If you follow these four steps the next time you feel your tension levels rise, then you can turn your stress response into a ‘challenge’ response, says psychologist Dr Kelly McGonigal in her book The Upside Of Stress.
1. Acknowledge stress when you experience it
Simply allow yourself to notice it, including how it affects your body. When you’re in a stressful situation, it may seem easier to avoid it, but this can be detrimental in the long run. Identifying your triggers will help you cope with it better in future.
2. Recognise that the stress is a response to something you care about
Can you connect to the positive motivation behind stress and why it matters to you? Addressing the reason why something affects you will help you understand why you get anxious about it.
3. Direct the energy that stress gives you
Instead of wasting it trying to manage the stress ask yourself: what action can you take or choice can you make that is consistent with your goals and values in the moment?
4. Eat a healthy diet to help manage your stress
When your body is well nourished, it is better equipped to deal with stress. Eating at least three balanced meals a day and keeping hydrated is key. Try to keep your sugar and caffeine consumption at a minimum, as they can cause an increased heart rate and blood pressure, which contribute to high stress levels.