One person’s stress is another person’s reason for getting up in the morning. In other words stress is a very personal thing. Some people we know seem to thrive on tight deadlines, last minute meetings and the like yet that same person might find a visit to their mother-in-law terribly stressful. In order to try and understand what it is that ‘stresses you out’ try and look at your day in a little detail and see if you can identify what ‘gets to you’ and see how you may avoid it.
Things that cause us to feel stressed are known as stressors and clearly some things are more likely than others to act in this way. However without any stressors at all our lives could become quite boring – think how stressed you became before that first date or how anxious you were before the job interview for the job you now love. The trick is to get the balance right – for you. In order to achieve this there are a few rules you might like to consider.
One of the most important is recognising what is that one can change in ones life – and do something about it – but don’t waste time beating yourself up over things you cannot change. Secondly manage your time. We all think there are never enough hours in the day but using them better can help. Delegation is a very important part of this – we probably recognise it in the work context but it can also apply at home – even children can take some of the load by taking some responsibility of their own.
Another way of managing time is planning ahead. Practise saying ‘No’. If people hear you say it a few times they may stop putting upon you… We all know people who love a good argument but life should not be one constant battlefield; just agreeing with people more can make a huge difference to how you feel. Next, get in touch with your body. If you are tired – do something about it. Cancel an engagement, go to bed early and don’t polish the kids’ shoes, let you husband make his own lunch! And if you are ill don’t try and carry on as if you are not. If it is infectious, your colleagues won’t thank you for passing it on and you won’t ever get enough thanks to make it worthwhile anyway. If you have to go in to work recognise your own limitations and cancel meetings or go home early.
Don’t leave relaxation until the weekend – or worse still until Christmas! If you find it hard to relax – buy a ‘relaxation tape’ – these are available everywhere these days – and make time to listen to it! Use this or some other stress reduction technique daily – other methods include a massage from your partner, making time to watch television, a warm bath and a warm, non-stimulating drink. However do not overdo the alcohol, cigarettes or tea and coffee and avoid tranquillisers if at all possible. Finally if you become stressed during the day – work it off. You cannot beat physical activity of whatever description. Even walking home from the station can be better than driving (although it might be the rail journey which stressed you in the first place!). If you do not have the time or inclination to do any proper sport, try walking the dog or going for a short run (you don’t have to dress up and call it jogging!). And never forget the stress-relieving properties of sex (preferably with your partner though)!