Michael Management has recently introduced a range of personal development courses onto the platform, including two of my courses on stress management which explain how to reduce and manage stress, so I thought I would write an introductory article on how to reduce your stress to give you a flavor for the content of the courses.
If you are struggling to cope with high levels of stress in your life you can feel trapped and unsure about what to do for the best. This article looks at ten steps that you can take when you are feeling overwhelmed, to help you move forward to a better place and to feel less stressed.
When you are feeling stressed and are struggling to cope, you experience a build-up of tensions that can impact you physically, cognitively, emotionally, and behaviourally resulting in you displaying the symptoms of stress. Many people just try and cope with these symptoms but do not do anything to reduce their stress, resulting in their stress building up more and more. Acknowledging that you are stressed involves accepting that the symptoms you are displaying are the symptoms of stress. Once you acknowledge that you are stressed you can start to move forward.
Try and talk to a trusted friend, family member, or colleague about what is going on for you and how you are feeling. Talking to someone will help you gain clarity, understand your feelings, gain perspective, and help you to release the tension that has been building up. When you are stressed telling someone else is often the first step in starting to feel better.
The person you tell how you are feeling may be able to help you with your stress, but you may also want to speak to someone else who may be able to support you with your stress (e.g. your manager, the Human Resources team, a doctor, a counselor or therapist or other people qualified to help you with stress). When you are stressed it can be extremely helpful to have someone alongside you to support you in moving forward to a better place.
To reduce stress and feel better you need to understand the root causes of your stress and act on these causes. The root causes of your stress may be quite different from the presenting causes or what you initially think is causing stress. There are many causes of stress, ranging from a series of minor irritations to major upheavals. Stress may be created by many different things. Your stress may be caused by one individual issue or a combination of factors. Start to think about what may be causing your own stress.
Think about the different causes of your stress and what you can do that may help you to make things better. You don't need to think of every possible action just some actions that may work (e.g. your long working hours are making you feel stressed, so the actions may be to look at being more productive and to have a meeting with your manager to see if you can delegate some of your work to others).
Once you have decided on some actions that you may want to take to address the root causes of your stress, start to prioritize these actions. Consider prioritizing first the actions that are likely to make the most difference to you. This is not a science, but you do not want to create more pressure by trying to take all the actions at once.
When you are feeling stressed it is very difficult to actually take action because you are likely to be fearful, anxious, and worried and you may be flitting between different things and finding it hard to concentrate. However, only by taking action will you have a chance of feeling less stressed. Try taking small actions to get you started. Also, think about taking actions that could make a big difference quickly. Once you start taking action, it diverts you from feeling anxious, as when you are fully focused on taking action it is hard at that moment to feel stressed.
It can take some time to reduce stress as you need to identify the root causes of your stress and act on the root causes. In the meantime, consider taking interim steps to help you to relieve the symptoms (e.g. exercise, relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises that calm your mind, interests, and hobbies, having fun, taking a break, volunteering, connecting with others and self-talk and gratitude).
Stress is a complex issue so do not expect to solve everything immediately or overnight, it can take time. You may find that what you thought were the root causes of your stress are not. In this case, you will need to explore further and find the actual root causes and appropriate actions to take. You may have to try different actions and revisit what really are the root causes of your stress. You may try something, and it does not work, so you may need to try something else. Acting in one area may result in action needed in other areas.
You can learn how to both reduce and manage stress with one of our online stress management courses on Michael Management. We have two courses available: stress management for business, aimed at business owners, directors, and managers, and stress management for life, for everyone else.
Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas to try when you are feeling stressed so that you can reduce your stress.