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"I can't cope!" Techniques to get your stress under control

Updated: Jan 24

High levels of stress can be 'ageing' because it effects our ability to stay healthy and happy. For instance, stress can disrupt sleep and get us reaching for alcohol or "comfort food". Longer term, it can change our hormonal responses in dangerous ways including increased risk of low mood and depression, and the preferential laying down of fat around your waist area which is associated with diabetes and increased risk of heart attack.

In this article we look at techniques to help you take action and get you back under control.

Technique 1: Create a plan and act on it

The largest contributor to stress is not the actual situation but the feeling of having no control. So, when you are feeling stressed it really helps to calmly work through what the actual issue is and what your response will be to get back into control.

The technique: Take a pen and paper and write down:

  • What is the issue?

  • What is the cause?

  • What should I personally do to improve the situation and why?

  • When will I do this?

They key here is not only to plan what to do, but actually do it. Whenever possible, take action immediately, as it will make you feel back in control. However, if you can't act immediately, make sure you plan the time when you can and block time in your diary to ensure it happens.

Technique 2: Eating the elephant... one bite at a time

Stress often comes from feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things you have to do or the complexity of a situation.

However the saying "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time" is really true.

In all cases (stress related or not) the only way to achieve something big is to approach it in smaller pieces. Plus, the very process of starting to tackle an issue in a structured and planned way gives you the feeling of being control and starts to build confidence that you can indeed achieve what you want.

The technique: Take a pen and paper and write down:

  • What is the overall task

  • What are the steps that need to be taken to achieve it, and in what order

  • How long each task will take and the cost (if relevant)

  • When can you commit time (and money) to do each step

  • Create to do list and block diary time to complete step 1, and repeat with each step when you are ready

  • As you complete each step, celebrate knowing you are one step closer to achieving your goal

Technique 3: "String it"