Stress-Busting Tips for a Happier Life
Wow, a happier life – yes, please.
If we’re honest, we’d all like happier lives, wouldn’t you say?
All of us could benefit from better sleep, a more positive sense of wellbeing, or that end-of-the-day feeling when we’ve achieved what we set out to.
Restoring your work-life balance could give you a real boost, for example. Can you cope with the demands of your family, your job and your relationship without imploding? Well, it’s not easy.
We’re busy. We’re stressed.
At Sussex Wellbeing we’re all about helping our business customers to reduce employee stress. Without a doubt, calm, happy and motivated teams are more productive than those under the big black stress cloud.
So, we’ve put together this handy guide to help you manage stress both in and outside of work. Be the boss of yourself with our top 7 stress-busting hints and tips.
So, first things first. What exactly is stress?
Simply put, stress is the body’s normal response to change. Anything that you need to adapt to (and you may not even be aware of this happening), causes a physiological response to combat what’s going on.
This is a substance called Cortisol and it’s literally the “flight or fight” hormone that we’ve all heard so much about. It can be a little bit good for us; cortisol can sharpen the senses before an important interview, for example.
Faced with a big grizzly bear whilst out in the woods? Not an everyday situation for the average person about town, we grant you that. However, those stress hormones could save your life. Run away fast…
Dealing with a traffic jam when you’re already late for an appointment? Hmmm…not quite so useful, that pesky cortisol. We’ve not yet adapted as a species for our bodies to know the difference between bears and traffic jams, so the physical response is the same.
What’s more, this reaction can become chronically activated over time and unfortunately, causes wear and tear on the body, both physical and emotional. Headaches, general aches and pains, problems sleeping, a racing heart, tiredness, and even an upset stomach are all symptoms of unrelieved stress.
What to Do About Stress
There are quite a few techniques that you can learn to mitigate the effects of stress. Also, acquiring healthier habits could make a big difference, not least because reducing stress is about self-care and mindfulness. In a nutshell, our advice is this:
- If you can – change your stressful situation
- If you can’t change the situation – change your reaction.
Here’s the Sussex Wellbeing lowdown on your stress slowdown.
Today is your much-anticipated house move. Things are not going to plan. Breathe in and out slowly three times. Slowly. No, slower than that. Don’t gulp in air but try to do this exercise mindfully. It really works, and it gives you the chance to take a mini time-out to assess the situation.
A huge stressbuster, exercise releases endorphins into the bloodstream; this excellent “feel-good” hormone will boost your mood and literally calm you down. A walk around the park with the dog is as good as any gym workout. Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi – these are great as well. Anything in fact, that gets you moving. You’ll sleep better, too. Talking of which…
Get Enough Sleep
Easy to say, not so easy to do if you have a busy life full of “stuff”.
Most of us don’t get enough shut-eye (we need between 7-8 hours of good quality sleep a night). Creating a regular bedtime routine, as well as avoiding stimulants like coffee and alcohol before bed could improve your sleep quality. Being well-rested can help you cope better with stress.
Choose a “normal” everyday situation – making a cup of tea, brushing your teeth, for example – and practice mindfulness. Engage fully in what you’re doing for three minutes. Try this once a day and soon you’ll be able to pause and “check in” with how you’re feeling in stressful situations.
Analyse What’s Happening in a Stressful Situation
Your children are playing up in the supermarket, say. There’s a big queue in the bank. Your boss is hounding you for a report. All difficult scenarios, right?
Try this: analyse the situation. How do you feel? What’s happening here? What’s the worst thing that could happen? You’ll learn almost to detach yourself from a stressful set of circumstances as you’re on the outside looking in.
Also, think about writing things down, and analysing what happened after the fact.
Being in control of your day is a powerful way to reduce stress. Your Things to Do list will enable you to prioritise everyday tasks and plan your productivity more effectively.
Don’t have too long a list, though, you’ll get overwhelmed and not do anything. You may want to think about a daily planner, with the week’s tasks arranged in achievable chunks. Don’t let list-making become stressful!
Reach Out to Other People
Your friends, family, colleagues, line manager or Human Resources department are there for you, albeit in distinct ways.
People who know and love you (friends, family), as well as those who hopefully respect you (your manager and the HR dept) will approach things differently, but that’s all good. It’s all part of strengthening your relationship with them.
Many find that opening up to a professional is helpful, too. A qualified specialist will combine a personal distance with skills and experience to enable you to see the bigger picture and cope better with stress.
Is it possible to live without stress? No. And you wouldn’t want a completely stress-free life either. You’d lose all your motivation. Stress only becomes a problem if it causes negative reactions over time that lead to emotional or physical distress.
So, as we say: stress less. Achieve more. And look after number one.