In most circumstances we can cope with the every day stresses of life. However, stress can become a problem when stress builds up over a long period of time or a period of major stress occurs which we may find difficult to deal with. It is important that every individual develops some healthy coping strategies as long periods of increased stress can lead to ill health, tiredness, lack of enthusiasm or interest, lack of energy, poor concentration and heightened anxiety.

How to cope when feeling under stress

  • Learn to recognise when you are feeling under stress. Learn to take time out each day to relax, listening to music, or just sit quietly thinking about something which makes you feel relaxed, lying on a beach, walking through the countryside - whatever conjures up a relaxing picture in your mind.

  • If stress is due to work or household duties building up - make a list of things you need to do - putting the most important first - and try and do a few things on the list each day ticking them off when they are complete.

  • Keep your house, flat, room, office etc. clean and tidy - if you have loads of papers, washing up, clothes etc. building up it will make you feel more under pressure.

  • Try to avoid nicotine, alcohol, too much caffeine in coffee, fizzy drinks etc.

  • Take regular exercise. Try and build this into your daily routine - any physical activity will help you to work off the stress and feel a lot better afterwards - a walk round the block, walk through the park, go for a jog, get an exercise video, get a skipping rope, dance, yoga, tai chi, play a sport, - whatever you enjoy doing - even if its only 10 minutes a day.

  • Try and go to bed and get up at a regular time. It is important to get a good night's sleep.

  • Don't skip meals or over eat. Try and eat healthily - little and often. If you need to treat yourself do this at weekends.

  • Try and keep active - maybe try out a new hobby or interest that you will enjoy and also will help in meeting other people and maybe making new friends.

  • Learn to say no - if you are feeling under increased stress it is important to put yourself first and take time out when you need it. Don't allow family and friends to pressure you into doing something you don't want to do or don't have time to do as this will all add to the stress. It is okay to say to people you need some time out for yourself.

  • Try to get fresh air every day.

  • Don't expect too much of yourself. Don't give yourself a hard time if you cannot cope as well as you normally can and if you can't do as much as you normally can - take time out when you need it.

  • Try to keep thinking in a positive frame of mind that you will get through this period of stress. Negative thinking will only add to the stress.

  • Talk to someone about how you are feeling - family, friends, counsellor, helpline etc. Sometimes stress can build up due to continual worry about problems - it really helps to talk about your feelings to someone - if you bottle everything up inside you it can lead to stress.

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Agencies which can provide help and support

  • SupportLine Telephone Helpline: 01708 765200, email info@supportline.org.uk - Emotional support and information on counsellors and support groups throughout UK.

  • International Stress Management Association:
    To provide information about all aspects of stress management. Also run conferences and workshops.

  • Stress Management Society
    0203 142 8650

    Information, advice on stress management, workshops

Useful Websites

  • www.beaumont.ie
    Click on Departments at top of page and scroll down to: Mindfulness and Relaxation Centre at Beaumont Hospital - relaxation and mindfulness training are helpful for managing stress as well as helping people cope with physical illness and ongoing medical treatment. (with thanks to the Psychology Department at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin)

  • www.ehow.com – put Stress in the search bar on home page

  • www.getselfhelp.co.uk – information and resources relating to stress

  • www.helpguide.org
    See A to Z tab at top for Stress

  • www.mindingyourhead.info
    Information relating to mental health, depression, stress and anxiety

  • www.surgerydoor.co.uk - Click on 'medical conditions', click on 'mental health' then Stress for general information and also Stress Self Help Guide

  • www.wikihow.com
    Put at top in search bar - How To Deal With Stress

Useful book

The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, Matthew McKay - Publishers New Harbinger Publications: ISBN 1572242140
Click here to read more or buy this book

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