27 Sep Staying cool, calm and collected… strategies for managing stress
“I can’t believe where the year has gone!”
“I wish there were more hours in the day”
“I’ve been so busy lately”
If you’re one of the many people who feel that life is travelling at a frantic pace, the chances are high that you’ve probably used one or more of these three phrases when chatting with your friends and family lately. When life is so busy and you’re juggling work, family, friends and relationships, feelings of stress can often result. While some stress can be helpful in motivating you to keep going, large amounts of stress can impact on your physical health and wellbeing.
So how can we manage stress appropriately so that we have enough to motivate us, but not so much that our health and wellbeing suffer as a result? Well, there are a few strategies you can try to stay cool, calm and collected when life picks up the pace:
Find the spark
It can be helpful to identify what sparks an increase in your stress levels. If you know what these things are you can take steps to tackle them before you see your stress levels rise.
Deep breathing exercises can help to create a sense of calm. Take deep breaths in through your nose, and breathe out through your mouth. One full deep breath should last as long as it takes you to slowly count to five.
Mindfulness and meditation
When life gets busy, practising mindfulness by concentrating on what is happening in the present moment can help with managing stress. As a way of being mindful, try paying attention to your breathing and really taking in what you are doing and what is happening at the time. Whether it’s noticing the sound of a bird chirping outdoors, the taste of your lunch or the scent of spring flowers, being mindful can help you to focus.
Meditation is also widely viewed as a great stress management solution. If you find it hard to still your mind at first, keep trying, as practising regularly will help. Some people find listening to relaxing, quiet music helps when they’re busying around trying to check items off their ‘to do’ list. Either way, it’s important to find what works best for you.
Take a breath of fresh air
Taking a quick break and spending time outdoors can be a powerful antidote to the pressures of daily life. Go for a walk in the fresh air and embrace the energising effects of sunshine and the calming vibe of our beautiful green spaces.
Move your body
Exercising regularly will not only help you build your physical fitness, but will help you to manage your stress levels too. Whether it’s stretching your muscles with Tai Chi or yoga, or raising a sweat on a run or with a game of basketball, exercise can help to lift your mood and provide a welcome mental break. It’s okay to start with a small amount of exercise and build from there. We recommend talking to your doctor or an exercise professional about what would work best for you.
Rest and rejuvenation
We all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep, but sometimes it’s easier said than done when there is so much happening. To assist with this, it can be helpful to settle into a routine of getting up and going to bed at similar times, and building the regular exercise we spoke about before, into your day. Having some wind-down time before you go to sleep is also important, so try to allocate half an hour or so of an evening to doing some relaxing activities. Steering clear of caffeine based drinks close to bedtime can also help with ensuring you have a good night’s sleep.
Finding the balance
It’s something we all strive for, right? But how often do we find it? In trying to find the balance, it’s important to remember it’s okay to say ‘no’ to taking on extra responsibilities if you can. Counsellors and other health professionals can help you to develop strategies for saying ‘no’ in a respectful way, and provide guidance on how to manage some of the other things that may be contributing towards your stress levels, including family and relationship issues. Uniting offers counselling and mediation services which provide a safe place to talk about troubling emotions, behaviours and relationship issues, and can help guide you through life’s difficulties. If you would like to find out more about the Uniting Counselling and Mediation services, you can get in touch by calling 1800 486 484 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of finding the balance, you could try making extra meals over the weekend and freezing them, so that you have healthy food at your fingertips for nights when you may get home late and not feel like cooking. This will give you back some time in your day- a huge bonus!
Catch ups with friends and family
Staying connected to the people in your support network can help with managing stress. Book in regular catch-ups with family and friends, as a good conversation with a few laughs can make the world of difference.
Most importantly, if you feel that your stress levels are having a significant impact on your health and wellbeing, contact your doctor and arrange an appointment to discuss your concerns.