Written by: Cally Worden
Life can sometimes seem like it’s a never-ending round of work and obligations. Where’s the fun?! The danger is, that over time, physical and emotional stress can build up triggering chemical changes in the brain that can lead to mental health issues, such as depression. And it’s all too easy for this to creep up on you.
Coping strategies to reduce stress in your everyday life can help. It takes practice to make the regular use of such strategies part of your daily life, but the payback is worth it. Lower stress levels, with an improved sense of well-being will bring back the smiles into your world. Here are some simple but effective coping strategies that you can start practising today.
Simple Coping Strategies
1. Humour – yep, this oh-so-simple tool is incredibly powerful. Obviously humour is not appropriate in all situations, but try drawing on its power for the small things, you’ll start to feel that life actually isn’t so bad after all. When the lid flew off the shocking pink medicine bottle I was shaking the other day and painted my kitchen a sticky shade of fuchsia my stress rocketed. Then my daughter giggled. I looked at the mess through her eyes – it WAS funny. We cleaned up together – and my stress levels dropped right off.
2. See the positive – there is one phrase that can be applied truthfully to the vast majority of everyday situations, that is – ‘It could be worse … ‘. If you adopt this as your new mantra, you will quickly realise that although life can be rubbish at times your stress of the moment is not as bad as it seems. So you smash a glass – at least it wasn’t your favourite one. And if it was, well – at least you didn’t cut your finger. And if your did, well – at least the shard came out and you don’t have to go to A&E … and so on. This can take some practice, but I promise you the sense of positivity it stimulates is worth it.
3. Time to yourself – this may feel impossible to achieve, but you can find 10 minutes just for you each day if you really want to. Set your alarm early. Bribe the kids to leave you alone. Take the dog for a short walk. Create your own, private, mini-vacation each day. You will soon learn to covet this time and reap the benefits from it.
4. Indulging in a hobby – taking time out from the ‘must do’ part of life. Creating some ‘choose to’ time can work wonders to relieve your stress. I like to sketch, just 10 minutes of scribbling on a piece of paper takes my mind away from life and into my own little haven of creativity – I’m not much good but it makes me smile, so I don’t care.
5. Reading a book – if curling up with a novel isn’t your thing then find some text that is of interest to you and make time to read. The mental energy and focus required to concentrate on what you’re reading is the perfect distraction from day-to-day life. Lose yourself in the words, let your imagination be free, even if just for a short time. It’s like transporting yourself away from the world for a while – the perfect antidote to daily stress
6. Physical exercise – the endorphin release from aerobic activity automatically boosts your mood and provides relief from stress. Do take time to find a type of exercise that works for you though, otherwise you may create more stress than you banish. After years of running and hating it I now go cycling for exercise. The freedom I feel in the saddle instantly eliminates whatever stress I’ve been carrying. It’s so powerful, it’s almost addictive
7. Stroking your pet – many studies have now shown that caring for your pet, especially stroking a dog or cat, can act as a stress-buster. The hormones released when your nurturing side comes out make you feel good inside. And the act of caring for another creature has been shown to have a calming influence.