Coping with everyday stress
Everyone experiences stress from time to time. It is common in daily life, stress can be positive and negative. Positive stress is generally short-term and can be healthy as it motivates and helps prepare us for challenges in life. Positive stress is generally something that we feel we can cope with.
However, when our stress levels are perceived as outside of our ability to cope, are high or continue over a long period of time, it can affect our mental health and wellbeing, as well as making you feel physically unwell.
Everyone experiences and responds to stress differently. It can be useful to be aware of the warning signs that you are becoming stressed and learn to recognise what triggers a negative stress reaction. This can help you to cope more effectively with daily stressors and prevent them from leading to mental health issues1.
Many things can trigger negative stress; and this can be different for everyone. However, the good news is that there are a number of simple things you can do to help reduce or manage negative stress.
- Identify what triggers stress: If you know what your triggers are, you can prepare for them. Examples of triggers for stress may include deadlines, relationships or seeing a particular person, lack of sleep, money, work, exams etc. Try calming techniques, writing down your thoughts or if you can, change/avoid/remove them.
- Be aware of the warning signs: Everyone has different warning signs that indicate they may be starting to feel unhealthily stressed. These may include tensing your jaw, grinding your teeth, getting headaches, or feeling irritable and short tempered.
- Establish a routine that suits you: Having routines in your day or week, such as regular times for exercise, relaxation, meal times, visiting friends, waking in the morning and going to bed at consistent times etc. Once this becomes your normal routine, it’s easier to accomplish everything because it becomes a good habit3.
- Looking after your health and wellbeing: Eating well, exercising, getting a good night’s sleep, avoiding or reducing alcohol and other drug use, taking time out for yourself, spending time with friends, loved ones, and people you trust, relaxing and doing activities you enjoy or practising mindfulness may all help you to reduce or cope with stress.
- Find support: Getting support from people you trust can make a difference. Often it is hard for people to talk about what is really going-on, but starting the conversation with someone you trust may help.
yourmentalhealth.ie [Internet]. Ireland: c2017. Stress [cited Oct 2017]. Available from: http://www.yourmentalhealth.ie/about-mental-health/common-problems/mental-health-problems/stress/
Australian Psychological Society [Internet]. Melbourne (Australia): Australian Psychological Society; c2017. Stress and wellbeing [cited 2017 Oct]. Available from: http://www.psychology.org.au/public/topics/stress-and-wellbeing/
Headspace [Internet]. Australia: Headspace Inc; c2017. The secret benefit of routines. It won't surprise you. [cited 2017 Oct]. Available from: https://www.headspace.com/blog/2016/08/22/the-secret-benefit-of-routines-it-wont-surprise-you/