Ways To Reduce Stress

Our stress levels are affected by various behaviours that we can control, as well as states of personality and environment that we cannot. The following are simple indicators of our resilience to stress. If you are missing many of these things in your life, you may be more at risk to stress symptoms. Equally, if you feel you might be experiencing stress, improvement in one or two of these areas can have a positive impact on the way you deal with pressure and difficult situations.

Enough sleep: Researcher Stanley Coren has shown that a reduction of just 10 per cent can have an impact on how we think, behave and make decisions.

Regular exercise: Regular exercise is good for the mind, as well as the body. A daily brisk walk, say the experts, is all most of us need.

Eat sensibly: Aim to eat a balanced diet. Meals should be eaten unhurriedly, preferably in company we enjoy.

Self-talk: Negative thoughts crossing our minds can reflect negative beliefs. Don't let these go unchallenged; they can act as self fulfilling prophecies.

Smoking and/or drinking: If you must smoke and drink do it in moderation. But preferably, follow the health guidelines for alcohol consumption and don't smoke.

Time for ourselves: A little time spent on ourselves, for example with a hobby, forces us to 'switch off' from our daily cares.

Social interaction: People benefit from involvement in something greater than themselves, such as doing things for a church or charity, or joining a theatre group.

Social network: Do you have friends with whom you can discuss things important to you? People need a sense of connectedness with those around them.

Have a project: Do you have realisable plans or ambitions? People function better with a sense of purpose in their lives.

Manage your life: Plan a schedule which you manage, rather than one which manages you, and allow enough time to do things. Also, consider stress management techniques such as relaxation, self-hypnosis, visualisation or meditation.

Self-regulation: If you are happy about your emotional wellbeing, do you have a way to make sure you can spot it if anything starts to go off-balance?