How To Cope With Stress: 18 Expert Tips That REALLY Work

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  • Things can get a little overwhelming sometimes, and we can all suffer from moments of serious stress. But don't panic, we've spoken to top psychology experts to find out what you can do to banish that anxiety. Right now.

    1. Rest up
    ‘Ensure you get between 6 and 8 hours of good quality sleep a night,’ says Dr Chris Bundy, Simple psychologist and senior lecturer at the University of Manchester. 
    2. Exercise
    ‘Go for a brisk 10-minute walk each day to improve your mood and lift your spirits,’ says Dr Chris Bundy. ‘So many of us spend too much time chained to our desks, but it’s vital to get out at lunchtime and clear your head, putting your worries into perspective.’
    3. Stay positive
    ‘Don’t dwell on the negative,’ says Dr Chris Bundy. ‘Try and focus on the positive things in your life and screen out the bad. Look back at happy photos, see friends, and practice focusing on one new, positive thing a day. This will help switch your thoughts from negative to positive.’
    4. Don’t fear failure
    ‘We can all suffer from a crisis of confidence and worry about failure instead of working on our strengths,’ says Dr Chris Bundy. ‘Look forward and focus on what you want to achieve rather than what you have failed at in the past, and be realistic with your goals.’
    5. Laugh it off
    ‘Take time to smile and laugh,’ says Dr Chris Bundy. ‘It’s the surest way to boost your mood, which will help alleviate stress.’

    6. Keep a stress diary 
    ‘Write down how you’re feeling to gain insight into the early warning signs and symptoms that show you are stressed,’ says Dr Gail Kinman, professor of Occupational Health Psychology at the University of Bedfordshire. ‘Some people get headaches or become irritable. This will help you take action before things get worse.’ 
    7. Maximise social support
    ‘This is the most effective way to offset stress at work,’ says Dr Gain Kinman. ‘Think about the people you have to support you, both inside and outside of work, and talk to them.’
    8. Maintain boundaries
    ‘It is vital to have effective boundaries between work and home,’ says Dr Gail Kinman. ‘Do something to physically separate the two, such as going for a walk, changing your clothes when you get in or phoning a friend for a chat.’
    9. Make time to worry
    ‘Designated worry time can be useful,’ says Dr Gail Kinman. ‘Set aside 10 minutes a day to spend worrying. If you find yourself becoming stressed during the day, write down your problem and forget it until your worry time. Most worries sort themselves out during the day anyway, and this will help to contain the anxiety.’

    10. Take a break

    ‘Sit down and take some deep breaths,’ says psychotherapist Dr Emma Mardlin, of The Pinnacle Practice. ‘Breathe in deeply through your nose, filling your lungs, and then exhale through your mouth. Do this several times, and it will help you think more clearly, while restoring a sense of calm.’

    11. Question whether it REALLY matters
    ‘Ask yourself whether the thing that is stressing you out is really that important in the grand scale of life,’ says Dr Emma Mardlin. ‘If you died tomorrow, would there have been any point in wasting time over it?’
    12. Find the root cause
    ‘You need to ask yourself what the stress is really all about,’ says Dr Emma Mardlin. ‘If you’re struggling to get to the bottom of it, invest in seeing a good therapist who can assist you in this and help you release the problem or negative emotion once and for all.’
    13. Express yourself
    ‘Write it down or talk it through,’ says Dr Emma Mardlin. ‘This helps to externalise things and can take some weight off your mind, helping you see things in a different light. When you see things written down or hear them out loud, they often seem less awful.’
    14. Make a list
    ‘This can help eliminate the stress altogether,’ says Dr Emma Mardlin. ‘Make two columns on a piece of paper, one for “problems” and the other for “solution options”. Think of all the possible ways you could resolve each issue. You should see this as an action list, and work through it gradually, doing what you can, when you can.’
    15. Be grateful
    ‘As soon as we start remembering what we are grateful for, our minds switch out of stress mode and into the relaxation response,’ says psychological coach Nick Jankel-Elliott, author of The Switch: The Surprising Truth About Creativity And How To Rewire Ourselves To Break Through Anything. ‘Think of as many things that you are grateful for as possible within one minute and write them down quickly, then look over the list.’ 
    16. Shake it off
    ‘A remedy for stress is to shake, which immediately discharges the energy that has built up in your body and makes you feel better,’ says Nick Jankel-Elliott. ‘Put some music on and shake around the house, or simply flick your arms around in the loo at work.’
    17. Find a purpose
    ‘Research has shown that people who have a meaningful life are less stressed,’ says Nick Jankel-Elliott. ‘Having a meaningful life means finding something that is more important than just yourself to focus on. It could be your family, your relationships or a project.’
    18. Help others
    ‘It has been shown that people who volunteer and give their time to others are happier, healthier and less stressed than those who don’t,’ says Nick Jankel-Elliott. ‘They even live considerably longer, so find something that you feel is worthy of your time, and give your ideas and support to it.’

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