The secrets of stressing less (and smiling more!)

Published 25 January, 2016

Get inspired by our #WomanKind campaign and build a better relationship with yourself. One way to take care of your emotional health? Help yourself deal with everyday stress. Your body will thank you for it...

Life might be quieter without those daily challenges, but experts believe that our bodies may actually benefit from having to deal with short spurts of stress, as it increases our motivation, excitement and momentum. But chronic stress can make us miserable and anxious – plus, when we’re stressed, we do all sorts of things that aren’t good for us, from drinking more to comfort eating! It may not be possible to remove yourself from stressful situations, but what matters is how you react and deal with them. Here’s how:  

Find your triggers                                                 
The first step is to learn what triggers your particular stress. Are there situations that always set you off? Do you react better or worse at certain times of the month? If you’re a working mum, juggling home and work may be your source of stress, while for others the cause may be feeling tired and run down. Recognise the warning signs – you can’t always avoid stress, so you need to minimise the unhealthy aspects and maximise your ability to cope.

Make the changes you can        
You may be able to make changes to your routine to help reduce stress. For instance, time management techniques can help people become more organised and find time for themselves.

Be realistic
It’s also important to have realistic expectations of yourself. If a train is late, you need to accept that there is nothing you can do about it. It’s not the end of the world if you miss a deadline. Sometimes, we become locked into unrealistic patterns and when something beyond your control goes wrong, you might automatically assume you’re a failure. Not true!               

Learn to relax                                 
Some people benefit from taking up yoga, but anything helps, even just doing absolutely nothing for a few minutes. Laughter can also be a real help – research conducted by Texas A&M University showed that laughter positively influences a person’s state of mind. It relieves stress and gives a sense of general wellbeing, so the more positive we feel and the more we can laugh, the better we deal with problems.

Get moving
Could you exercise more? When you’re stressed, try going for a swim or a jog – regular exercise can help to calm you down and clear your mind. The endorphins released during physical activity help alleviate stress, easing tension and boosting your mood. It plays an important part in your weight-loss plan, too.       

Identify your food traps                            
When we are stressed, we tend to make poor choices – and that could include food choices! So, use a food diary to work out when you make poor food decisions and plan ahead to beat them.

  • Do you skip meals?
  • Habitually snack when you’re not hungry?
  • Forget to drink water?
  • Be prepared!

How to deal with them

  • Always try to eat breakfast, even if time is short; it will help you be more productive during the morning and not get ruffled by minor inconveniences.
  • Try to cut down on caffeine, as too much can impair mental performance, and drink herbal tea instead. Avoid caffeine after around 3pm, too, as it can interfere with sleep, and proper sleep is vital for helping you handle daily stresses.
  • Drink plenty of water and, finally, have healthy snacks at the ready and make sure they’re full of protein to help avoid fatigue.