Stress is a word we all know well. We would be amazed if you’ve gotten this far in life without experiencing stress in some form, especially at work. In the modern world it is very easy to feel stressed, overwhelmed and burnt out, especially when work (where we spend most of our time) is the leading cause of stress. But stress can cause a lot of problems in your life, from not being as ‘present’ as you could be, to tension in your relationships, a dip in your work and even wider health issues. To avoid this, you need to know how to handle stress when it rears its ugly head, as well as what you can do to reduce your stress level in the first place. And it just so happens we have some tips for you.
Break It Down
It’s very easy to look at your mile-long to-do list and start to feel overwhelmed. Workload is a common cause of feeling this way, and if you let it get into your head then it can cause a lot of stress and worry. So when you start to feel yourself getting overwhelmed by your workload, stop and take a step back. Focus on one task at a time, and ignore everything else on your list until it is done. Then just move onto the next thing. If a task seems to big, break it down into a series of smaller, easier to manage tasks. Looking at the entirety of a project or even your daily to-do list can be overwhelming and cause anxiety or even a panic attack, so try to avoid that, and take it one step at a time.
Don’t Forget To Breathe
It’s surprising just how many of us will forget to breathe when we are stressed. But not taking in enough oxygen causes our body to stimulate a stress response, which will just make the stress you’re feeling worse. So next time you feel the stress bubbling up, stop what you’re doing and take a nice, deep breath. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, and take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Do this 8-10 times and you will feel your nerves calm down. Some people don’t believe that breathing deeply can help, but research has shown that breathing deeply opens up a neural pathway in your brain, releasing signals and hormones that act to calm you down. So even if you don’t believe it, give it a try!
Take A Minute
Studies have shown that working continuously for long periods of time can have a negative effect on your brain, while taking regular breaks actually makes you more productive. So get yourself out of the mindset that you have to be at your desk all the time, and instead get into the habit of taking breaks. If you know this will be hard for you, try downloading a Pomodoro timer app. The Pomodoro technique essentially means you work for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. Repeat this cycle 4 times, and then take a longer break. This method has been proven time and time again to boost productivity and reduce stress around workload, so it’s definitely worth trying.
Find The Good, And Be Proud
If you aren’t careful, stress can leave your mind full of negative thoughts that only tend to make the stress worse. So instead of dwelling on the negatives, try to fill your head with positive thoughts. Take a minute to think of something you’ve done well today, this week or this month, and allow yourself to recognise it. Feel good about it and proud of what you achieved, whether it was at work or in your personal life. Be grateful for all that you have, and how you have managed to navigate your way to where you are now. Positivity and gratefulness are hugely helpful in times of stress, as they take you away from the negatives and help you focus on the positives.
Be Ok With It!!
This is maybe one of the most important tips, which is why we saved it for last. A very wise man once said ‘what we resist, persists’, and over the years we have realised just how true this is. If you are constantly dedicating thoughts, time and energy to your stress, then the stress will keep coming and probably keep growing. We like to think of it as the ‘cycle of worry’ – the more you think about a problem and push it away, the worse it gets, and the worse it gets, the more you think about it. The only way to break this cycle is to accept stress for what it is, address it and move on. We know it’s easier said than done, but remember that no one is perfect and stress is natural!
If you’re struggling with feelings of stress, burnout or feeling overwhelmed, there are options out there to help you. At the Holistic Healthcare Group, we provide a wide range of complementary and holistic therapies designed to help you manage your mental and emotional wellbeing, giving you the tools and support you need to rebalance your life. If you’d like to find out more, just get in touch with us today.
Sophie Kirk Lic Ac, BSc (hons), MBacC, diploma in CBT, FEA