7 tips to beat stress

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Health | Lifestyle -

1 Iden­tify the cause

If you are hav­ing prob­lems with tense mus­cles, over­tired­ness, headaches or mi­graines, it is quite pos­si­bly stress-re­lated. Is it your job, re­la­tion­ship, liv­ing sit­u­a­tion or some­thing else? Prob­lems can be di­vided into three cat­e­gories: those with a prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion, those that will get bet­ter with time and those out­side your con­trol. Learn to fo­cus on the first kind; ig­nore the oth­ers.

2 Move your body

Ex­er­cise won’t cure your stress, but it can help to clear your head and make you feel as if you’re gain­ing some con­trol. Try some­thing new: yoga may be calm­ing, but there’s noth­ing more thrilling than pum­melling a punch­bag. Don’t ex­ac­er­bate the stress by drink­ing, smok­ing and down­ing dou­ble espres­sos – these aren’t fixes, they’re crutches that will only make you feel phys­i­cally and men­tally worse.

3 Talk it through

If you are the kind of per­son who is open to ad­vice, find a friend to have a moan with. Friends can work as a sup­port group, sound­ing board and – if there is some ob­vi­ous so­lu­tion you haven’t con­sid­ered yet – they may pro­vide you with so­lu­tions. Some­times, you can’t see the easy way out of a sit­u­a­tion when you are stand­ing right in the mid­dle of it.

4 Ditch the phone

This doesn’t mean put it on “do not dis­turb” and look at it less: ev­ery­one knows that is not a proper so­lu­tion. Put it in a drawer an hour be­fore bed and ig­nore it – have a bath, watch a film or read a book. You won’t check your work emails and you will stop scrolling through the seem­ingly end­less achieve­ments of your peers that will make you panic and feel as if you are get­ting nowhere. Breathe.

5 Clear your head

You can be as scep­ti­cal as you like, but re­search has pro­duced com­pelling ev­i­dence that med­i­ta­tion can help al­le­vi­ate stress af­ter just eight weeks. Med­i­ta­tion re­pro­grammes the brain so that you have more ca­pac­ity to man­age stress as it arises, be­fore it starts ac­cu­mu­lat­ing and bury­ing you. There are lots of apps: Headspace, for ex­am­ple, is de­signed for peo­ple who are just start­ing out.

6

Make a list

Hav­ing too much to do may cause you to flail around be­cause, if you are mov­ing faster, it feels as if you are get­ting more done – but this is a false im­pres­sion. Make a to-do list. Do the big, im­por­tant things last, af­ter you have achieved sev­eral of the small things. That way, you will ap­proach the big things al­ready feel­ing good.

7

Eat healthily and drink wa­ter

There is some ev­i­dence to sug­gest that what you eat af­fects your mood and ev­ery­one knows the mood-boost­ing ef­fects of pizza last only as long as the pizza. Junk food makes you lethar­gic and less able to deal with stress, so stick to high­fi­bre, car­bo­hy­drate-rich foods, fruits and veg­eta­bles, and try to avoid high fat, caf­feine and sugar.

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