Stress is a part of every day life; it’s normal. However, too much stress can have a negative impact on us.
So, I’m going to give you my 10 top tips to cope with stress.
These tips aren’t about getting rid of stress completely, as that’s not realistic. What these tips will do is give you ideas of how to build your resilience to stress.
This will help you cope with stress better in the long term.
10 top tips to cope with stress
1. Get better quality sleep
Sleep is really important to help the body and mind recover from daily stressors. Sleep also helps us recover from the stressors placed on our body through exercise.
It might be that you don’t get enough hours’ sleep, or perhaps you wake a few times in the night.
Either way, a lack of sleep in the long term can lead to increased anxiety, irritability, and even depression.
It could also lead to physical health problems. For example, when you’re tired and you exercise you might be more at risk of injury.
Other ways to help your sleep quality are to try to avoid caffeine a few hours’ before you go to bed. This can affect the quality of your sleep.
Another way is to try to wind down from using electronic devices such as laptops and phones. They emit a blue light which can keep us awake.
Or, there are apps out there which dim the light on your devices so this could help.
2. Follow a balanced diet
I’m an advocate for the 80/20 rule when it comes to the foods we eat.
Aim to make up 80% of your diet with nutrient-dense foods. The remaining 20% can come from the ‘naughty’ stuff like cakes, biscuits, and crisps.
The food we put in our mouths is important. Better quality food enables our bodies to function better and can therefore reduce the effects of stress.
Equally, it’s important to eat a variety of foods. No food is ‘good’ and no food is ‘bad’. Not allowing ourselves certain foods because we perceive them as ‘bad’ can lead to stress.
Restricting certain foods can lead to disordered eating or eating disorders. Make sure you allow yourself all types of foods, without guilt or judgement.
3. Be mindful of your caffeine consumption
As mentioned above, caffeine can affect the quality of your sleep if taken too near to bedtime.
Caffeine can also trigger symptoms in the body which mimic anxiety and place your body under undue stress.
If you have caffeine and feel like you’re getting anxious it might actually be the caffeine.
Try reducing your caffeine intake and see how you feel.
4. Avoid drinking alcohol to excess
Alcohol is a depressant and could therefore lead to you feeling worse if drunk to excess. People often report that when they drink too much they feel anxious the next day.
Not only that, if you don’t remember the whole night this might create stress. You might be worrying whether you offended anyone or embarrassed yourself!
Whilst it might be nice to have a drink and socialise with others, if you know alcohol impacts on your mental health try not to drink too much.
5. Avoid drugs
Some people use drugs to help them cope with stress. No judgement here, it’s just a fact that some people do.
Whilst this might help in the short-term it can potentially have a negative impact on your mental health over the long term.
Rather than relying on substances to help settle your stress, try to use some of the other tips to cope with stress listed here.
If you want support to help reduce or stop your drug use then think about going your local GP to see if they can refer you for support.
6. Exercise regularly
Exercise is a great way to de-stress. Just make sure it’s something you genuinely enjoy rather than something you feel you should do.
You can check out the mental benefits for exercise in my post here.
Also remember that exercise is a stressor on the body, so make sure you take some rest days during the week to help your body and mind recover.
7. Spend time with people you like being around
If you enjoy spending time with friends then try to make more time to do this.
Having social support from people you trust means you can talk to them if you’re finding things difficult. Find people who are supportive of you, and avoid those who only bring negativity to your life.
Quality is definitely better than quantity. You don’t need a huge social network to benefit from it.
8. Make more time for the things you enjoy
This might be things like exercise, meditation, yoga, countryside walks.
We’re often so busy and focused on “doing” that we forget to make time for the things which bring us pleasure.
Whatever you do, make sure it brings you joy and leaves you feeling refreshed.
9. Learn to manage your time better
Another way to reduce stress is to manage your time better.
This might mean setting yourself reminders on your phone, or writing notes for yourself in a diary or notebook.
I use the calendar on my phone all the time to set myself reminders. Even if it’s picking up groceries or making sure I reply to an email. Once I put it in my phone I can forget about it until the reminder pops up.
Trying to hold everything in your mind can be stressful when you have so many other things to do. So, having visual reminders can be really helpful.
10. Get used to saying “no”
I can be bad at this one!
Sometimes I take on too much at work. I can just about cope with it, but it causes me more stress. Or, I’ll offer to do things for other people when I really don’t have the time.
The danger is, the more you say “yes” the more people may expect from you.
Don’t neglect your needs for the sake of other people’s. Start to say “no” as part of your self-care.
I hope this post has given you some useful tips to cope with stress. Do you have any tips not listed here? Let me know in the comments!