Stress is caused by the piling up of irritation and frustration, and by being faced with a number of external circumstances. A few minor tricks are often enough to reduce the stress levels of many circumstances:
- Take time to relax and schedule fun things. When planning to do things with others, you're less likely to cancel.
- Do not compare yourself to others. It's about you doing your work and everything else in your life your way, not about how others would do it.
- Clearly define your limitations and learn to say 'no'. If you find you have difficulty doing this, do not immediately say 'yes' or 'no' when asked something, but ask for some time to think things over.
- Learn to listen and respond to physical and psychological signals.
- Learn to recognize typical stress signals, make your choices and act on them.
- Not everything has to be perfect: when it's good, it's generally good enough.
- Concentrate on one thing at a time and do not try to do everything all at once.
- Find out which tasks take more energy and which make you feel more energized.
- Learn to 'have' to do less. Many people 'have' to do a lot only because they themselves believe it has to be done. They set high requirements for their work and themselves, unnecessarily raising the pressure they put on themselves.
- Live a healthy life. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of exercise, go to bed on time: this all helps you keep your body in shape, which in turn makes you better able to cope with stress. Just thirty minutes of exercise a day makes a huge difference. Sleeping pills, tobacco, caffeine and alcohol all seem to solve the problem at first, but only worsen it in the end.
- Enjoy life.
Reduce the stress level of the day by:
- Scheduling in moments to relax;
- drawing up a list of priorities in the morning;
- leaving some time open in your agenda to deal with unexpected issues;
- not putting off difficult tasks;
- alternating work activities;
- making it clear when you do not want to be disturbed, e.g. by having a 'do not disturb' sign on your door;
- taking a break halfway through your day and going out, doing company fitness or taking in some culture;
- doing one thing at a time.
- Not doing everything by yourself:
- Inform your colleagues and managers when you have too much on your plate or your work is too chaotic. Most often, others don't realize this is going on, especially when they are used to you being able to do everything.
- You're usually not the only one faced with certain problems at work or related to the working conditions. By talking about it you can exchange your experience with others and look for a solution together.
- Doing relaxation exercises at fixed times during the day: Concentrate on your abdominal breathing. Continue doing this for a few moments and check whether you feel any tension in your body. If you do feel tense, flex your muscles at that spot for a bit and unflex them right after. Repeat this, but do ease up on the tension slowly until the muscle feels relaxed.
When already suffering from chronic stress
- Do something about it quickly. The longer you continue to strain yourself, the longer it will take for you to recuperate.
- Look to those near to you for support: your partner, your friends, your manager and/or your colleagues.
- Relax and learn to let go of your work.
- Seek out those activities you used to enjoy and take them up again.
- Recognize you have a problem that needs solving.
If you are unable to get a grip on the situation and the solutions yourself, approach your GP or company doctor for professional help.