Dealing with things that cause you stress

When beginning to deal with things that cause you distress it’s important not to tackle too much at once.  Break them down into manageable steps, making small changes along the way.

Looking at your list of easy things to change, you need to consider each of them carefully.  It may help you to talk with a friend, partner or someone close to help you view each problem more clearly.  You can use a piece of paper to jot down any important points.

  • ASK yourself what it is about the things that cause you distress that are a problem e.g. the long commute to work
  • DECIDE what aspects of the problem is within your control – but be realistic e.g. it means getting home late every day
  • THINK about your responses in the situation, what you think, feel and do e.g. feeling anxious, uptight and tired

Having answered or thought about these questions, you now need to explore possible solutions.  It might be helpful to discuss solutions with someone else, don’t immediately dismiss any suggestion you or anyone else has.

Consider each solution in terms of:

  • What is best for you – what you feel comfortable attempting
  • What may happen if you try this particular situation – to help you see how it can work for you
  • How likely you are to succeed.  In exploring each solution in this way, it may help you to choose solutions that are most likely to succeed.  This will limit your chances of failure and the feeling that you have reached a dead end.

When you decide to make change(s), it is useful to discuss your intentions with those around you who may be affected. By doing this, you prepare them for change and it will help you to gain their support and co-operation.

When we’re stressed

When we are stressed it can feel like we are on a slippery road and are out of control. At these times we sometimes look out for things to keep us going such as alcohol, cigarettes, drugs (illegal or prescribed) or binge on food, sweets or chocolate.  However, these things only make us feel better in the short-term particularly such things as smoking, drinking or using drugs, you may have to increase your intake to gain the same effect.

In addition, turning to these things can actually be damaging to your health in other ways.  It is best to find ways to replace these with other more healthy and helpful ways of coping.

You must remember that your stress won’t go away overnight.  It has probably taken weeks, months or even years to get to an unacceptable level

Helpful ways to cope

Be aware of your own stress warning signs

Act early to reduce your stress levels

Get enough rest and sleep

Learn to recognise when you are tired and take time to rest and refresh yourself

If you are ill

Don’t carry on as if you are not.  Give your body a chance to recover

Exercise regularly

It releases tension, uses up adrenaline and makes you feel more relaxed

Teach yourself to relax

If done daily it will help you to prevent a build-up of tension

Take time out to enjoy yourself

Have fun, do something for yourself because you enjoy it.  Have a laugh

If you cannot change something, learn to accept it

Talk to someone you can trust

Gain support and understanding

Don’t be afraid to say no!

Trust others to do the job well


Decide what is important and do jobs one at a time

Agree with someone

Co-operate with others rather than compete

Life doesn’t need to be a constant battle

Remember, the answer lies with you