You can live with a little stress. In fact, you’ve been programmed to, and a little stress is actually better than no stress at all. Because stress is caused by the body’s natural light or flight’ response, it helps keep you alert and aware of danger. Once you realise this, it doesn’t seem quite so scary after all.
TAKE A BREAK
Make sure you get away from it all as regularly as possible — even if you don’t actually go anywhere. Just being off work will reduce stress and prevent burnout.
Increased energy will help you fight stress, and the best way to achieve that is to get eight hours of good quality, uninterrupted sleep every night. If you have trouble getting to sleep and that sounds impossible, try getting into a routine of going to bed at the same time every night and emptying your head of all the day’s clutter before closing your eyes. You’ll soon find nodding Goff is as easy as counting 1-2-3 sheep.
GET OFF YOUR BACKSIDE
Your body can fight stress better when it’s in tip-top condition, and regular exercise can help moderate cortisol levels and burn off excessive adrenalin — the two main biological causes of what we regard as stress. On top of that, exercise boosts the production of endorphins, the brain’s feel-good’ chemicals, resulting in what you know as that post-exercise high.
Deep-breathing exercises can help you de-stress if you give them a fair crack of the whip. Here’s one example: find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes. In your mind’s eye, picture a place where you feel particularly relaxed, then visualise all the colours and focus on one of them. Concentrate on the sounds (if the sound is silence, concentrate on that). Imagine touching something there and think about how it feels, then imagine the smells. Be aware of your breathing. Notice that every time you breathe out, you feel more relaxed. When you’re ready, open your eyes. Do this regularly and imagining this ‘place’ will soon help you to relax.
Look, you’re probably bored of being told this, but we’re not lecturing you about ‘five portions of fruit and veg a day’ — we’re telling you to eat it because it tastes nice and it makes you feel better.
How does it work? Simple: B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium and magnesium help enhance your metabolic and immune responses. The good news is that you can find these in virtually any fruit you care to mention. And fruit are like Girls Aloud — you might not like them all, but there’s always been at least one you secretly fancy.
As well as being packed full of health-boosting antioxidants, green tea is loaded with stress-busting vitamin C. Cheers.
TALK TO THE BOSS
For most people, their jobs are the greatest cause of stress in their lives. We in Britain work the longest hours in Europe – 44 per week at the last count – and have the lowest job satisfaction. Often we confuse stress with simply being very busy, but genuine, chronic stress can lead to sleep disruption, fatigue, extreme mood swings, violence, depression, alcoholism and even nervous breakdown.
Talk to someone about it before it goes that far. Employers are legally obliged to ensure their employees are not working under undue pressure, so your boss should be able to help – whether you’re overworked, being bullied by a superior or simply bored in your job. Every cause of work-based stress has a solution. If you are the boss, it might be time to retire to that yacht in Barbados you’ve always dreamed of.
TALK TO ANYONE
Actually, men aren’t very good at this. Men are more susceptible to stress because they tend to internalise problems, rather than share them, for fear of appearing soft. That’s daft. Get it off your chests, chaps.
One of the symptoms of stress is anger. You can help combat that if you try to express your opinions and feelings calmly without turning it into a confrontation. Be assertive without being aggressive.
GIVE HER THE EYE
Flirt – at the office, in the sandwich shop, even on the train. The buzz you’ll experience is your body pumping out endorphins, which decrease blood pressure, heart rate and stress.
You’ll feel better. Trust us.
MAKE IT QUICK
Here’s the shocking truth: sometimes women don’t require foreplay. If you are really stressed the preliminaries can seem like just too much hard work – but that doesn’t mean you have health out.
Explain to your better half how stressed you feel but how you really want her, right here, right now (put the magazine down first). Women can empathise with the idea of sex as a release – that’s what vibrators were made for.
GET A MASSAGE
One way around foreplay is to ask nicely for a relaxing massage. If it leads to something else, great. If it doesn’t, you still get those tense neck and back muscles unknotted.
LET THE MUSIC PLAY
Relaxing music – which in this case can be defined as any music you like to listen to – can help beat stress. Numerous studies have shown that it can reduce heart rate, temperature and muscle activity. Please note: this doesn’t always work when listening to Slipknot.
TAKE A WALK
Exercise might be good for stress but isn’t always practical or possible in the middle of a busy day. So get outside and take a walk. Depending on whether you’re alone or in company, it gives you a chance to clear your head or talk things over. Done properly – back straight, head up, shoulders back – walking will unknot muscles that tense up when you’re under stress. On top of all that, fresh air and – if you’re lucky – sunshine releases endorphins and lowers blood pressure.
Rushing everywhere or obsessing that you can’t get things done in time at work just produces more adrenalin. Take deep breaths, slow down, and if necessary take some lessons in time management.
An easy way to start is by makings lists. Write down everything you hope to achieve in a day or a week and prioritise. Start one job Hand see it through to completion ¬don’t start lots of jobs and try to juggle them all at once. All this will Floc is make it harder to complete any one of them, getting you worked up in the process.
Sometimes you have to accept that things happen beyond your control. ‘roué cannot influence everything that happens in your life. The sooner you accept this the sooner you’ll stop stressing about things you’re unable to change.
Strung-out people tend to harbour more cynical feelings about life it’s one of the emotional symptoms of stress, along with the likes of pessimism, hyperchondria and irrational fury. But it works both ways: the more cynical or pessimistic you are the more stress you’ll feel. The fact is, if you tell yourself you feel better – and believe it – you will feel better.