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News - Did you go to the company Christmas party? One survey shows that nearly two in five won’t attend their company’s festivities this year because December is simply too stressful.

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Did you go to the company Christmas party? One survey shows that nearly two in five won’t attend their company’s festivities this year because December is simply too stressful.

22nd December 2015

5 Top Tips to help you minimise or avoid stress

I read a news story on the CIPD website about a survey conducted by Consumer Intelligence for MetLife Employee Benefits, which highlighted how very few staff actually see Christmas as the most wonderful time of the year. More than two-fifths (42 per cent) of respondents said that December is actually one of the most stressful months of the year. With presents to buy, competition with colleagues to get the best days booked as holiday and projects to finish before the end of the year, the pressure builds up. Respondents said that the biggest causes of stress in December were balancing work and home life (38 per cent) and colleagues taking leave in the run up to the festive break (32 per cent).

It’s always sad to read news like this, as I can quite understand the pressure Christmas can have on so many people at this time of year. Tension and anxiety, whether it’s at Christmas or any other demanding time, are very common problems in society today, and many people will suffer the symptoms of stress at some time in their lives.

As the effects of stress can be, at the very least, unpleasant, it is useful to know how to manage and reduce stress in our lives.

There are many numerous steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of being affected by stress and many of them are a matter of simple common sense.

Here are 5 simple Tips to help you minimise or avoid stress:-

  1. Get physical

Stressful situations increase the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in your body.

There are the “fight or flight” hormones that are hard-wired into our brains and which are designed to protect us from immediate bodily harm when we are under threat.

However, stress in the modern age is rarely remedied by a fight or flight response and so physical exercise can be used as a substitute to metabolise the excessive stress hormones and restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state.

When you feel stressed and tense, go for a brisk walk in fresh air. Try to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis, either before or after work, or at lunchtime.

Regular physical activity will also improve the quality of your sleep.

  1. Sleep

A lack of sleep is a significant cause of stress.

Unfortunately though, stress also interrupts our sleep as thoughts keep whirling through our heads, stopping us from relaxing enough to fall asleep.

Rather than relying on medication, your aim should be to maximise your relaxation before going to bed.

Make sure that your bedroom is a tranquil oasis with no reminders of the things that cause you stress.

Avoid caffeine during the evening, as well as excessive alcohol if you know that this leads to disturbed sleep. Stop doing any mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed so that you give your brain time to calm down. Try taking a warm bath or reading a calming, undemanding book for a few minutes to relax your body, tire your eyes and help you forget about the things that worry you.

You should also aim to go to bed at roughly the same time each day so that your mind and body get used to a predictable bedtime routine.

  1. Talk it over

Do not try to cope with problems alone. Having someone to share your problems can greatly help to ‘offload’ the stress. You might find it useful to talk to a friend or work colleague, or talk to your line manager or employer if you are experiencing stress in the workplace.

Talking can work by either distracting you from your stressful thoughts or by releasing some of the built-up tension by discussing it.

Stress can cloud your judgement and prevent you from seeing things clearly.

Talking things through with a friend, work colleague or even a trained professional, can help you find solutions to your stress and put your problems into perspective.

  1. Take control

Stress can be triggered by a problem that may on the surface seem impossible to solve.

Learning how to find solutions to your problem will help you to feel more in control, thereby lowering your level of stress.

One problem-solving technique involves writing down the problem and coming up with as many possible solutions as you can.

Decide on the good and bad points of each one and select the best solution.

Write down each step that you need to take as part of the solution: what will be done, how will it be done, when will it be done, who is involved and where will it take place.

  1. Manage your time

At times, we all feel overburdened by our “To Do” list and this is a common cause of stress.

Accept that you cannot do everything at once and start to prioritise and diarise your tasks.

Make a list of all the things that you need to do and list them in order of genuine priority. Note what tasks you need to do personally and what can be delegated to others to do. Record which tasks need to be done immediately, the next week, the next month, or when time allows.

By editing what might have started out as an overwhelming and daunting task, you can break it down into a series of smaller, more manageable tasks spread out over a longer time frame, maybe with some tasks removed from the list entirely through delegation.

Don’t fill your schedule completely – allow 10% buffer time to deal with any unexpected or emergency tasks, and to include time for your own relaxation and thinking time.

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