Top Ten Tips on...

Releasing Stress Sensibly

19 June 2022
Effective Top Tens - Podcast
Quick, practical tips on a wide range of management and personal development themes.
We're all human, and therefore likely at some point to get stressed. Here are 10 suggestions for releasing that stress sensibly...

you'll like these tips if you're interested in...


talk it through

talk through how you're feeling in a mature and adult way, that respects and protects the other person. Don't dump or explode all over somebody – at least not without permission. It can be horrible for the other person because they can see your pain, but they also don't like to be treated in that way.


it’s ok to vent – safely

if you are the kind of person who does need to explode, to get it off your chest and let off steam, then that’s fine. It’s cathartic, and healthy to get the stress out of your system. But the key tip here is do it in a safe place and a private place so that nothing else, and no one else gets damaged. And of course that includes no damage to you.


kill the cause

stress has to have a cause. We're not naturally stressed people, something triggers the stress. So one of the best ways of dealing with stress is to work out where this has come from. It may not be possible to work that out whilst you're stressed, but as soon as you’ve got rid of the stress, think back. Where did that come from? Because if you can stop the cause, you will automatically stop any effect.


use a programme interrupt

as you start to feel yourself becoming stressed, divert yourself with what we call a program interrupt. Once you're starting to get hooked on being stressed, you're in a particular pattern or programme. So if you don't like that programme, and want to deal with stress in the way you're about to deal with it, devise for yourself, a programme interrupt, something that will stop you and get you to move onto a more constructive, alternative programme. For example, if I am getting stressed, and following an unhelpful programme, then I’ve learned to flash a neon sign saying ‘stop!’ into my head, and, as a result, remind myself to invest in a 5 step problem-solving programme: what’s the problem; why is it a problem; what are my options; which do I prefer; do it. So I'm replacing one pattern, getting stressed, with another pattern, which is problem solving. And whilst I'm dealing with that, that process of thinking through the problem and trying to solve it, I actually stop getting stressed and worried because I'm doing something constructive with my energy rather than destructive.


use exercise - move

release the stress you're feeling through exercise. This doesn’t mean joining or going to a gym. There are lots of ways in which you can release stress through exercise. You can go for a walk, you can take the stairs instead of the lift, you can go for walk around the building or into town or the park every lunchtime You could do a body shakedown.


laugh a lot

one of the great releases of stress is to laugh, and here are two suggestions. The first is to always have something in mind or available perhaps on your iPhone, perhaps on your computer that will make you smile or laugh. It's a form of programme interrupt mentioned earlier, it stops you dwelling on the negative of stress and helps you release the stress, by creating and releasing a different set of chemicals. Pretty much everybody feels better having had a good laugh. The second suggestion is to get a humorous perspective on whatever it is that's getting you stressed. In the big scheme of things, how are significant is what you're worrying about today. Sometimes you can smile at yourself for the state you're getting into over. When you look back at it tomorrow will it seem to be nothing or trivial. So just take a better perspective on what you're feeling and see if you can minimize it and push it away from you, so it's really small, insignificant, laughable.


meditate or be mindful

meditation isn't everybody's cup of tea, but it really is helpful for some people to just put yourself into a quiet place, a restful place and meditate. And if you're not a fan, then consider mindfulness. There's a lot of information now on the internet about mindfulness, and how to practice it, and you don't need long and you don't need any equipment. You just need to be able to alter your state, in the way in which you approach thinking about things. If you've not tried either and you tend to get stressed, give it a shot.


mental mastery 1: think consequence

in order for you to become stressed, the command has to come from your head, from your mind. The body reacts only when it's been given the instruction from the head, if you like from the headquarters, to get stressed. So the first tip of mental mastery is to think about the consequences of what will follow If you get stressed. What will the consequences be? So think now, when you're not stressed, what are some of the consequences of getting stressed? You perhaps don't perform as well as you would ordinarily you get more easily distracted. You can't concentrate as much. You get tired. So sometimes. It's useful to put your mind into consequence mode rather than here and now mode - future mode. If you like, rather than present mode to just have a think about what the consequences of getting stressed will be. If I don't want those things to happen, maybe it's a good idea not to get stressed. That gives you a kind of incentive for not being stressed and working out what you can do to prevent getting stressed in the first place?


mental mastery 2: reframe

often when you're stressed it's because something negative is in your head. Something you're worried about, something you have framed as negative. So this tip is to reframe from negative to positive. So whilst I might at the moment, be thinking negatively about a circumstance and that is making me stressed, what might happen in this circumstance that could be positive? For example, some people will get stressed about a change in working conditions, and will dwell on that because they fear the worse; however, we don't know if the changing working conditions will actually be better or worse. We just don't know. Maybe it would be better to wait and find out. And I still have the job and a lot of people don't have jobs and I still find it easy enough to commute, to work. And I have a loving and a caring family and so on and so on. Just accentuate the positives as the song says, rather than dwell on potential negatives. The danger is that you are stressed because you are anticipating and accentuating future potential negatives. The reframe acknowledges actual current positives. So when you get stressed, you're often trading future potential negatives for the actual current positives,


what works, works

we're all unique. We're all individual. And what works as a stress management tool for one person may be completely useless for somebody else. So find out what works best for you. Make a conscious choice every time that if, and when you're getting stressed, you will choose the best response for you.

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