Winston Churchill said: “If you are going through hell, keep going!”

Stress tends to creep up on us due to a perceived inability to manage the demands life throws at us. Sometimes it can be beneficial as it pushes us to achieve more, but higher levels of stress sustained over a long period of time can be harmful to our bodies and minds. Stress can have a damaging effect on our immune system, central nervous system, cardiovascular system and even mess with our emotions in a big way.

When we allow stress to continue unchecked and untreated, it can cause chronic anxiety, muscle pain, insomnia, high blood pressure and weakened immune system. Research has shown that stress can play a significant role in the development of diseases like depression, obesity, and heart disease.

These risks mean that we need to develop defence strategies and stress combating tactics to protect ourselves from the dangers that may arise if we don’t work to mitigate stress. There are many ways to self-manage stress and regain control of your full faculties and be healthy again. Here are just a few of the most effective stress combatting tips:

1. Step back from the stressor
Sometimes it is difficult to break away from the main cause of your stress, for example, increasing debt or an unhealthy relationship. However, when you take a step back, this could mean taking a couple of days away to yourself and allowing yourself time to think, you give yourself an opportunity to reflect. This may result in you noticing or feeling things you weren’t before, and in this more relaxed and reflective state you may find a solution that wasn’t obvious before. You will need to face up to the root of the stress at some point, but taking a short break in the interim can help you see more clearly and boost your strength.

2. Exercise
Regular exercise is vital for a strong body and mind and can significantly reduce stress levels. Just 30 minutes of exercise, 3 times a week will have you smiling and full of energy. Exercise needn’t be meaningless, it could be walking the dog or dancing with friends, it doesn’t have to be solitary either! Exercising with others is a great motivator. Take your pick, run, swim, play a sport, take a salsa dancing class, whichever form of exercise you choose will help you manage your stress levels better. Build up slowly, just 5 – 10 minutes a day will enhance your mood.

3. Meditate and practice mindfulness
Two of the most popular relaxation techniques around the world are meditation and mindfulness. Both help ease stress by releasing negative emotions and focusing on the present moment. They relieve stress by providing the space and clarity we need to alleviate the demands we imagine and which, in many cases aren’t valid.

4. Accept what you cannot control
One of the best ways of reducing stress levels is accepting the fact that you do not always have control over certain situations. Stressful events will occur, there is no avoiding them. We can however control how we react to a stressful situation, how we interpret our experiences is very much down to us.
As Viktor Frankl said, “The one absolute freedom a person has, is the power to choose in a given situation their attitude.”

5. Open up to people
Sharing our experiences both positive and negative can help ease the pressure we feel. It can bring huge relief to discover someone else is experiencing similar problems to us, or to listen to alternative solutions suggested by others.

Stress is a part of everyday life and there’s no way to avoid it completely. Without it, we wouldn’t experience the feeling of accomplishment that follows the overcoming of obstacles and challenges. Ensure you set achievable, realistic expectations for yourself and learn to keep things in perspective.

If you’d like to know more please feel free to contact me.

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