Five steps to deal with stress

We all suffer from stress at some point, whether it’s in our work or personal lives – here’s how to avoid being overwhelmed.

Whether it’s caused by work pressures, personal issues or anything else, stress can have a huge impact on our daily lives. While it’s not always possible to avoid it, taking steps to reduce stress will help you concentrate on what needs to be done and have more time to enjoy the activities you love. 

1. Stop and breathe 

In other words, don’t panic! Take a moment to mentally step away from your worries and take deep, slow breaths until you feel calmer. Or if you feel too anxious to sit still, get up and move, even if it’s just a walk round the block. The point is to be able to think rationally about what’s worrying you, so you can put it into perspective rather than feeling overwhelmed. 

2. Identify the issues 

Once you’re feeling calmer, take an objective look at the cause of your stress. What’s at the heart of the problem? What are the real risks (both short- and long-term) if it does all go wrong and what are the chances of it actually doing so? Having a clearer view of the situation will help you to avoid over-reacting and focus on resolving it instead. 

3. Prioritise actions 

The best way to get rid of stress is to get rid of the problem that’s causing it – not just coming up with a potential solution, but actually putting it into action. This can be a daunting prospect and may take you out of your comfort zone, but the longer you avoid it, the more stressed you’ll feel and the harder it’ll be to resolve the issue. 

4. Ask for help if you need it 

This could be from your manager, your colleagues, your family or friends…anyone who can provide you with the support or knowledge you need to tackle the cause of your stress. It may be tempting to try and sort everything out yourself, but make sure you’re not over-working yourself when having help from others could make the task so much easier. 

5. Look after yourself 

We’ve all had days when nothing seemed to go right, only to find that everything was so much easier after a good night’s sleep or a decent meal, so you’ll save yourself a lot of stress and hassle by making the effort to take care of yourself. Eating healthily (at least most of the time), including exercise in your daily routine and getting enough sleep will give you the boost you need to focus on what needs doing and then get it done. (For example, staying up late to watch that last episode of Game of Thrones won’t help you finish your report tomorrow, but an extra hour or two of sleep might!)