Work your stress levels for a happier lifestyle

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Do you ever feel like things are getting on top of you? Your boss may be adding to your to-do list on a daily basis and when you get home, family and kids demand your attention rather than giving you a chance to relax.


We’ve asked Simply Woman contributor Professor Ewan Gillon of First Psychology Scotland for an expert opinion and practical tips of dealing with day to day stress.

While we get stressed both in our work and in our personal lives, there are some pretty stunning statistics on the impact of stress at work: the mental health charity Mind estimates half a million people in the UK experience work-related stress at a level they believe is making them ill. The cost to the UK economy is huge, but there are also huge consequences on a personal level, so it’s worth taking a closer look at stress.

What is stress?

Originally stress was an important survival response to danger. Our ancestors’ brains released chemicals and their bodies underwent dramatic changes which allowed them to run faster or fight harder. This ‘fight or flight’ response helped conserve energy, leaving a reserve for emergencies such as attack from wild animals. In modern life, these serious threats have been replaced by modern anxieties, such as work.

The good news is that there are a quite a few things we can do in our everyday life to lower our stress levels:


Top Tips on How to Manage Stress


1)     Recognise your symptoms

You may not know what caused your stress, but be aware of its symptoms: physically these may include irregular breathing, sweating, skin problems, diarrhoea and/or constipation, fatigue, or muscle tension/pain. You may also be irritable, lack concentration, be indecisive and moody or crave junk food. Difficulty sleeping is another common sign.

2)     Identify your stressors

If it’s not obvious what’s caused your stress, try keeping a journal to note each time you feel stressed, how the stress made you feel and how you reacted to it.

3)     Consider your beliefs about stress

If you view stress as negative and out of your control then you will react in a fearful way. However, if you are hopeful about it, then stress can actually be a good thing which motivates us to change and improve the situation.

4)     Avoid unnecessary stress

Learn to say ‘no’ and distinguish the ‘shoulds’ from the ‘musts’ to take unnecessary pressure off yourself.

5)     Be adaptive

If you are unable to control your situation, try adapting the way you’re dealing with it. Being less of a perfectionist and adjusting your standards will help.

6)     Develop healthier coping strategies

Sometimes the way we manage stress can actually make it worse. Taking drugs, drinking alcohol, eating too much, and withdrawing from activity or people can relieve stress in the short term but cause greater emotional and physical problems in the long run. Find alternative, healthy ways to manage stress such as listening to music or having a massage.

7)     Make time for you

It’s easy to neglect your basic needs by getting caught up in the stresses of everyday life. However, making time for yourself will relieve tension and make stress seem more manageable when it comes. You can do this by connecting with other people and doing something you enjoy. Humour is also a valuable tool in fighting stress.

First Psychology Scotland offers a wide range of psychological services to clients throughout Scotland. The company has bases in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and the Scottish Borders.

1 Comment

  1. TanyaVyas

    September 18, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Great post! I think it’s critical to understand stress and its symptoms. Thanks for this, I’ll be able to keep my stresses at bay with this advice!

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