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Psychotherapist  |  Robbie Psychologist

5 Tips for Managing Stress

Chad Prinsloo | Web Designer

Robbie Pearman  |  Psychologist  |  Johannesburg

June 23 2020

We all experience stress from time to time, and in different ways. Moments of day-to-day stress is a normal part of life. In short bursts, stress can help us raise our performance and focus for a period of time. However, stress that becomes more of an ever-present feeling instead of an occasional occurrence, can limit you from feeling and performing at your everyday best, emotionally, physically, and mentally.

Knowing how to manage stress in your life can improve your mental wellbeing and outlook on your life. Consider these 5 stress management tips next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

Managing Stress Tip 1 – Identify your sources of stress and take corrective action

Managing stress starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This takes some honest self-reflecting. Many times our habits and behaviours are promoting feelings of stress. Coming up with practical alternatives to these stress-inducing habits can be very useful. For example, if driving yourself to work and dealing with the chaotic and unpredictable traffic leaves you feeling frustrated and on edge, consider changing this daily routine. Options could be; using the Gautrain or other public transport, using Uber, or carpooling. Some of these options might save you money, others might require a bit more, but consider what would be the value of a less stressed person arriving at work? Think about other aspects of your life were this logic might apply and make some changes.

Managing Stress Tip 2 – Find time for regular exercise

Exercise has proven itself to be a universally helpful solution to alleviating things like stress and anxiety, and drastically improve our mood. Having lower levels of stress and an improved outlook towards life changes how productive we can be, how effectively we interact with people, and how successfully we are able to respond to future challenges. The amount of exercise we need to start experiencing these benefits is shockingly low. So even just starting with a five-minute walk during a lunch break can already bring about some improvements in stress levels and mental wellbeing in general.

Managing Stress Tip 3 – Establish routines

Planning some of the more important parts of your day in advance can add consistency and structure to our days and weeks. When we are stressed and overwhelmed things feel chaotic, and it can be very calming and reassuring to know that some things are consistent and under our control on a daily basis in our lives. Important things to consistently plan for over the course of a week are:

• Regular times for exercise
• Regular mealtimes, waking and bedtimes
• Regular times for relaxation and leisure activities
• Social interaction with visits to family and friends

Scheduling and then achieving these things help create a feeling of accomplishment, in addition to the inherent well-being that comes from these activities.

Managing Stress Tip 4 – Take notice of how you talk to yourself and challenge negative thoughts

If you are constantly thinking negatively, the only natural response will be you’re going to feel stressed or anxious. This unhelpful self-talk might include things like: ‘I can’t handle this’, or ‘I’m too busy right now’, or ‘I don’t have the energy’, or ‘life’s not fair’. While we might think that these are fairly truthful descriptions of what’s going on, they are not always helpful to repeat and can put you in a negative frame of mind.

Instead, try reframing these feelings in order to promote a more optimistic perspective on things. Use more helpful self-talk like ‘I’m coping well given what’s on my plate’, or ‘even though things are overwhelming right now, what’s one thing I can get done in the next few minutes’. By doing this, you might be surprised by how slightly more hopeful you start to become about the possibility of coping and getting through a tough period.

Managing Stress Tip 5: Speak to a Counselling Psychologist

When you cannot get yourself out of a period of extended stress into workable long-term solutions, it is useful to seek advice from a professional. Having a skilled practitioner work with you to help you develop these solutions can take the burden off you have to find all the answers when you seem to be running out of patience and resolve. Consider speaking to a mental health practitioner and getting the support you need to get control of stress in your life and allow you to start living a better life.

I’m a Counselling Psychologist situated in Randburg, in close proximity to the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, such as Rosebank and Sandton.

I work with individuals, couples, families and small groups to address current challenges with a solution-focused approach. These challenges may include some more common complaints such as depression, and anxiety, or those trying to come to terms with trauma or bereavement.

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