From the elderly to even young children, it seems that everyone deals with stress nowadays. Stress is our body’s (and mind’s) way of telling us that something has upset our normal equilibrium. At times stress is not a bad thing as it may motivate us to succeed but sometimes, stress can affect us in a negative way.

  1. A good way to start for many people is to eliminate artificial stress reducers, like alcohol or smoking which are detrimental to our health and beauty and only temporarily alleviate our stress symptoms without treating the cause.
  2. Eat a well-balanced diet which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as foods which are high in complex carbohydrates. An ideal diet also has moderate amounts of protein while remaining low in fat.
  3. Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine (coffee, black/red tea, soft drinks with caffeine, etc.) which could increase your anxiety and even cause palpitations. Don’t drink coffee after 6pm.
  4. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress and improve your overall quality of life. Walk or do whatever exercise you feel comfortable with. You may prefer to join a fitness club. Be sure to exercise regularly. Don't concern yourself with your family or work while you are working out; this is your time and don't let anyone or anything interfere.
  5. Go outdoors whenever possible. A little sunshine and activity can do you a world of good and enhance your entire life outlook.
  6. Think positive. For each negative thought you have, try to counter it with something positive. Always look for that silver lining.
  7. Be a 'kid' sometimes. Do what you enjoyed doing when you were a child. Draw, paint, dance, read, play music, even play with play-dough. Express yourself without worrying about maintaining the image of who you are 'supposed' to be. Just relax and enjoy yourself. We all have a little child in us and it's a good idea to allow that child within to come out and play from time to time.
  8. Get yourself an adult colouring book and colour away your stress! Colouring is not just for kids. Try colouring books like The Enchanted Forest, Secret Garden, The Mindfulness Colouring Book or challenge yourself and try the “1000 Dot-to-Dot” series which combines dot-to-dot and colouring. There are even colouring clubs for adults.
  9. Set realistic goals for yourself. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals. For example, if you are dieting, realise that you cannot lose 10kg in one month. Allow for sufficient time to reach your goals and acknowledge that occasional setbacks may occur. Avoid expectations altogether if you can; expectations and reality are often two entirely different things.
  10. Learn to manage your time well. Time management is essential when you have to juggle numerous projects or roles. Always give yourself sufficient time to accomplish your tasks.
  11. Learn that it is OK to say 'no' occasionally. Very often, we feel we have to say 'yes' to everyone, every time we are asked for help. Remember, you cannot be all things to all people. You must first meet your own needs before you can truly give others what they need.
  12. Make time for yourself. You have to be on top of your priority list. Attend to your own needs first. Once they are met you will find that you may have more time for others. You may find more pleasure in helping others when you don't feel that you must always put others’ needs before your own.
  13. Have a “Me” day once in a while. Take a day off from work and just spend the day doing what you want to do. Let yourself recharge. This also helps to ensure you don’t lose yourself in the hustle and bustle of life.
  14. Pamper yourself. Book a massage or a spa treatment. Indulge your senses to better manage your stress.
  15. Aromatherapy can be of tremendous help. Try using five or six drops of lavender, bergamot, ylang-ylang or geranium essential oil in a warm bath, or put two or three drops on a cloth and inhale from time to time during the day. You can also use a few drops on your pillow to help you to sleep better.
  16. Adopt good sleep habits. Make sure you go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day. Avoid very stimulating games and take a warm shower before bedtime to help you relax. Try to resolve arguments before bedtime. If possible, only bring up issues during daytime.
  17. When you are facing an unpleasant situation, take a deep breath and count to ten before saying or doing anything. Taking a deliberate pause can have a calming effect, and allow you extra time to reassess the situation before taking possibly regrettable actions on impulse.
  18. Practice deep breathing exercises. Imagine your stomach like a balloon, and inhale deeply and slowly, inflating that balloon. As you slowly exhale, think of the word “relax” and let it permeate your entire being, from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. Let your stress be “released” from your feet.
  19. Try Mindfulness Meditation. Meditation has been fast gaining momentum and practiced by many people to help not just relax their mind but most importantly, centre and ground them. In other words, being focused in the moment, which is the present or NOW!
  20. Laughter is the best medicine. Listen to some humorous podcasts, watch some comedies or even short YouTube clips at the end of the day on your commute home. According to Mayo Clinic, laughter has both short term (stimulates organs, releases endorphins, eases tension) and long term (improve mood and immune system) benefits. So have a good belly-rollicking laugh!

Eliminating the biggest sources of stress and learning to manage the rest will help you have a positive outlook towards life, which will have a positive trickling effect on your family and friends. With better stress management techniques, things which seem overwhelming will soon become trivial. You will be healthier, happier, and more energetic; ready to face whatever obstacles come your way.

Ref: Q15