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Why stress is killing you… (and what to do about it)

Ever feel like you’re spinning one too many plates?

Full day at work, for starters, followed by a main course of parents’ evening/after-school activity/traffic from hell (delete as appropriate) ending with a dessert of evening routine, which can be anything from sorting out dinner to helping with homework.

Eventually, one of these plates will fall.

If life has left you feeling frazzled (and let’s face it, who hasn’t experienced this?!) the first step to feeling better is to identify the cause and take control – there’s always a solution to a problem.

Here are some top tips to help you build up good stress management skills in everyday life:

Have some 'me time'

We work some of the longest hours in Europe (and don’t we know it?!) meaning we often don’t spend enough time doing things we really enjoy.

Everybody needs to take some time for socialising, relaxation or exercise, but we know it’s easier said than done. Why not sit down as a family and consciously book that time in at the start of the week so you won’t be tempted to work later and burn yourself out?

Booking in that time also gives you something to look forward to and aim for – key motivators for a busy week ahead.

Get more active

Exercise won’t make your stress disappear, but it will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling, helping you clear your thoughts and letting you to deal with your problems with a calmer outlook.

Be careful not to overdo it – blowing off steam with exercise is very common but we’d recommend sticking to your usual activities and fitness level to avoid overexertion. For example, if you like to walk or jog, don’t suddenly triple your usual distance or speed after a bad day at the office – this can do more harm than good.

Being in control of your situation

There’s a solution to any problem. If you remain passive, thinking nothing can be done about your situation, your stress will get worse and the feeling that you’re losing control is one of the main causes of stress and lack of wellbeing.

The act of taking control is in itself empowering, and it's a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else. If you want to set yourself a goal, do it.

Having a good social network

A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your troubles and help you see things in a different way.

The activities we do with friends help us to relax – find something you all like doing together, like an exercise class or community activity, and go along to have a good laugh, which is always an excellent stress reliever.

Knowing you’ve committed to an activity with your friends, family or colleagues will also give you enough of a nudge to make sure you don’t let them down by not turning up. Team activities are always a winner, so why not form your own sports team?