Feeling under pressure? Try these practical stress-busters

Feeling under pressure? Try these practical stress-busters

Yes, you do have time to read this short guide on how to de-stress because, let’s be realistic, 2020 has been a crazy year and we could probably all do with some tips to handle it.


Believe it or not, you can avoid a lot of stress – and it starts by not seeing “busyness” as a virtue.

  • Learn how to say “no”. This is harder than it sounds but is so important, as extra demands on your already limited time will add to your stress. Only say “yes” if doing so makes your heart happy, otherwise it can lead to unnecessary pressure and anxiety.
  • Take control of your day. If you go out to work, pack a healthy lunch so you don’t feel tired and “hungry” by mid-afternoon.  Also, if you can’t cope with rush-hour traffic, leave earlier for work or take a longer but less busy route.
  • Shrink your to-do list. Mark what absolutely needs to be done with red, yellow or green and on extremely busy days tackle “red” first. Take on “yellow” tasks if you have the time and push “green” to another day.
  • Limit time on social media. If you “doom-scroll” through social media feeds – and that’s been so common over the pandemic – it may add to feelings of being overwhelmed. Avoid this by restricting the times that you are online as it really can help.


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If you have a stressful task, consider how you can handle it in a different, less difficult way. In other words, work smarter, not harder – and learn how to manage your time.

  • Change your daily routine to include regular, moderate exercise. Focus on 30 minutes of exercise a day as research shows it has a dramatic effect on personal well-being.
  • Alter your diet: keep protein-rich snacks to hand, skip the junk food, caffeine and carbs and drink lots of water. Small changes here really do bring big rewards.
  • Change how you address tasks by grouping them: list the phone calls you need to make (in order of priority),  all the errands you need to run, the emails you have to attend to, then complete each batch.
  • Alter how you communicate: often frustrations build up because we don’t communicate clearly. Use "I" language, as in, "I feel frustrated by this workload. Is there something we can do to make it more manageable?"


It can be tough to accept what you cannot change but with acceptance often comes peace of mind.

  • Learn from your mistakes. Instead of telling yourself: "I messed up, I’ll never get this right, I’m a failure” rather say: "I made a mistake with this project but I’ll learn from it and improve next time".
  • Be your own cheerleader. It's easy to blame yourself and feel down when you're stressed but one negative thought can lead to another.
  • Consider the big picture and ask yourself: "Will this matter in a year?" Often it won’t.

Adapt & Switch off

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  • Changing your standards or expectation — can be most helpful. Try what nutritionist Jess Sepel calls a “stress-free zone” by carving out a block of 10-20 minutes of time to spend in silence, stillness and solitude.
  • You might put your phone away, do a stretching routine, talk a walk around the block, or listen to music – you do whatever relaxes you.
  • Ditch that coffee at lunch because the later in the day you have caffeine, the more it will keep you awake.
  • Likewise, sugary treats after dinner disrupt your sleep clock so try to avoid them.
  • Put your phone down and switch off emails and social media at least an hour before you go to bed.
  • Calm down with alternate nose breathing, where you press one nostril closed with a finger and breathe in deeply through the other nostril. Release and repeat with the other nostril, alternating for 1-2 minutes. It’s amazing how this can help you to get to sleep, or to relax at any time of the day.

Last but not least, be kind to yourself. Stop rushing, learn how to slow down and ease into the “new normal” that we are all trying to figure out.

Date Published: 
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