Don't let stress get the best of you


At the end of your tether?

There are so many constructive and positive coping mechanisms, starting with taking charge of your stress. This is the first thing you need to do, otherwise it will take charge of you.

You cannot worry about that which you can’t control. What you can do, is find ways to minimise the stress.

Let your self-talk be positive 
The saying, “What you think, you become” has some truth. Block out those voices in your head that say you can’t manage or will fail, and replace them with powerful positive statements. This takes discipline, but you will reap the rewards as you begin to act on the positive thoughts.

Get active! 
Exercise is probably the best stress-reliever. Researchers have found that after 30 minutes of moderate exercise, participants scored 25 percent lower on psychometric tests measuring anxiety, and showed other positive changes in brain activity. Physical activity also lowers depressive symptoms and anxiety, improves self-esteem, and enhances alertness and reaction time. Moderate exercise also decreases cortisol production during stressful periods. Preferably try to do some outdoor exercise in a beautiful environment, but if this isn’t an option, even just a walk to the shops will do. 

Watch what you eat
Fast food might be convenient, but it won’t help at all! Keep your blood glucose regulated with small, balanced, healthy meals throughout the day. You can’t go wrong with fish, salads, fresh fruit and veggies, with some gentle spices for flavouring. Stay away from high-fat, highly refined foods; and go easy on the alcohol.

Sleep it off 
Sleep is incredibly restorative for your body, especially to the nervous system and adrenal glands, so make sure you get enough. Different people need different amounts of sleep, but on average, aim to sleep for about eight hours a night. Sleep deprivation affects blood glucose levels, reduces the production of the human growth hormone, increases the production of cortisol, and reduces the production of leptin (a hormone that signals satiety).

Get away at least once a day
Escape for at least 15 minutes each day when you’re completely alone to listen to soothing or uplifting music. Or, read an inspiring book. Perhaps sit under a tree and look at the sky; feel the wind in your hair and listen to the rustling of the leaves. This little escape will take you “out of yourself” and you’ll feel more peaceful.

Be good to yourself
Research shows that touch works wonders for stress and it breaks down the social distancing that highly stressed people can create. It needn’t even be from someone close to you (although that might be first prize); so book yourself in for a massage. A daily hug from someone special can help too.

Chat to a friend 
It’s amazing how vocalising and sharing worries with someone close to you, lightens the load and helps one see issues from a different perspective.

Write about your worries as well as how you might overcome them in a diary or as a letter to a friend. This might stimulate more creative ways of dealing with stress, especially when your mind feels cluttered with issues.

Say “no”, and try to get into a routine 
If you’re struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to say no to projects that won’t fit into your schedule, or will compromise your mental health. You might feel bad initially, but you’ve got to get your priorities straight and your health has to be high on that list. Establishing a routine can help if you feel you’re spinning out of control.

Help at hand 

  • Fix your money issues. Few things create as much stress as dreading the appearance of your credit card statement. Grit your teeth and do it.
  • Take breaks at work. Set yourself a reminder to get up, stretch, bounce around on your tiptoes and wriggle your wrists.
  • Make time for a break. Go for a swim, which helps to get oxygen fizzing around in your bloodstream.
  • Get time alone with your partner. No phones, no artificial light. Watch a nostalgic video or, better still head for the outdoors; somewhere barefoot and away from traffic noise.
  • Have a good sniff. Try essential oils, like pine, citrus and sandalwood. Sprinkle some in your bath as well as in a burner on your desk if nobody objects.
  • Exhaust yourself. Whether it’s a pre-dawn run, a bout of yoga or one-to-one time with a heavy bag, few things are as good at booting stress as tiring exercise. Make the time.
  • Don’t try to do too much. Choose two or three important, high-priority things each day. Get them out of the way early and you’ll feel more peaceful than if you did nothing or tried to do too much.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24