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Secrets to a stress free year

Don’t let stress wear you down this year. Take a deep breath and read on

Faith Gachobe @wangechigachobe

It may seem that there’s nothing you can do about your stress level. The bills aren’t going to stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day for all your errands, and your career or family responsibilities will always be demanding. According to James Kigo, a psychologist, experiencing some stress on a regular basis is normal and can even be helpful.

Also known as the ‘fight or flight response,’ stress can help us steer clear of danger. But too much stress can lead to health problems and can negatively impact other areas of your life.

“Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control,” says Kigo.

Identify stressors

The first step in eliminating stress is identifying the causes in the first place. “Take 10 minutes to think about what stresses you out during the day. What weekly occurrences stress you out? What people, activities, things cause stress in your life? See which of them can be eliminated and start to weed them out. For those that can’t, find ways to make them less stressful,” says Kigo.

Have a positive attititude

You’ve heard a million times: the glass is either half-empty or half-full. You choose the way you want to look at life. Most of the time, stress is made up by false beliefs and negative self-talk. “Shift your perspective. Embrace whatever life throws at you with gratitude. See the bigger picture and try to perceive what life is giving you instead of what is lacking,” advises Kigo.

Don’t procrastinate

Allowing stuff to pile up will stress us out. Find ways to take care of stuff now. “Form a ‘do it now’ habit and keep your inbox and desk clear,” he adds. Be organised Disorganisation causes stress, in terms of visual clutter and in making it difficult to find stuff one needs. Take time to get things in your life organised, starting with your desk and the papers in your home, and moving on to other areas.

Be time conscious

Being late always is a recipe for stress. “If you have to rush to get ready, go to work or other important events, you would be stressed the whole time about looking bad. Make a conscious effort to start getting ready earlier and to leave earlier,” the psychologist advises.

Don’t be over-controlling

“We are not the Master of this Universe. I know we sometimes wish we were, but acting as if we are is a sure way to get stressed out,” Kigo says adding: “Learn to let go and accept the way that other people do things and accept what happens in different situations. The only thing you can control is yourself — work on that before you consider trying to control the world.

Also, learn to separate yourself from tasks and to delegate them. Learning to let go of our need to control others and the situations around us is a major step towards eliminating stress.”

Exercise

Scientists argue that physical activity helps people cope with stress, mild depression and anxiety by causing chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively alter mood. Taking regular exercise can also improve wellbeing by raising self-esteem and self-control.

Eat healthy

Eating a healthy balanced diet can make a significant contribution to a less stressful lifestyle. By making healthy positive choices with your diet, you can make yourself both physically and emotionally stronger. Having a good diet will help your body function more efficiently.

Get enough sleep

The average adult requires between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. Not only can a lack of sleep lead to increased stress, but chronic sleep deprivation can impair your judgement, reasoning ability, appearance, libido, and your performance at work or school.

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