It may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re stressed, but exercise really does help. As well as producing endorphins, the body’s ‘happy hormones’, it uses up stress hormones and helps relax tense muscles. Any form of moderate exercise is beneficial, even after a single session. Moderate exercise just means you get slightly out of breadth doing it – it could be as little as going for a brisk walk.
TALK THROUGH THINGS
Stress is the perception that you’re unable to cope with the demands being made on you. Sharing your worries can give you a sense of release, and spending time with friends and family can also help take your mind off things. If you’re stressed at work, do try to talk to your manager – he or she has a duty to try to resolve the problem.
BALANCE YOUR LIFE
Stress often comes from being emotionally invested in one thing, so try to balance the different areas in your life: family, hobbies, friends, work and so on. Think about what makes you really happy, and challenge yourself to build on the areas that need work.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
As well as being physically exhausting, stress can temporarily weaken your immune system. Try to eat a healthy, balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, and resist giving into ‘bad’ food cravings – these might actually make you more prone to illness.
CHANGE YOUR THINKING
A good way to cope with stress is to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. This is part of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a therapy that helps with negative processes such as unwanted thoughts, attitudes and beliefs. Instead of thinking “I’m worthless”, think “I’m a good person”. Create affirmations for yourself and repeat them until you believe them.
LEARN TO SAY NO
Try not to take on more than you can handle. If you find it hard to say no, consider the advice you’d give to someone else in your position, and apply it to your own life.
DON’T GIVE IN TO BAD HABITS
Some people find that stress makes them smoke or drink more alcohol or caffeine. Keep the bigger picture in mind, and try to remember that giving in to bad habits won’t help you to cope better, and may make you ill.
LET GO OF THINGS
Instead of tolerating the things that cause you stress, confront them. If your messy home is driving you crazy, tidy it up! Challenging yourself often feels risky, but may also give you an opportunity to grow.
- BUPA Newsletter