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Beat your biggest stressor

Beat your biggest stressor

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What’s your number #1 source of stress? Rather than try and nix all the forms of stress in your life – pick one, and beat it. By Rosie Brogan.

#1 I’m late all the time
There can be one of three things behind this habit, according to the Harvard Medical School’s Healthbeat bulletin. You’re overly optimistic about the time it takes to get places, you’re harboring anxiety about the place/event/person you’re going to meet, or you’re trying to jam too many things into your day.

If you fall into the first category, add 15 minutes to your estimates of how long it’ll take to you to reach your destination. If you’re unconsciously avoiding something or someone, address those feelings. And if you’re trying pack too much into your day, map your day into segments – assigning time to different tasks, so as to work out what you can manage and what tasks need to be bumped to another day.

#2 I’ve signed up for too much
Too much on your plate? Pass off (or let go of) at least one responsibility. Some ideas: hire a housecleaner, shop for your groceries online, pay teens – yours or someone else’s – to work on your backyard. Bottom line: do a brainstorm and, again, work out what tasks are essential, and which ones you can delegate or give up altogether.

#3 I feel unmotivated
Start writing down things you’re grateful for, advises Harvard Medical School (HMS). “If the list seems too short, consider beefing up your social network and adding creative, productive and leisure pursuits to your life.” If that fails – give yourself a pep-up with a funny movie or book. And if none of these strategies hit the spot, consider seeing a counselor or psychotherapist and talking about how you can better engage with work, people and life in general.

#4 I feel burnt out
Give yourself some love! “Care for your body by eating good, healthy food; and for your heart by seeking out others,” says HMS. “Consider your priorities in life: is it worth feeling this way, or is another path open to you? If you want help, consider what kind would be best.”   

Another way to nurture yourself is to indulge in the pamper therapies: massage, a hot bath or a mindfulness walk. Any exercise will help! “Done regularly, exercise wards of tension, as do relaxation response techniques,” writes HMS.

#5 I’m lonely
If connections aren’t coming your way, go out and make them happen. Volunteer somewhere you admire (Oxfam stores, the Red Cross, Barnados or with a bush regeneration group), or start attending community group meetings for activities like meditation, or clubs like photography societies. Call someone whose company gives you a pick-me-up. Or if something deeper is going on and you’re nervous about socialising, don’t be shy about seeking help.

As HMS writes, “The world is a kinder, more wondrous place when you share its pleasures and burdens.” 

#6 I’ve got a conflict happening with someone
Rather than using phrases such as, “You always..” or “You never..”, start with “When do you this I feel…” or “I value our relationship and I’d like to find ways to make it work better…” or “I’d appreciate it if you…”  

It can also help to take your constructive chat somewhere neutral, such as to the beach, a park or a café – you can more easily capture your companion or colleague’s full attention.

References available on request