Talking about stress, the very first thing we need to learn is recognising if and when we are stressed. This may seem banal, but nowadays life is extremely busy and everyone is stressed; so it’s important for you to stop and see the difference between a fast-paced rhythm and a stressful situation. If you really are stressed, your body will send you specific signals and your behaviors will change, for istance: you probably have a short breath, your posture is stiff, you fidget, you have tension in your shoulders, neck and jaw, your eyes may be red and smaller, you feel quick-tempered, you struggle concentrating and tend to forget things easily, you need more cigarettes/coffee/alcohol, you eat either may more or way less than usual.
Are any of these familiar? If so, you actually know what stress is: acknowledge your symptoms and recognise the triggers.
Then follow these tips to learn reducing your level of stress.
1) Relax. Again, banal? Maybe, but…are you actually able to relax? My suggestion is to go through a guided relaxation – there are many free audios on the Internet, if you don’t have the chance to go to a class. This allows your body to go into a very deep relaxation and to free your body and mind from the physical and mental tensions. You will also find many tools that will specifically help you fall into a restful and deep sleep, should you have any trouble sleeping.
2) Practice Mindfulness. It will help you relieve stress, regulate your emotions, regain your concentration and, most importantly, become more self-aware: it’s powerful and very quick to practice, you will only need few minutes.
3) Seek for help and support. Reach out to your friend to share what’s bothering you and don’t close yourself off ruminating. If you feel that the level of your stress is unbearable, then you may want to consider speaking with a professional therapist who will help you stop life from spiraling out of control.
4) Develop a good level of self-esteem. In fact, many times life becomes stressful because we tend to degrade our achievements and to focus on the negative side of things.
5) Embrace a positive attitude. Be open, honest and non-judgmental towards people; be kind and pay compliments. People will do the same with you and you will live in a more relaxed and peaceful environment. Also, be aware of your internal dialogue and avoid ruminating and repeating negative or anxious statements.
6) Improve the quality of your relationships and be assertive. Learn to communicate effectively, to respect and affirm your needs and feelings in the relationship whilst listening to the needs and feelings of the other: the stress due to relational conflicts will decrease.
7) Defuse your body. You can do that through regular physical activity.
8) Detox your body. A correct and healthy diet will help you feel healthier and reduce the physical symptoms of stress.
9) Improve your ability to manage time and your organizational skills: keep a diary and set SMART goals – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Follow your plan of action through the day but be careful not to overload your schedule, otherwise you may feel even more stressed!
10) Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Have you ever thought that you have to do everything perfectly, that you can’t make mistakes? This and many more similar beliefs have an incredible impact on our wellbeing and force us to be in a constant stressed state of mind. So, take the pressure off, allow yourself to be flawed and you will start to feel better. You may even find yourself being more successful, because without that noxious stress you will just perform better!