This week The Times newspaper ran an article about a survery commissioned by the Samaritans, which confirmed that Britain was one of the most stressed nations in Europe. It showed that 20% of Britons felt 'their life was out of control'. Today's blog talks briefly about some of the basics when dealing with stress.
The following offers a set of general tools:
• Take time out from stress, this will prevent unhealthy obsessing.
• Get a good nights sleep.
• Never be afraid to ask for help or advice, the chances are someone else will have faced a similar task.
• Think what you would advise someone else in the situation; we are often good at solving other peoples problems, so why not use your own advice?
• Confide in someone and remember the old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.
• Stop beating your self up. Everyone makes mistakes.
• Avoid imagining that the problem is worse than it actually is.
• Divide tasks into chunks – take each source of stress in turn and think of three ways of increasing your control, even if this is to a very tiny extent.
The final point about gaining control of the stressful situation is perhaps highlighted by a famous psychology stress study, when participants were asked to work on a task that demanded a lot of concentration. The task was made even more difficult by adding a level of background distraction noise whilst trying to complete the task. This induced a stressed feeling in the volunteers. Then they were told that they could switch off the background noise if they wanted to, by pressing a button. Their stress levels immediately dropped simply knowing that they could push the button if they wanted to, even though they hardly ever did. This shows that stress may partly be due to the work demands made on you, but it's also due to the stress you put on yourself. When you gain a sense of control or even potential control over this, it can be a great stress antidote. Hence, taking even small steps to increase your control over a stressful task, can really help reduce the overall stress level.