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How to beat stress in five steps

OVERCOME STRESS: Many of us feel stressed in our everyday lives, but there are some simple ways we can avoid feeling overwhelmed

STRESS IS sadly a part of modern life – and it can come from a range of scenarios.

At work, it can come through having to face very tight deadlines without the support you need to complete your tasks. You could be dealing with the pressures of looking after young children on a tight budget.

Or you could be worrying about when you will ever be able to pay off your debts. And then there’s the type of stress that kicks in if you have to give a presentation or a public talk or prepare for an exam.

Chronic stress (prolonged periods of worry) can have very harmful effects on your health. As well as being a trigger for illnesses like depression, chronic stress raises your blood pressure and can cause you to have a stroke or a heart attack.

Stress is certainly a problem that continues to grow.

The annual Gallup Global Emotions Report recently concluded that people around the world are becoming more angry, stressed and worried.

It’s important to remember that chronic stress is habitual, so it will take some time to get rid of. Here are five simple steps you can follow towards a lighter heart and a happier mind...

1. Make time to switch off from the daily trials and tribulations and relax for at least one hour every day

Just shut the world out and do something you enjoy. Reading, playing a musical instrument, taking a relaxing bath with music and candles – and maybe a glass of wine – are all great ways to unwind and will be extremely beneficial to your mental health.

2. Gather your thoughts from a distance
If you’re dealing with a stressful situation and you have a lot on your plate then it can be very hard to find solutions.

You’re caught up in the midst of a sandstorm and it is very difficult to see the way out.

A good idea is to get some distance from your problems so you can gather your thoughts. If possible, take a day or even a weekend away from your usual surroundings, somewhere peaceful, and relax.

Take a journal along so you can jot down any ideas. Distance away from problems can bring clarity and, by relaxing, you’ll be calmer and solutions will come far easier than when you’re in the heat of battle.

3. Be at peace with the concept of change
One of the reasons people become stressed is because they are facing a change or even a number of changes to their lives.

Change is a constant in life and refusing to accept change can cause stress levels to soar.

When you are faced with a change, try to find the positives associated with change and embrace change instead of resisting it.

Every change presents an opportunity for you to grow and there are always positives to find in even the most trying of circumstances.

Change doesn’t bring stress, it’s all about how you react to change.

If you react in a negative way, you will do yourself no end of harm.

4. Don’t put off tasks that need doing
There always seems to be an endless list of jobs that need doing: repairs around the home, paperwork, car maintenance, throwing out junk, cleaning the patio, weeding the garden...it goes on and on!

The more we put them off, the more the list grows and the more they contribute to your stress levels.

So make a list of all of these chores and then schedule something I call a ‘blitz day’.

On this day, you will rise early and spend the whole day sorting out each of these jobs.

Take a few breaks and only have a quick bite at lunchtime and just blitz through these irritating but necessary tasks.

This will get rid of them, you’ll lower the stress they cause but more importantly, you’ll realise just how effective and industrious you can be when you apply the full force of your will to accomplish things.

5. Treat yourself to a pamper day This is a day where you escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday living and enjoy some stress-free time.

You’ll also feel great and give your wellbeing a huge boost.

On this day, have a light workout, a swim, use a sauna, a hot tub or a steam room.

A massage would be nice and if you have access to one, Turkish baths will also give you an invigorating experience.

Try to do this at least once a month, it is an excellent stress-buster.

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