20 tips for controlling your stress levels

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Self-Care Library
  1. When faced with a situation that winds you up, use 'first-aid diaphragmatic breathing' to diffuse tension. Take long, slow in-breaths and longer, slower out-breaths, using your belly. This needs practice.
  2. In a situation you can't do anything about (for instance, when you're stuck in a traffic jam or late for an appointment), give a mental shrug, sigh, drop your shoulders and tell yourself 'this will pass'. This also requires practice! Your body and mind need to rehearse these methods so that they are available when you need them.
  3. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Good nutrition fuels your body systems so that you have more energy to deal with events and are less prone to exhaustion.
  4. Don't skip or rush meals or live on snacks and junk food. Don't skip breakfast (you need it to jump-start your metabolismThe chemical reactions necessary to sustain life.) and make sure you take a lunch break. Don't rely on alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs to help you keep going.
  5. Exercise for at least 20 minutes, four times a week, to release the body's 'feel good' chemicals, known as endorphins.
  6. Take regular short breaks for a stretch, and do a little physical activity every day, even if it's only a short walk.
  7. Organise your day to avoid rushing and arrive at your workplace early enough to plan and allocate time for the day's tasks.
  8. Be appropriately assertive: decide what it is you want or feel and say so specifically and directly, then stick to your statement.
  9. Learn to say no to unnecessary requests so that you don't take on too much.
  10. Delegate: hand over jobs that other people can do so that you are not over-committed.
  11. Prioritise tasks to make the most efficient use of your time. Make daily lists: urgent, and not so urgent.
  12. Close the door and put the telephone on hold if there is something that must be finished and you can't afford to have interruptions.
  13. Make your workplace as comfortable as possible. if you're an office worker, ensure your chair, desk and workstation are ergonomically correct (good for your posture). Personalise your work area with a pot-plant or photograph.
  14. Avoid working late. Long working hours have been linked to mental and physical health problems.
  15. Spend a few quiet minutes alone, as a buffer zone between work and home.
  16. Keep the hour before bedtime free from daily hassles and aim for 6-8 hours sleep every night.
  17. Allow at least 20 minutes a day for your choice of relaxation, even if you have to mark it in your schedule.
  18. Find time in the week for pleasure and creativity. It doesn't have to cost. Seek out the little pleasures of life and try to appreciate them.
  19. If you go away on holiday, leave your work behind. Short breaks can be more restful than long holidays. Even if you cant afford a holiday away, try to get a change of scene.
  20. Get help when you need it. Open up to friends, family, and professionals. Being able to make use of social support at times of stressRelating to injury or concern. is good for everyone's mental and physical well-being.