1. Recognise when stress is a problem
It’s important to connect the physical and emotional signs you’re experiencing to the pressures you are faced with. Don’t ignore physical warning signs such as tense muscles, tiredness, headaches or migraines.
Think about what’s causing your stress. Sort them into issues with a practical solution, things that will get better with time and things you can’t do anything about. Take control by taking small steps towards the things you can improve.
Make a plan to address the things that you can. This might involve setting yourself realistic expectations and prioritising essential commitments. If you feel overwhelmed, ask for help and say no to things you can’t take on.
2. Review your lifestyle
Are you taking on too much? Could you hand over some things to someone else? Can you do things in a more leisurely way? You may need to prioritise things and reorganise your life so you’re not trying to do everything at once.
3. Build supportive relationships
Find close friends or family who can offer help and practical advice can support you in managing stress. Joining a club or a course can help to expand your social network and encourage you to do something different. Activities like volunteering can change your perspective and have a beneficial impact on your mood.
4. Eat healthily
A healthy diet can improve your mood. Getting enough nutrients (including essential vitamins and minerals) and water can help your mental wellbeing.
5. Be aware of your smoking and drinking
Cut down or cut out smoking and drinking if you can. They may seem to reduce tension but actually make problems worse. Alcohol and caffeine can increase feelings of anxiety.
Physical exercise can help manage the effects of stress by producing endorphins that boost your mood. Even a little bit of physical activity can make a difference, such as walking for 15-20 minutes three times a week.
7. Take time out
Take time to relax and practice self-care, where you do positive things for yourself. Striking a balance between responsibility to others and responsibility to yourself is vital in reducing stress levels.
8. Be mindful
Mindfulness meditation can be practiced anywhere at any time. Research has suggested it can be helpful for managing and reducing the effect of stress and anxiety.
9. Get some restful sleep
If you’re having difficulty sleeping, you can try to reduce the amount of caffeine you consume and avoid too much screen time before bed. Write down a to do list for the next day to help you prioritise, but make sure you put it aside before bed. For more tips on getting a good night’s sleep, read our guide ‘How to sleep better’.
10. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Try to keep things in perspective and don’t be too hard on yourself. Look for things in your life that are positive and write down things that make you feel grateful.
Get professional help
If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It’s important to get help as soon as possible so you can start to feel better.
Talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling. They should be able to advise you on treatment and may refer you for further help. They may suggest talking therapies such as:
* Hypnotherapy which can help reduce stress by changing the ways you think about stressful situations
* brief interpersonal counselling, which can give you the chance to talk about what causes you stress and develop coping strategies
* mindfulness-based approaches.