I’m pretty sure that anyone reading this post has experienced stress at some point in their life, perhaps even right now, whilst reading the post!
Having recently graduated in psychology, some people think that I can somehow magically stop myself from feeling stressed. I recently attended an interview and after I’d mentioned that I recently graduated with a degree in psychology, and went on to explain the benefits of psychology in managing stress, the panel of (FIVE!) interviewers looked at me with a smug-one-eyebrow-raised look on their faces and asked, “So then, are you stressed right now?”. I looked at them staring back at me, heart pounding fast, clammy hands shaking, waiting for an answer, when it suddenly dawned on me, and I replied with a “Well yes I am, but wouldn’t it be abnormal for me to NOT feel stressed in such a situation!?”, to which they all seemed surprised, yet nodded in agreement.
Cos the truth is, everyone experiences stress at some points in their life, it is completely normal and a part of human nature. However, while we cannot completely eliminate stress from our lives (even just crossing a busy road can be a source of stress!), there are still ways in which we can reduce stress.
Here are 5 tips you can use to help you cope with stress.
1. Set goals, write them down & tick them off!
This is probably the thing which I find helps me cope with stress best, especially when I have loads of things to do and everything seems to be spinning around in my head! I just sit down, write down a list of all the things I have to do, and ideally, the day by which I would like to have them done. The trick here is to be specific when setting goals. So instead of ‘Do household chores by next week’, I would write ‘Tidy desk on Monday”, “Do the laundry on Tuesday”, etc. This means that you will get to tick stuff off your to-do list more often and you will feel that you are actually working your way through all the things you need to do as the week goes by! It is also a lot less daunting setting smaller, specific goals rather than larger, more abstract goals.
2. Set some time to do whatever you fancy – Guilt-free!
How many times do you find yourself procrastinating and wasting endless time on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc., while feeling guilty, knowing that you should very well be doing more productive!? I know I definitely do this A LOT. However, by the time I manage to pull myself off my laptop and get down to business I find that I’m already tired as I would’ve wasted so much time (and energy) doing something that I wasn’t even enjoying much, as I knew I should be doing other, more productive things! A much better thing to do is to set some time, say 30 minutes, to do whatever you like, without feeling guilty, such as running a bath, going for a relaxing walk, watching TV or even scrolling through Twitter or Facebook (WHY NOT!?). However, you must also promise yourself that once your “free time” is over, you will go back to working on the things you need to do. This not only helps you manage your time better, but it also helps you to enjoy your relaxation time a lot more, as you would not have to worry about all the things you should be doing at that time!
3. Plan a trip somewhere!
One of my favourite things to do in my free relaxation time is plan trips! This does not have to be a full-blown two week holiday to the Maldives. You could plan a trip somewhere in your home country, discover places you have not been to, or places you have not visited since you were young! It could also be a trip to see your favourite singer or band perform live in concert. This will help you to completely submerge yourself into something positive and productive in your free time, and will also mean that you will have something to look forward to during stressful times – WIN!
4. Get more sleep!
We have all heard that we should get around 8 hours sleep every night, however most of us don’t manage to get this much sleep, especially in times of stress. Stress may prevent us from getting to sleep as easily as we normally would, it may mean that we wake up several times during the night feeling anxious (Whilst checking the time to count how many hours sleep we’ve got left before the alarm goes off!), or it might just be that we do not get enough time to sleep due to a lack of time becayase of all the things we have got to do! The key here is TIME MANAGEMENT. Setting a list of goals, accomplishing the ones you aim to accomplish before heading to bed, avoiding procrastination, and knowing that you can finally go to sleep having done what you needed to do during the day is essential for a relaxing, quality sleep.
5. Talk to others!
Talking to someone else, be it a friend or family member can be SO beneficial in times of stress. Talking to someone who is going through the same stressful experiences means that you can talk about ways to cope with the experience, and what the other person is doing to help themselves. However, talking can help in other ways too. Meeting up with a friend for a coffee (or should I say, chamomile tea!?) will take your mind off the stress, and having a laugh with another person is SUCH a good form of stress relief!
I hope that atleast some of you have found this helpful! Let me know what your top tip for coping with stress is!