Stress can have a bigger impact on productivity than just about anything else, and the most difficult part is that many people struggle to manage it effectively. Stress can be the result of a medical condition; in which case, we would always advise our readers to seek professional advice. For those where the underlying causes are heavy workloads or their personal life, the following 10 tips all stand an excellent chance of being able to alleviate the issues and to get most people back on track.
1. Up Your Activity Levels
Some believe that exercise and other physical activity will make stress disappear into thin air. While it is not that simple, there are links between staying active and reducing the impact of the underlying cause. A brisk walk to clear the head has been a useful means of overcoming stress for centuries, and it works as well today as it ever did. This improved clarity often means that those suffering from stress are better positioned to deal with the cause of the stress with a clear head.
2. Avoid Passivity
Stress can affect everyone in different ways, and for many, it is easier to see how everything plays out rather than actively attempting to tackle the root cause. While some situations will resolve themselves eventually, it is often much better to take control of the situation and know exactly what it takes to get things done. Indeed, the feeling of helplessness itself can be the source of additional stress. Conversely, making decisions and heading for the root cause will provide an immediate esteem boost, and the stressed individual will start to feel better almost immediately.
3. Don’t Go It Alone
As the adage goes, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. Sometimes, talking about a stressful issue can make the sufferer quickly feel better even if nothing has really changed. In the best-case scenario, the person you confide in will be able to offer guidance and actively assist in finding a solution.
4. Take some Time Out
Pushing on in the face of adversity can seem tempting and the right thing to do, but there is nothing wrong with getting out of the environment that is causing the stress. Work-related stress reduces when outside work and stressful situations in a personal life suggest that it may be worth heading outside your comfort zone. If neither is truly possible, then at least socialising or relaxing should be considered for a change of scenery and a shift in focus.
5. Tackle a New Challenge
Confidence and esteem are a pair of emotions that are specialised for battling stress. The last thing that you might want on your plate is something new to work towards, but it is in the results that the reward comes. As you achieve your goals, your confidence grows, and the impacts of stress are reduced. If the goal involves learning or improving, it automatically reduces the desire to approach the stressful situation passively.
6. Don’t Attempt to Tackle Stress with Bad Habits
It is common for those suffering from stress to reach for a beer or light up a cigarette in the most stressful times. this is known as avoidance behaviour. Habits such as these can provide a brief respite from stressful issues but are not conducive to tackling the root cause and when all is said and done, the problem will not have got any better – and could potentially have been made worse.
7. Offer Assistance to Others
It may sound tricky to help others when you are having trouble helping yourself, but the sense of wellbeing that comes from being of use vastly outweighs the temporary improvements afforded by the bad habits covered above. It can be massively beneficial to help those with bigger issues than you, as this will help you to gain a sense of perspective on the cause of your personal stress.
8. Hard Work Helps, But Smart Work is Better
Good time management and organisation skills can counter stress almost as a by-product. If the sheer number of tasks on your to-do list is the source of your negative feelings, then a few minutes prioritising them can make all the difference. Getting the tough ones out of the way first will allow you to tackle the others with more freedom and in a far less stressful environment. There is also nothing wrong with leaving some tasks for another time – most inboxes are never empty, and yours does not need to be either.
9. Take a Positive Approach
Dwelling on things that are not going your way is an easy way to build stress levels and, if possible, adopting a positive approach will let your brain take things easy. If you can frame stressful situations in a way where the glass is half full rather than half empty, your mental state will be far more conducive to finding a way through the issue.
10. Accept that Some Things are Outside your Control
We have covered tips on tackling stressful situations and dealing with the root cause. This all relies on working out what that cause is, but it is important to consider that sometimes, things will not go your way. The worst thing you can do when there literally is nothing you can do is to dwell on it – the time spent being angry and stressed will automatically achieve nothing at all, and it is far more useful to divert those efforts towards something productive.