Manage your stress: 5 tips that actually work

By Kat Knights writer, tutor and mentor at Professional Academy

Even before lockdown people were feeling stressed. You have two choices when it comes to feeling stressed. You can either do nothing and burn yourself out or you can make some small sustainable changes to help you take back control of your life. In this blog I’ll share with you how you can manage your stress levels so that you feel happier and healthier.

We are often looking for a quick fix to our problems. Something that will solve everything in one fell swoop. The reality is that looking after your stress levels (as with any health issue) is a matter of lifelong management.

Here are five changes you can make to your life to manage your stress levels that actually work.

1. Be kind to yourself

If you are constantly pushing, striving and trying to achieve then you are missing out an important part of the jigsaw puzzle of life and that’s reflection. Take time on a regular basis to stop and focus on the positive parts of your life. Start a journal and each day log three things you are grateful for. You’ll quickly realise you’re doing better than you think.

2. Start a hobby

When we feel stressed the kneejerk reaction is to book a holiday or take some other drastic action. Unfortunately going away on holiday every time we feel overwhelmed is not practical or sustainable. Instead, why not take up a new hobby that will give your mind something different to focus on? Something that is fun and playful. Where your mind can have a break. Even something as simple as a colouring book for adults can help to relieve tension. In Tanya Goodin’s book, Off she explains that colouring is great to do when you are feeling stressed because it alters your brain waves from alpha to beta. This is the same process that occurs when you’re in ‘flow’ and it helps you to unwind and sleep more easily.

3. Schedule time to stop

Putting time in your diary to relax might sound over the top but if you don’t set the intension to put the brakes on then the chances are it probably won’t happen. Take a few minutes to stop on a regular basis. The Pomodoro technique is perfect for this. Set a timer for 25 minutes. When the timer finishes take a break for five minutes. That’s one Pomodoro. Stand up and get away from your screen to get your body moving and to give your eyes a screen break too. Then restart your timer. Complete four Pomodoros and then take a longer break of 15-20 minutes. Along with forcing you to stop, you’ll find this method gives you focus and heightened energy levels too.

4. Get moving

Be the master of your day and move your body first thing in the morning. When you exercise your body releases endorphins. These are your happy hormones and they make you feel happy. A ten minute brisk walk is all you need to feel the effects.

5. Take a digital detox

How many times do you pick up your phone each day without even thinking about? Not thinking about why you are picking it up. Technology, particularly social media, can easily overwhelm us. Apps are designed to keep us constantly returning to them because we know when the next ‘like’ or ‘comment’ will flash up on our screen. This uncertainty of the ‘reward’ triggers high levels of dopamine (a pleasure hormone) in the body. It can also mean that you never switch off and are constantly distracted. Take some time each day to put the tech down and be in the present moment, noticing what is around you and engaging fully with it to restore your mind.