Getting stress under control

Do your day-to-day stresses sometimes get you down? When stress starts to make you unhappy and unable to handle everyday situations, it’s important to take notice. Try our tips to help you stress less, and if you have ongoing stress, seek help from a qualified professional.

Breathe

When you feel stressed, try to take a moment to stop and take a breath. This simple action can help put your thoughts into perspective. Take a minute to think about your priorities, what is and isn’t in your control and concentrate on the things you can change.

Know your triggers

We all have certain ‘triggers’ that tend to make us stress more. These can include lack of sleep or being over-tired, feeling lonely, being hungry or not having eaten enough nourishing food. Know what your triggers are and find ways to remove or reduce them.

Look after yourself

Eating well, drinking lots of water, exercising, getting good sleep and enough sunshine are key to helping manage stress. Avoid using alchohol, tobacco or other drugs to cope. 

Stick to a routine

Having a regular routine can help you to reduce stress. Try to stick to the same times for going to bed and waking up, meals and exercise. It's also a good idea to schedule a regular time to relax – even if it's only 15 minutes.

Did you know?
The Drugiem Group, a social networking company, conducted an experiment on their employees using the time-tracking productivity app DeskTime. They found that employees who had the highest productivity and the least stress took regular breaks - 17 minutes for every 52 minutes of work.

Stay connected

Connecting with a network of loved ones, if you can, can help keep you grounded in what’s important in life, making you feel happier and more productive. Spending time with friends and family will also give you a chance to share your feelings of stress and anxiety with people you trust.

Join a club

Meeting regularly with social, sports and creative clubs or a church group can also help to bust your stress and connect you with your core values and sense of purpose. Dan Buettner, author of the Blue Zones and Thrive, says joining a group that meets just once a month can have the same positive effect on your happiness as doubling your salary!

Work satisfaction

Most of us spend more than half our waking hours at work and this can be a source of stress. While not all of us are lucky enough to have the perfect job, if you can, try to find something in your day that you do enjoy and focus on it. Sometimes that may just be the feeling of satisfaction that comes from compleing a task.

If work stress is overwhelming you, schedule a time to talk with your boss to see if anything can be done. And remember not to skip your holiday leave. Taking a break from work can ease the stress and help to put your priorities in perspective.

Budget

Finances can cause a lot of stress. It may help to regularly draw up a budget with your weekly income, bills and expenses to help keep on top of your spending.

Seek help

The tips above relate to getting day-to-day stress under control, which is important as studies link chronic stress to a serious range of health issues including clinical depression, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

If stress is overwhelming you it's important to seek help from a qualified health professional.

Where you can get support

New Zealand

Lifeline New Zealand

  • A 24-hour counselling, suicide prevention and mental health support service.
  • Telephone: 0800 543 354 (New Zealand)

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand

  • A New Zealand charitable organisation that promotes mental health and supports individuals and communities by providing relevant information, programs and contacts.

Depression Helpline

  • Is part of New Zealand’s national public health campaign, the National Depression Initiative. Provides help and resources for those experiencing anxiety and depression.
  • Telephone: 0800 111 757

The Low Down

  • Provides information and support to young New Zealanders struggling with anxiety and depression.

References

  1. The Muse. The rule of 52 and 17: its random, but it ups your productivity. [Internet] 2016 [cited 2016 June 16]; available from: https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-rule-of-52-and-17-its-random-but-it-ups-your-productivity

  2. Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Miller GE. Psychological stress and disease. J Am Med Assoc 2007;298(14):1685-1687.

  3. Blue Zones. Lessons in Thriving. [Internet] 2014 [cited 2016 May 11]; available from: https://www.bluezones.com/page_section/thrive-centers/

  4. Buettner D. The Blue Zones: 9 lessons for living longer from the people who’ve lived the longest. 2nd ed. USA: National Geographic; 2012.

  5. Buettner D. Thrive: finding happiness the Blue Zones way. USA: National Geographic; 2011.

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