Stress expert Marie-Louise Devitt is a coach at mentaline.com, the world’s first webcam-based counselling service - it provides quick, easy access to therapists, psychologists and life coaches along with free access to the support forums, in which professionals and other users are active and offering advice. Here are her top five ways to reduce stress
Active Stress Awareness
One of the keys to addressing and reducing your stress levels is actually being aware of your daily stress levels and aware of what your stress triggers are. You need to be proactive about your stress, in the sense that you don’t let it control you. Instead, take control of it and regularly do a stress test (Holmes and Rahe Stress Test Scale). Identify and be aware of what your stress triggers may be and avoid them at all costs.
Knowing when to step out of that stress zone
Being aware of when you are overly stressed is crucial. You need to develop a better awareness of how you feel in stressful situations; emotionally, mentally and physically. Once you get to know your warning signs, it then becomes easier to create a plan of how to deal with stressful situations and, if in doubt about how you will cope, step away from the stress zone.
Create your own "stressed out support system"
Another good way to deal with stressful situations is to create your own "stressed-out support system" which you can make use of on a regular (weekly) basis. This system can include meeting with a supportive friend to talk about how you are coping, giving yourself some regular "me" time, or doing something that you really enjoy with or without friends (it's your choice). If you still feel stressed, consider getting additional support from a professional counsellor or life coach, to help you understand and better cope with your stress levels.
Have a Laugh
Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins, and neurotransmitters. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. At a basic level, all this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress. Meet regularly with friends you can laugh with, or watch a funny film or comedy show. Whilst this may not help you forget about your stresses completely, it will lessen the effects that hectic situations have on you in an emotional, physical and mental sense.
Like the ad says "have a break, have a Kit Kat"
Be aware of your own needs and know when to give yourself a break. You may feel as though you can keep going at the same rate for the foreseeable future, but all the stress will catch up on you, so it’s vital you take some time out and distance yourself from your troubles occasionally. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you, as in the long run this will do more harm than good. It is important to remember that spoiling yourself isn’t selfish, it’s often much needed. Have a break and give yourself full permission to enjoy it, whilst committing to it whole heartedly.
Find out more about Marie-Louise Devitt at mentaline.com.
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