My favourite ways of coping with stress: a blog post for Mental Health Awareness Week

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We all have our own ways of coping when we get stressed and feel that we just can’t do whatever it is we are beating ourselves up about doing; ‘pass that exam’, ‘meet that deadline’, ‘tell someone something that we would rather not’ and many more.

For me, it is only recently that I have been able to acknowledge when I am becoming stressed and see it for what it is.  Now this may sound a simple thing to some but it means being aware of your thoughts and feelings and the triggers that lead to stress.  Only when I became aware of what was happening physically and emotionally could I take appropriate action.  

Those of you who know me know that I am a bit long in the tooth (!) and it has taken me a few years to sort myself out with regard to taking care of my own emotional health and wellbeing.  However, I think I have just about got it right now and ‘age’ does appear to give you that freedom of thought and speech that we yearn for when we are young.

So, in the hope that it won’t take you as long as it has me to work out how to manage your stress I would like to share my 10 favourite ways that I now cope with those scary thoughts and feelings. Hopefully you might find at least one of these strategies works for you too:

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  1. Walking, taking my dogs Rio and Brodie over the country park. Pets are a real stress buster and give back so much love and affection.
  2. Talking to my sister, sons or best friend who are great at calming me down and putting things into perspective.  (I must say that I do the same for them when they are feeling stressed!) Good relationships are a must in your life, so find that special person that you trust. You only need one great friend.
  3. Sleep. It’s a simple fact that if I don’t get enough sleep I am hopeless, I can’t concentrate and everything appears 100 times worse than it is.  Sleep helps you to repair yourself and I have often woken up with a solution to a problem.
  4. Eat Well. I can’t tell you how many times I have been on holiday in England with the typical diet of fish and chips when I have craved vegetables.  I have literally dragged my family into a restaurant and said “I need good food”.  My body is telling me that I am low in nutrients and I need to top up.
  5. Have some fun. This is a great stress buster and I don’t think any of us have enough fun.  Find something you enjoy doing and ‘Just Do It’ either on your own or with someone else. I love going to our local outdoor pool with my family and grandchildren, in particular.
  6. Read. I love my Kindle and read every night.  I seriously can’t drop off to sleep until I have read a few pages of my latest book.  It takes my mind of the day’s events and transports me into another world.
  7. Have a Holiday. Take time to spend time with your family.  I love the beach and holidays in the sun.  Strolling into a warm sea and feeling the sun on my skin – just fantastic.
  8. Tidy up. I have to talk myself into this one but it always makes me feel better once it is done.  This goes for the house, car, office and even handbag!
  9. Movie night. Just curl up on the sofa with your favourite sweeties/ice cream. I usually have one or both of the dogs on my lap wanting a cuddle too.
  10. Change. There have been times in my life when I have realised that there is too much stress.  I needed to take a look at why that was and then make some difficult decisions. I have never found that they were the wrong decisions, only decisions that have changed things for the better in my life.

There are many other positive ways to cope with stress, so get Googling if you're looking for more ideas, and don't forget to check out the resources on the HeadStart Support and Guidance site: