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8 great stress busters

by Harry 6 minutes read

Last updated: 31 May, 2022

The first step to feeling better when you’re stressed is always identifying the cause. Once you understand where your stress is coming from, it makes working through the issue much easier.

The worst thing to do when you’re stressed is to turn to something unhealthy to help you cope. It may work as a short-term fix, but your mind and body will begin to associate those things with destressing and quickly rely upon them for help in tougher times.

Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster says:

In life, there’s always a solution to a problem… Not taking control of the situation and doing nothing will only make your problems worse.

He says the keys to good stress management are building emotional strength, being in control of your situation, having a good social network, and adopting a positive outlook.

Of course this can only come after realising that you are stressed in the first place - for help identifying the symptoms of stress, check out our 9 Tell-Tale Signs That You Are Stressed.

These are Professor Cooper's top 8 stress-busting suggestions:

8. Exercise

Being active is perhaps the best de-stresser. It may not make your stress disappear entirely, but it will certainly clear your mind and distract from the stress you’re feeling. It won’t only serve as a distraction though; exercise will release serotonin and dopamine which can greatly improve your mood and reduce some of the emotional intensity that you're feeling.


7. Take control

"If you remain passive, thinking, 'I can't do anything about my problem', your stress will get worse," says Professor Cooper. "That feeling of loss of control is one of the main causes of stress and lack of wellbeing."

Taking control will make you feel empowered and realising you can do things to change your mood and situation is a crucial first step to finding a solution.

6. Connect with people

A good support network can help ease your stress and provide different outlooks on your situation which you may not have previously considered. So, reach out to those at work, in your family or circle of friends and don’t hesitate to ask for their help.

Professor Cooper says, "If you don't connect with people, you won't have support to turn to when you need help" and “talking things through with a friend will also help you find solutions to your problems,"

Besides asking for guidance on solving your stress, simply spending time with friends and family can help. The activities we do with friends help us relax. Having a laugh and joking around is an excellent stress reliever.

5. Make time for yourself

"We all need to take some time for socialising, relaxation or exercise," says Professor Cooper.

He stresses the importance of putting aside a few nights a week for some quality time doing the things you love to do. Try to forget about work and anything else that may be occupying your time, and instead, focus on yourself and spend time doing things that make you happy, whether it’s binging a series, reading a book or just taking a nap. Doing nothing could even be your go to, whether that's taking a minute to clear your mind with meditation or sitting outside for an hour.

Cooper states that "by earmarking those 2 days, it means you won't be tempted to work overtime.”

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4. Challenge yourself

Start challenging yourself to learn new things. Set achievable goals and take steps to achieve them. By taking on a new project and achieving results, you’ll help to build your confidence and feel a lot lighter in general. As a result, you should begin to feel less stressed in life as you start to feel rewarded by your efforts in new and exciting challenges.

Professor Cooper also says:

“By continuing to learn, you become more emotionally resilient as a person… It arms you with knowledge and makes you want to do things rather than be passive, such as watching TV all the time.

3. Avoid unhealthy habits

Try to avoid unhealthy quick-fixes to feeling stressed - turning to things like alcohol and cigarettes can quickly form a reliance on them to briefly distract from the stress in your life.

In the long term, these solutions will not help solve any problems. They may provide short term relief, but regular use will create their own problems.


2. Help other people

Professor Cooper stresses the importance of helping others when you can. Those that volunteer to help those in need tend to become more resilient to stress.

"Helping people who are often in situations worse than yours will help you put your problems into perspective," says Professor Cooper. "The more you give, the more resilient and happy you feel."

Helping others can be something as small as aiding an elderly person crossing the road or going on a coffee run for work colleagues. If you don’t have the time to volunteer then this can be a great solution to help you feel happier and destress your life.

1. Accept the things you can't change

Some situations simply can’t be changed, but there’s almost always something you do have control over. Start by accepting the things that are out of your control, like the actions of others, and this will help you focus on what you can change.

Let’s say your company is being forced to make redundancies, this may be completely out of your control and something you cannot change. Although this situation is of course terrible, the best way to reduce stress here is to shift perspective onto the things in your control – like updating your CV and applying for new roles.

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