for you. That way, you’ll be able to keep on track with everything and keep your stress levels down. You can read more about what to do to create your own schedule here.
#3 | Get enough sleep
Sleep is good, but getting enough sleep is even better. I’m not talking five or six. I’m talking seven, but ideally 8. More on the weekend. If you’re getting up at 6:30 but you’re staying up till midnight to finish a blog post, you’re doing something wrong. It will make you a lot less productive the next day, which means you’ll get frustrated and then stressed.
Switch off. Pick a time and don’t go past that point. And remember, you’re not just stopping to go to sleep. I aim to switch off at least an hour before I go to sleep so I can have some quality time with my family. And kitty cuddles of course.
#4 | Don’t multi-task
Single-tasking is the way forward. Right now, I could be taking breaks throughout this post to check social media or reply to an email. But I’m focusing on this and this alone. I’m not taking breaks, I’m not procrastinating. I’m writing this until it’s done and then I’ll move onto the next task.
If you focus on different deadlines and different projects, you’ll find that you’ll never make as much progress as you want, which will make you stressed. Narrow your focus, prioritise and do what’s important.
#5 | Practise self-care
It's really unhealthy to spend every waking minute working or keeping your mind busy. You've got to set time aside to switch off, but more importantly, do something for you too. Have a list of things that you love doing when you've got some spare time, whether it's having a big pampering session, reading a book or baking a new recipe.
I enjoy going out for a walk in the countryside where there's no one else around apart from the nature. I try and tune into everything around me - the colours, the sounds, the scents. But sometimes, I'll also just fancy doing absolutely nothing. Just sitting on the sofa with a glass of wine and a feel-good film. There are many different ways you can take care of yourself without even realising, and it's important to make self-care a part of your life.
#6 | Don't chase perfection
I wrote a post recently about how you don't need to be perfect to be successful and believe it or not, having the mindset of perfect leads to a lot of stress. Why? Because it's practically unattainable. You'll forever become frustrated with the fact that you're not perfect. Things change and situations change. If you're the best in the job you're in now and you move to a new company, you have to learn to start from the bottom again. Or if you're coming out with As in high school, you have to learn that you need to work even harder to get that high mark at university.
Perfection always changes, but it's how we view perfection that affects our stress levels. Learn things, build your confidence and find your own version of success that means something to you.
#7 | Be active
Exercise really does relieve stress. I can definitely vouch for that. Every day when I get home from work, I exercise. If I'm stressed when I get home because I've had a bad day, I'm definitely not stressed by the end of my workout. Whether it's HIIT, weight training or pilates, it gives me time to myself, to work my body and mind, and tune into them to see how they're feeling. Your body releases so many chemicals when you exercise and a lot of these have really positive effects - leading to less stress.
#8 | Try to stop worrying
Easier said than done, right? Tell me about it. I'm a chronic worrier. I worry about things in and out of my control, and I've come to accept that it's a part of who I am. But as soon as I start worrying, that leads to me getting stressed. So how do you prevent it?
You focus on the things you can do, and the situations you can change. Why worry about something that hasn't happened yet? I've found two things that really help me with my worrying. The first is to take each day as it comes and the second is to find someone out there who'll talk some sense into you. (Mine is my mum!)
#9 | Surround yourself with love
The people we know show so much love for us on a daily basis that sometimes, we can't even see it. Like your mum giving you her last chocolate mini egg. Like your dad dropping you off into town to meet your friends. Like your kitty coming to give you a big cuddle. It's always the little things that mean the most.
And your loved ones are also there for you to talk to whenever - embrace that. If you're stressed, tell them why and see if they can help you. They're there to not only talk some sense into you, but for you to give your trust to them too.
10 | Believe in yourself
Stress happens. We're only human. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself some off days. That way, you'll come be stronger and achieve anything you put your mind to.
How do you cope when you're feeling stressed? What else would you add to this list?