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How To Manage Stress Like A Pro

Stress is not always a bad thing. Too little of it and you can’t meet the challenges of everyday life, but too much of it can be overwhelming. You can respond best to stress by knowing more about it, and coaching yourself into the optimal stress zone. Dr Aaron Balick gives us his tips for handling stress like a pro.

Stress cannot be avoided in life, so it’s what you do with it that counts
Dr Aaron

1. Be aware of what stresses you out the most

According to some studies, the top stressors for young people include:

For adults, they may be the following:

  • Death in the family
  • Divorce or breakup
  • Moving house
  • Major illness
  • Loss of a job

With that in mind...

2. Prepare for stressful situations before symptoms arise

Taking extra care of yourself can make upcoming stressful situations more manageable. Things to think about are:

  • Make sure you're eating well, sleeping well, and drinking enough water.
  • Schedule in breaks to collect yourself by resting, taking walks in the park or listening to calming music.
  • Identify what's stressing you out and think about getting support from an adult you trust. They can help you break down any tasks into smaller pieces.
  • Remind yourself that you can cope - instead of telling yourself horror stories about the future.
  • In the moments when you’re feeling wound up, sit down, close your eyes, breathe deeply and calm yourself down. It's good to acknowledge to yourself that it’s difficult, but also emphasise that you will get through it.

3. Know what your symptoms are when you're over-stressed

Being aware of how you're feeling is the first step to managing it. Although everyone is different, some of the major signs are:

  • Feeling irritable and on edge
  • Feeling anxious, forgetting to eat, loss of concentration and sleep problems
  • Bad habits like increased smoking, drug use, or alcohol consumption. Or maybe other things like nail biting, eating junk food, or not eating at all
  • Being over-sensitive to criticism
  • Physical symptoms like stomach aches, headaches, constipation or diarrhoea

4. Having these symptoms? It’s time to try and calm down!

  • Take control by taking some time out. Step back from the situation for a bit.
  • Get support from friends and loved ones. You don't have to go through it alone!
  • Get back to basics: sleep, good food, lots of water, and regular exercise.
  • Try meditation.
  • Try to accept the things you can’t change, and see what you can do to improve the things you can.
  • If it’s really bad, you may need to get a doctor’s note and have some time off work or school.

5. Remember...

Stress cannot be avoided in life, so it’s what you do with it that counts. Don’t wait until it takes over completely as things will feel much worse. Monitor yourself, take care of yourself, take it slowly, and behave like a supportive friend to yourself rather than giving yourself a hard time.

Check out our Stress & Anxiety factfile for more.