Stress: How to Identify and Cope with Triggers
We all lead busy lives in different shapes and forms. From work, school, family, and social commitments, we all have many things that we need to be doing. When we do too much and can’t keep up with it all, it can lead to us feeling stressed, which is never a fun thing to be.
As well as the manic feeling that you can get, being stressed can lead to other physical symptoms such as muscular pain, as well as things like insomnia, depression, and lack of energy. In our daily lives it can lead to lack of productivity, which could massively impact on our personal and professional lives.
So with the festive season fast approaching, I thought I’d write a guide to identifying stress triggers, along with how to tackle them before it affects us enough to ruin Christmas!
First things first; if you want to be able to manage your stress levels and how you react to certain situations, then you need to be able to recognise the triggers that cause the reactions in you. So think about the things that cause you to stress in your life. Certain tasks at work? Certain people? Certain expectations, requirements, or simply a lack of planning? When you can identify what your top triggers are, you can deal with them head-on.
If you can eliminate those things, then great. Though in many cases that will be easier said than done. But when you know what to look out for, you know that you can change how you deal with it and change your reactions. This is actually the fundamental aspect of CBT therapy. You recognize your triggers and change your thinking regarding them.
LIVE A HEALTHY LIFE
If you want to reduce stress in your life, then many studies have shown that living a healthy lifestyle can be the best way to do just that. First of all, things like going for a walk, running at the gym, a yoga class, or a boxing session are all ways to physically relieve stress. They can relieve tension, anger, aggression, and help you to feel happier. Exercise can be a great coping mechanism. It can also help you to be healthy and well. If you get sick, then it can lead to stress and there isn’t much that you can control. Sickness can put your plans out of order and then make you feel more stressed and overwhelmed with all that you have to catch up on. So staying well really is a good way to go if you want to reduce how stressed you feel.
ORGANISE YOUR SOCIAL CALENDAR
There will always be things that you need to do and certain commitments will never end. You are likely to have a full schedule with all that you have going on between work and home life. But do you know what? You can edit out some of those commitments. It is OK to say no to some things if they clash or if they are simply going to make life too stressful for you. We all have the same twenty-four hours in our day. What you need to think about is how you are filling yours and if it is giving you enough to get what you need to do done, as well as having time out to rest and relax.
TAKE TIME OUT
As I said above, taking time out is something that is so important for us all. Time to just be ourselves and be with ourselves can be one of the best things that we can do. Time out can allow us to rest, sort things out in our head, as well as make plans and get organised. If things are becoming too much at work, along with your home life, then it may be worth seeing if your workplace has an employee assistance programs or EAP services, that you could look into. Things like counselling or seeing a specialist in a variety of areas could be something that will help you to be more productive again and feel better at work and at home.
ACCEPT THE THINGS YOU CAN’T CHANGE
One of the things that can lead to our stress, or at least add to it, is when the people in our lives or things in our lives really wind us up. They are things that we can’t ever really have control over. There is sometimes nothing worse than a loud colleague or friend. But at the end of the day, they are just people or situations that you don’t have control over. So why stress yourself out over something that you can’t really do anything about? Learning to accept people and things as they are can be a revelation and help you to reduce your stress levels in a massive way. My Nan used to quote the Serenity Prayer, and it has always stuck with me: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
DO THINGS ONE AT A TIME
Doing more than one thing at a time, or multitasking, is what all the best people do, right? Wrong! I mean, on paper it can seem like one of the best things out there to do. But really, it can just make us even more stressed as we still have lots of things to be doing. When you multitask, just one thing can go wrong in order to ruin your plans. It can be stressful and make you less productive if this happens. So focus on one thing at a time and check those things off your to-do list. The satisfaction of doing that can much be needed, and help with those pesky stress levels.
APPS TO HELP
Although apps such as Headspace can really help with anxiety and stress, why not try Thrive? It’s a wellbeing app that actively helps you manage, cope and address stress in a way that I haven’t actually come across in an app before.
It works by tracking your moods, offering CBT based therapy for stress (which is designed around you) and by offering relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, goal setting activities and wellbeing guides. It’s all in a handy little app as well (and I love the idea of having your own little island to escape to)
I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to trial this app, as it’s actually helped me with money and Christmas stress (all of my Christmas shopping is done!) and helped me set goals for the new year. I can’t recommend this app enough!