SELF HELP FOR
Stress is our
psychological, emotional and physical response to pressure. We
feel there are too many demands, and too few resources to cope.
That pressure can
arise from external factors including life events, illness (ourselves or someone
close to us) living conditions, work, home and family, study, lack of some
necessity, or the demands we place on ourselves.
Even those events which we
see as enjoyable can be stressful, such as holidays, moving home, starting a
better job, pregnancy, parenthood, Christmas etc.
Thoughts which are common when feeling
- This is too much - I
- It's not fair. Someone
should be helping me.
- There is too much to
do, and too little time
- I'll never finish
- I have to get this done
The physical response to stress is caused by the body's adrenaline response -
the body's alarm signal and survival mechanism when faced with a threat.
- Heart racing, pounding
- Breathing faster
- Tense muscles - e.g.
neck, shoulders, abdomen
- Hot, sweaty
- Agitated, restless
- Bladder or bowel
Vicious Cycle of Stress
Making Positive Changes
Identify your stressors
- What's making you
- Where am I when I'm
feeling stressed? What am I doing? Who am I with?
- What helpful changes
could I make?
- What is within my
Even if there is little
you can do about some situations, maybe making some small changes - in routine,
in the way you handle things, doing things differently, taking time out,
thinking about it in a different way, in getting help, seeking advice - could
make all the difference
Identify the factors that
help keep the problem going
cogs diagram (PDF) to help you identify what
contributes to your stress. Look at each factor and
try to make changes in each.
Example vicious cogs of stress:
Doing things differently
Do something different (to
what you normally do)
Consider what demands you
can reduce, or ask others to help with.
Make time for yourself
each day - relaxation, fun, enjoyment. Create a healthy balance - allow time for
activities which give you a sense of achievement, those that help us connect and give a sense of
closeness to others, and of a sense of enjoyment.
When stressed, we often spend more time doing things that help us achieve, but less of
enjoyment and closeness to others. Aim for a healthy balance as shown in the pie
chart, between ACE
activites: Achievement, Closeness or connecting to others, and Enjoyment (ACE)
- Keep an
PDF to help
you keep track
- BACES: Steps to
positive mental health
- Mindfulness - learn
- Focus your attention
fully on another activity - Mindful activity
Relaxation techniques - try lots and find one that works for you
- Put on some
music - sing and dance along, or just listen
attentively (use music that is likely to help you feel your desired emotion -
avoid sad songs if you're depressed)
Meditation or Prayer
- Help others
- Be with others -
contact a friend, visit family
- Talk to someone
Grounding techniques -
look around you, what do you see, hear, smell, sense? Hold a comforting
- Physical exercise -
walk, swim, go to the gym, cycle (take the stairs instead of the lift, get off
the bus a stop early)
- Engage in a hobby or
other interest - if you don't have one, find one! What have you enjoyed in the
past? What have you sometimes thought about doing but not got around to?
- Limit your
responsibilities - it's okay to say no
- Write down your
thoughts and feelings - get them out of your head
- Just take one step at a
time - don't plan too far ahead
Positive self-talk - encourage yourself, tell yourself: I can do this, I
am strong and capable - find an affirmation that works for you (even if you
don't believe it at first!). Write it down and memorise it for when you need
- Do something creative -
make a box of items that remind you to use the techniques that help, or put
photos on paper, or write and decorate a list
Imagery e.g. to
bring about future goals
Tell yourself: "This
will pass, it's only temporary". "I've got through this before, I can do it
now". When we're going through a tunnel and become fearful of being trapped,
there's no point in stopping - we just have to carry on in order to reach the
end of the tunnel.
- Learn to communicate
assertively (rather than passively or
- Eat a healthy balanced
diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables
- Drink less caffeine and
- Pamper yourself - do
something you really enjoy, or do something relaxing
- Watch relaxing
- Download and listen to
Pause, take a breath, don't react automatically
- What am I reacting to?
- What is it that I think
is going to happen here?
- Is this
fact or opinion?
- What's the worst (and
best) that could happen? What's most likely to happen?
- How helpful is it for
me to think this way?
- Am I getting things out
- Is it worth it?
- How important is this
really? How important will it be in 6 months time?
- What meaning am I
giving this situation?
- Am I overestimating the
- Am I underestimating my
ability to cope?
- What's the bigger
picture? The helicopter view?
- Have I got my
- What do I look like to
other people? How am I affecting them?
- Am I mind-reading what
others might be thinking?
- Am I believing I can
predict the future?
- Is there another way of
looking at this?
- What advice would I
give someone else in this situation?
- Am I putting more
pressure on myself?
- Just because I feel
bad, doesn't mean things really are bad.
- Can I do things any
- How much can I control
in this situation? What is outside of my control?
- What changes (however
small) can I make to those things that I am able to control?
- What do I want or need
from this person or situation? What do they want or need from me? Is there a
- What would be the
consequences of responding the way I usually do?
- Is there another way of
dealing with this?
- What would be the most
helpful and effective action to take? (for me, for the situation, for the
Relaxing MP3s for download
Stress Self Help: download or print this page (PDF)
BACES: Steps to
positive mental health
Self Help Books
An Introduction to Coping with Stress
Mindfulness for Health: A practical guide to relieving pain, reducing stress and restoring wellbeing
Full Catastrophe Living, Revised Edition: How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world