Managing stress and improving the quality of our lives leads to happiness and contentment, surely the most basic goal we all strive for. Read below for 10 tips on helping to achieve this healthful balance.

1. Sleep

A good nights sleep brings many benefits, including overall improvements in well-being, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, depression and immune related disorders, help with weight regulation and improvements in memory, focus and concentration. Attending to sleep hygiene is one of the cornerstones of good health.
The following guidelines can help you achieve better sleep quality.

  • Minimize stimulation long before bedtime, that means no TV, no laptops, iphones or ipads.
  • Don’t nap in the afternoons.
  • Reduce your fluid intake from mid-afternoon and stop altogether from later in the evening.
  • Drink alcohol moderately and early in the evening. Alcohol late at night may help you fall asleep but will interrupt the latter phase of sleep.
  • Don’t soak in a bath before bed, it will stimulate rather than soothe.
  • Keep your bedroom for the two S’s, Sleep and Sex. Make it a minimalist, soothing space with associations of relaxation.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, heavy meals or exciting movies.

2. Breathe

Your breathing fulfills the vital activity of bringing oxygen to your body and also helps to regulate your autonomic nervous system. Stress brings interrupted, laboured or irregular breathing. Amidst the stresses of everyday life, it’s all too common that we forget to breathe.
Maintain relaxed easy breathing, practice 5 minutes 3 times a day of relaxed deep breathing, better yet take up yoga or meditation. Indeed, any exercise where you increase your heart rate will help regulate your breathing.
And laugh often…

  3.Give of Yourself

Giving of ourselves is a way to contribute to our communities, escape our own stressful worlds and teaches us that small actions can have large consequences. It also makes us feel more connected and happier in our own lives. It reminds us that no matter how we may feel about our lives, we can still  contribute to someone who may be less fortunate.

  4. Find Balance

We find ourselves torn in many different directions. The demands and responsibilities placed on us often exceed our capacity and interfere with our abilities to look after ourselves. Learning to say no, being assertive about our own needs, recognising our own limits and managing time effectively all help to provide a life-structure ensuring a healthy mindful balance and so avoid becoming overwhelmed and depleted.

5. Be Mindful of a Negative Mind

We can often be our own worst enemies. How we think can influence our behavior, and our behavior can influence how we think. Try to be aware of the internal dialogue running through your mind. Banish ruminative catastrophic thoughts, try not to dwell to much on the past or worry about the future. Don’t allow negative thoughts to dominate your mindscape. Listen to how you talk to others. Are you negative; dwelling on sickness, worst case scenarios, self-pity or the denigration of others. Look on the brighter side, cultivate optimism.

6. Seek A Higher Meaning

As humans, we are unique in questioning the deeper meanings in our lives. Why are we here? Why do bad things happen to us?, What is our purpose in life? The answers we provide to these questions have important consequences for our health. Those who are able to make sense of the bigger picture and can connect with some belief system that goes beyond everyday reality are best able to deal with illness, maintain optimism and nurture joy in their lives.

7. Cultivate Relationships

Our relationships connect us in this world. They provide the embrace through which we find our greatest joy and meaning. The quality of our relationships is a powerful predictor of enduring good health. Meaningful relationships with family, friends and community act as a warning system, buffer to illness and provide nurturing care when we are at our most vulnerable. Cultivate your connection with others, work on your relationships.

8. Play and Create

Diverse interests and activities will bring you in contact with new ideas, situations and people and allow you to express those hidden parts of yourself. These will add to the richness of your life and diversify your engagement with the world. Your day-to-day quality of life will improve and you will find that this well-being flows naturally into your relationships and primary occupation.

9. Value Experiences not Things

We live in a material world but research suggests  increasing dissatisfaction if we base our happiness or aspirations for success on the acquisition of material goods. There will always be something better or more fashionable to buy. You cannot however put a price on a cherished memory or life-affirming experience. Take a course, learn a language, travel and create meaningful memories that can be shared with your loved ones. These are priceless.

10. Exercise and Diet

Physical activity and what you eat are the pillars of good health. Avoid inactivity and filling your body with toxic foodstuffs.
Make the phrase “keep moving or die” your mantra, and value yourself sufficiently to consume that which is good for your body.

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To download in PDF form:

10 Steps to Combating stress and Cultivating Wellbeing