Overwhelmed, irritable and generally ‘not yourself’? It may be time to stop and take a look at how you’re managing stress.
It is easy to get stuck into a spiral of negative coping strategies. “I’m too tired to go to the gym”. “I need a glass of wine to wind down from a stressful day”. “I’ll grab a chocolate bar to give me an energy boost to get me through the day”. ” I’ll have to cancel my social plans, I’ve got too much on”.
But take a step back. In the moment, yes, these seem successful in helping to manage the feelings of fatigue and anxiety. But, in fact, these quick fixes lead to longer term problems with our physical and mental health.
Whilst there is no magic wand approach to managing stress, we have a few tips that will help to keep you on the right track.
Tips for managing stress
1. Take some exercise
Its all too tempting after a busy day at work to ignore the gym kit you meaningfully put in the car that morning. To combat this, try keeping a diary of how you have felt before and after an exercise session – odds are you have never regretted actually going. If the gym really is too much on that particular day, compromise. Try a short walk and don’t beat yourself up – anything is always better than nothing.
2. Eat well
What we eat can have a big impact upon the way that we feel. When we are tired and stressed it is easy to reach for those calorific snacks. However that sugar spike can quickly lead to a sugar slump and we can end up feeling even more tired and grumpy than before we ate. If this sounds familiar, try keeping a banana or healthy snack bar in your bag for when you need a boost. And make sure that you stay hydrated with plenty of water.
3. Keep in touch with friends
When we feel overwhelmed a night out can feel like the last thing we want to do. But the chances are, once you are out, you will have a good time and feel a lot better for having a break. If socialising really does feel like too much, at least pick up the phone. You will be amazed at how a positive human interaction can lift your mood.
This things might sound basic or even unrelated to managing stress. But taking some time out for your self, putting the ‘to-do’ list on hold and forgetting about your stresses for a while can actually help you to manage them better. Sometimes the things that cause us stress can often seem like the most important thing in the world, but time taken to look after yourself helps you to be in the best mindset to deal with stress as well as gain some perspective on the things causing you stress.
Moreover, taking care of your body by eating healthy and moving more has benefits beyond the physical. The mind and body are connected so keeping yourself physically well will inevitably help your mental state as a consequence.
You may think you don’t have time, but stress left unmanaged can lead to things like anxiety and depression. So don’t be afraid to put yourself first and take small, manageable steps to feel healthier, more balanced approach to life and ultimately managing stress better. These small things can often be the reset ‘button’ you need. These days, it is often termed as ‘self-care’.
Take a look at the NHS’s tips for stress busting too. If you’ve already given these things a try and how you are feeling goes beyond what you can cope with then perhaps its time to talk to someone. Make an appointment to talk to your GP or you can make an appointment for a free initial consultation to get further help.