The Stress Buster

Stress management is about self management.

Stress is a much used word these days, people talk about feeling stressed, under stress, stressed out.

But what is stress??

I think of stress as a feeling of overwhelm, a feeling of being unable to cope.  I often use the metaphor of a ball made up of lots of different coloured pieces of wool that have got entangled and knotted together.  Each of those different coloured pieces of wool represent a problem, task or demand that has been placed on us.  When they are knotted up and entangled they feel impossible to deal with, but when they are separated out and looked at one by one they don’t seem so onerous.

Stress can affect the way we feel, think, behave and our physiology (the way our body works).  Take a look at the list below, are you experiencing any of these symptoms of stress?

*Constant worrying   *thoughts racing   *difficulty in concentrating   *feeling irritable   *feeling anxious   *sudden outbursts of temper   *withdrawing from family, friends or work colleagues  *feeling as though you’re on the go all the time   *headaches   *feeling breathless   *stomach or digestive problems   *feeling dizzy

Try asking yourself these questions:

  • Do you find it hard to make decisions?
  • Do you feel unable to control events in your life?
  • Do you find yourself easily distracted from the task in hand?
  • Do you find yourself disinterested in what’s going on around you?
  • Do you find yourself trying to do many things at once and finishing none?

If you have answered yes to these questions and have noticed yourself experiencing some of the symptoms mentioned above, you may well be suffering from stress.

But there are things you can do to bust your stress!!

Here are my top 10 tips for busting your stress:

  1. Understand your own stress patterns, keep a diary, when you find yourself feeling stressed notice where you are, who you are with, what happened, how you felt, what your thoughts were and any physical symptoms or changes in your body. Look for a pattern, learn to recognise the triggers, then you can do something about them.
  2. Find time in the day to do something you enjoy – every day!
  3. Prioritise tasks and focus on one thing at a time.
  4. Make a list of those tasks and tick them off as you complete them, you will get an enormous sense of achievement.
  5. Identify what’s causing the stress at any given moment and close your eyes, project yourself into the future, what will that ‘cause’ look like in 10 hours time, 10 days time, 10 weeks time, 10 months time, 10 years time, how will you feel about it then?
  6. Take some exercise, ideally 3 times a week for at least 20 minutes, but even just walking to the shop will make you feel better.
  7. Be aware of your sleeping patterns, getting up and going to bed at regular times and having a pre bed routine that relaxes you will help.
  8. Eat a well balanced diet, and eat regularly, giving your body the fuel it needs to run efficiently.
  9. Learn to say no sometimes, don’t keep piling more tasks on.
  10. Develop a specific problem solving technique that works for you!

It can be beneficial to talk to a professional, to get some help in putting these strategies in place, to develop a problem solving technique that works for you or just to offload to when things seem really hard.  I offer a quiet, confidential space, a time and a place to talk and think, at my beachside practice in Selsey (West Sussex).  I also offer Walk and Talk consultations, taking in the sea air as we stroll along the sea path at Selsey’s East Beach.

Lesley Downs MBACP