Even though there are likely to be some things happening in your life that you can't control, there are still lots of practical things you can do to manage the amount of pressure you're under day to day. For example:
Identify your triggers
Working out what triggers stress for you can help you anticipate problems and think of ways to solve them. Even if you can't avoid these situations, being prepared can help.
Take some time to reflect on events and feelings that could be contributing to your stress (you might want to do this with a friend or family member). You could consider:
- issues that come up regularly, and that you worry about, for example paying a bill or attending an appointment
- one-off events that are on your mind a lot, such as moving house or taking an exam
- ongoing stressful events, like being a carer or having problems at work
You might be surprised to find out just how much you're coping with at once. Remember that not having enough work, activities or change in your life can be just as stressful a situation as having too much to deal with.
Organise your time
Making some adjustments to the way you organise your time could help you feel more in control of any tasks you're facing, and more able to handle pressure.
- Identify your best time of day, and do the important tasks that need the most energy and concentration at that time. For example, you might be a morning person or an evening person.
- Make a list of things you have to do. Arrange them in order of importance, and try to focus on the most urgent first. If your tasks are work related, ask a manager or colleague to help you prioritise. You may be able to push back some tasks until you're feeling less stressed.
- Vary your activities. Balance interesting tasks with more mundane ones, and stressful tasks with those you find easier or can do more calmly.
- Try not to do too much at once. If you take on too much, you might find it harder to do any individual task well. This can make you feel like you have even more pressure on you.
- Take breaks and take things slowly. It might be difficult to do this when you're stressed, but it can make you more productive.
I try and reassure myself by breaking things down into small achievable tasks.
Address some of the causes
Although there will probably lots of things in your life that you can't do anything about, there might still be some practical ways you could to resolve or improve some of the issues that are putting pressure on you. You might find it helpful to read our information on:
Accept the things you can't change
It's not easy, but accepting that there are some things happening to you that you probably can't do anything about will help you focus your time and energy more productively.
Sometimes I take a minute to 'reply' to my stressy thoughts... it's hard to be stressed when you've got things in perspective! Most of the things I worry about are either things I can't change or things which aren't earth-shatteringly important.
This information was published in March 2015. We will revise it in 2018.