Mental Health Ireland describe stress as ‘A feeling of being under abnormal pressure…caused by anything from an increased workload, to an argument with a family member, to financial worries.’
It’s something we’re all familiar with and we all cope with to varying degrees. Below are some ways to help reduce that stress and hopefully begin to feel a little better.
Exercise: We all know we should be getting daily exercise anyway but many of us don’t. Personally speaking, when I’m feeling down/unwell/stressed exercise is one of the first things to go out the window and that really shouldn’t be the case! If, like me, you struggle to stay motivated try to make your exercise something you actually enjoy doing – yoga, cycling, dancing, walking the dog, team sports, a group class, swimming…the options are endless! Exercise doesn’t have to include a gym or a big financial output. Take some time to figure out what works for you and your situation.
Write things down: If you can’t get something off your mind don’t just ruminate on it, get it out of your head. Sometimes you don’t want to share your stresses with a loved one but you still want to get them out. Try keeping a journal, write and write and write until all of those thoughts are out on a piece of paper. I find it much easier to organise myself and find clarity when I can see my thoughts written out in front of me. Maybe that could work for you too? Or even consider writing down all the things that are bothering you and then ripping up the piece of paper – it can be a nice little ‘f*** you!’ to whatever has been bothering you!
Laugh – There’s a reason people take part in those somewhat bizzare laughter yoga sessions! It’s been claimed that laughter reduces stress, boosts the immune system and even relieves pain. Why not give laughter therapy a go? Watch your favourite comedies, go to a show, do something fun with a friend (bonus points for spending time with a loved one!). Or maybe even check out that laughter yoga!
Spend time with others: Being part of a social circle can help foster a sense of belonging. Social support should never be underestimated, having someone you trust to turn to during difficult times can be invaluable. Most of us would be familiar with the old saying ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’. Often, it’s true but even just spending time friends or family can help you feel better, even if you don’t share. So, grab some friends and go for a pint, get a coffee, go to the cinema or have a night in – whatever suits!
Change: If your stress is caused by your lifestyle consider making some changes. Would being more organised help? Could you delegate some duties at home or at work? Do you need to learn to say no sometimes? Do you need to find a way to get more sleep or downtime? Could your diet do with an overhaul? Maybe you need to change a few things. If it’s something really pressing obviously deal with that first, otherwise, start small. You’ll be more likely to stick to changes you make if you take your time and change in small steps. Change can be difficult so be kind to yourself. And remember, counselling isn’t just for those experiencing a mental health difficulty like depression or bipolar disorder. It can be for anyone who needs it so if you’re feeling overwhelmed consider some professional help.
How have you reduced stress in your life? Share your tips below!