3 ways to manage your stress

Thursday 28th October 2021

Written by Rebecca Collins (Disability and Wellbeing Advisor)

Stressed out? 

Wouldn’t it be nice to only feel just enough stress to be motivated, in control and confident? You know when you’re multitasking like a pro and no challenge is too great? Scientists call this eustress and whilst we can’t remove all the things that cause us stress (hello London) we can change our response to it and reduce its impact upon our minds and bodies. 

A key difference is our perspective: with eustress, the challenges are short-lived, manageable and we feel in control. With distress, the challenges are overwhelming, we cannot find solutions and feel helpless.  

At this point, I must add that some events are just plain distressing as anyone living with a teenager will attest. Sometimes just changing our perspective isn’t enough to put us in control of the stressful situation. At times like that, remember,  

“You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass”  Timber Hawkeye 

woman sat on bench readingThe body’s stress response is automatic and without it our ancestors wouldn’t have survived. When it senses danger, the brain automatically pumps hormones and oxygen around the body before we even get the chance to think. This can save our lives, allowing us to escape life-threatening situations. The problem is this reaction can be triggered by non-life-threatening situations. 

We can’t change the stress response as its one of the brains most primitive functions, but we can change how we react to it: 

 

  • Breathe: Give yourself enough time to think to assess the situation. Taking a few deep breaths is enough.
  • Be kind: When stressed it’s easy to let that inner critic run riot but self-criticism will not help, quite the opposite. Self-compassion is much more motivating, helpful, and likely to lead to a positive result. 
  • Get support: It’s normal to want to withdraw from people during times of stress but this only amplifies the toxic effects on physical and mental health. Reach out to people you trust, tell them what you are going through  

Although we all feel stress, it affects everyone differently and to different extents. Sometimes it is necessary to seek professional help: