National Stress Awareness Day

publication date: Nov 7, 2012
author/source: Anne Coates
Lotus flower

We all suffer stress from time to time. The key is how we react to and deal with stressful situations.

Here are some tried and tested strategies which you can use every day – not just on National Stress Awareness Day – and all of them are free!
 1 Use commuting time to wind down. Switch off thoughts about work but before you start thinking about everything you have to do at home, listen to some music or - if you're not driving - a relaxation tape, read a novel.

2 Write lists – they are a great way to prioritise what you need to do and keep separate ones for work and home. Divide the list into A - imperative, B - important and C - be nice if I have the time!

3 Clear clutter – nothing is more stress-inducing that searching through piles of papers/ clothes or whatever for something you absolutely need right now!

4 Correspondence - deal with letters about your children as you receive them. Return any response slips the next day and enter dates in your diary and calendar.

5 Finances: deal with the bills, don't let them accumulate. If you are having trouble paying debts contact the lender straightaway to negotiate affordable repayment.

6 Constant worries: sometimes a problem just goes round and round in your head, here are two tried and tested strategies:
  • Think of a large number and keep taking away an "awkward number" like 13 or 17. Most of us really have to concentrate on this and it stops you focusing on the problem.
  • Wear an elastic band on your wrist and ping it every time unwanted thoughts enter your mind. Both the slight pain and the distraction of the band help you refocus and reduce negative thoughts.
7 Don't skip meals - eating healthily helps combat stress.  It's so easy to grab a snack that isn't nutritious and may leave you feeling grumpy during the busy early evening with children. Have a piece of fruit or a handful of almonds or Brazil nuts at about 4pm to keep you going.

8 Time out - even if it's just a peaceful bath, take 20 minutes for yourself to relax and recharge. Exercise is also a perfect way to unwind. Joining a class or making regular arrangement with a friend helps you stick to the routine.

9 Meditate - sitting in a quiet place, or taking a walk in a park or the countryside can help reduce stressful feelings. Clearing the mind for a short while has numerous benefits including increased confidence and improved focus.

10 Remember laughter is good for you so make sure you take time to play with your children, enjoy time with your partner and friends. A strong social network  improves your reaction to stress and stressful situations.