Smiling is the first line of defence against stress. It’s quick, easy, and free! When you smile your body releases feel-good hormones, while the stress hormone, cortisol, is reduced. Smiling helps you feel calm and in control. It lowers your blood pressure and makes you feel good about yourself. Does fake smile work as well? I try to smile as much as I can, but sometimes it's just impossible.
As well as its undoubted benefits for your general health, exercise is highly effective in reducing stress. It improves blood-flow to the brain, helping you think more clearly. Exercise is also another great way to release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and feel-good hormones. There is also evidence that fit people are better able to handle the long-term effects of stress. So the feel-good hormones are in fact endorphins? Good to know. I've missed gym twice this week already. Since I'm not a fit person, I have a good excuse to freak out when I am stressed.
3. Get enough rest and sleep
Taking a rest isn’t only about not doing anything. A rest from work can mean putting the emphasis on what you do in your leisure time – hobbies, holidays, sport – to counterbalance work or everyday stress. And we all need sleep for energy, good concentration and general health. Chronic sleep-deprivation can affect your performance at work, which can be a key factor in raising stress levels. My friend Guilherme should read this. At least the sleeping part I'm doing - I try to sleep AT LEAST 8 hours per night; 12 is the ideal, but then they call it depression.
4. Positive thinking
Changing your thoughts is not as difficult as you think. Try to adopt an outlook on life that stops you seeing external events as determining your happiness. Instead, see your thoughts as the determiner of your happiness. It takes practice, but if you can do this you’ll reduce the negative tension that leads to much of the stress in your life. a.k.a. Pollyana.
5. Reach out to others
When you need to reduce the pressure in your life, you can’t always do it on your own. Everyone should have a support network of friends, family, co-workers and other people they can call on to help take the strain - whether it’s practical help or a sympathetic ear when you feel down. Help me if you can I feeling doooooown. Yeah, I cried for help and now we have a cleaner once a week. The best investment ever!
6. Achieve a good work-life balance
Don’t let work dominate your life. No matter how ambitious you are, it’s important to make time for relaxation and fun. That might mean reducing the number of hours you work, or changing to a job that’s closer to home so your commuting time is reduced. Use time management techniques to ensure you’re more productive during your normal working hours, rather than continually staying late at the office. With London's weather is a bit hard, but we keep trying. By the way did I tell you that I used the roller blades (once)?
A good relaxation technique is an anti-stress weapon that you always carry with you, to help you deal with any stressful situation as it arises. Make relaxation a regular part of your daily routine. There are so many relaxation techniques, from deep-breathing and visualization to meditation and self-hypnosis. Find one that works for you – check out the many books, CDs and DVDs that can help. I find relaxation techniques very stressful. Am I sick?
8. Eat a healthy diet
A balanced diet that delivers all the nutrients your body needs to function at its optimum level is essential for dealing with stressful situations. And cutting back on stimulants like caffeine and sugar and depressants like alcohol and nicotine will keep your blood sugar levels constant and help you to avoid mood swings. I'm trying, I'm trying! :-(
Make sure you get and give your fair share of hugs. Not only does hugging feel good, it has been proven to help reduce the stress level, cortisone. Oh, I love hugging and being hugged. It's sooooo good. Doesn't happen that often though; nobody loves me. :-(
10. Seek professional help if you need it
If you feel that despite all your efforts stress is getting the better of you, there are lots of people who can help. The International Stress Management Association provides referrals to stress management. In London? I wonder if there is someone that brave...