Feeling like things are out of control is one of the primary causes of stress – and taking a passive approach of thinking “There’s nothing I can do about it” is likely to make things worse. Identify the things you are able to change and take control of them; doing so is empowering and will bring you closer to a solution.
While it’s important to concentrate on the things you do have control over, it’s not possible to change every situation that’s causing you problems. Work towards accepting the things you aren’t able to change, so you can focus your efforts on those that you can.
A long to-do list can be daunting, so it’s best to prioritise those things that are most important and will have the biggest positive impact on your life. At the same time, remember that to-do lists never get cleared – there will always be something to add, so don’t expect it to ever be empty and try not to let that overwhelm you.
Exercise helps clear your thoughts and calm your nerves – so while it won’t completely eliminate your stress, it will help you deal with problems more calmly and benefit your overall mental health.
Keeping in contact with friends and family ensures you have people you can turn to when you need help, and spending time with others often helps put our problems in perspective. Laughing together can be a great way to relieve stress, as can talking through things that are worrying you.
Challenging yourself to do something new – like learning to paint, play tennis or take up the piano, for example – can be a great way to occupy your mind while also boosting your confidence. Doing something productive is mentally stimulating and often makes you want to find other ways to keep occupied.
Pencilling in some time to yourself – whether that be to see friends, read a book or play sport – is really important, ensuring that you give yourself some quality time away from work. Try to give yourself an evening or two a week doing something that you really enjoy.
It can be tempting to use cigarettes, booze or caffeine as ways to avoid thinking about your problems – but they won’t solve the issues at hand, and may even make things worse. It’s healthier to tackle the things causing your stress, rather than drinking or smoking something to help you temporarily forget.
Volunteering and community work has been shown to help put your problems into perspective, as well as making you feel better in yourself. Alternatively, it can also feel beneficial to just try and do something nice for someone around you each day.
Often easier said than done, but trying to focus on the positive aspects of your life has been shown to help people appreciate the things that are going well. In the evening, try writing down some positive things that happened that day, or a short list of things for which you are grateful.