Tips to de-stress

I’m a self-confessed stress-head but it’s something I am trying to work on and there’s no time like the present as April is Stress Awareness Month.

Stress Awareness Month takes place every April since it first launched in 1992.

Most of us will experience stress at some point in our lives, but constant or extreme stress is bad for both your mind and body.

Reducing stress is important because if left unchecked it can be deadly — in fact, stress is often referred to as the “silent killer” because although its effects are not always immediately apparent, it can lead to a number of serious health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.



What are the symptoms of stress?

Stress can affect how you feel emotionally, mentally and physically, and also how you behave.

How you may feel emotionally

  • overwhelmed
  • irritable and “wound up”
  • anxious or fearful
  • lacking in self-esteem

How you may feel mentally

  • racing thoughts
  • constant worrying
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty making decisions

How you may feel physically

  • headaches
  • muscle tension or pain
  • dizziness
  • sleep problems
  • feeling tired all the time
  • eating too much or too little

How you may behave

  • drinking or smoking more
  • snapping at people
  • avoiding things or people you are having problems with

Stressed woman

Stressed woman

What causes stress?

Big life changes often create stress, even happy events like having a baby, moving house or planning a wedding.

Feeling like you aren’t in control of events in your life – for example, if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness or you get made redundant – can also cause stress.

Stress may be related to:

  • work – for example, unemployment, a high workload or retirement
  • family – for example, relationship difficulties or being a carer
  • housing – for example, moving house or problems with neighbours
  • personal issues – for example, coping with a serious illness, bereavement or financial problems

It’s important to tackle the causes of stress in your life if you can. Avoiding problems rather than facing them can actually make things worse.

But it’s not always possible to change a stressful situation. You may need to accept there’s nothing you can do about it and refocus your energies elsewhere.

Stress relief this way

Stress relief this way

How can you de-stress?

Be active

Stretching before exercise

Stretching before exercise

Exercise won’t make your stress disappear, but it will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling, clearing your thoughts and letting you to deal with your problems more calmly. Exercising also releases endorphins which make you feel happier.

Take control

There’s usually a solution to any problem. The act of taking control is in itself empowering, and it’s a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else.

For tools to keep track of your time see this previous post.

Connect with people



A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way.

The activities we do with friends help us relax and we often have a good laugh with them, which is an excellent stress reliever.

Talking things through with a friend can also help you find solutions to your problems – a problem shared is a problem halved.

Have some ‘me time’

Here in the UK, we work the longest hours in Europe, meaning we often don’t spend enough time doing things we really enjoy.

I think we all need to take some time for socialising, relaxation or exercise and setting aside a couple of hours or even nights a week for some quality “me time” away from work too.

I feel like I’m back on track thanks to self-care time.

Challenge yourself

Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether personal or professional, such as learning a new language or a new sport, helps to build confidence. This will help you deal with stress.



By continuing to learn you can become more resilient to deal with your emotions and it’s much better than just watching TV or scrolling through social media.

Avoid unhealthy habits

Don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping.

Over the long term, these crutches won’t solve your problems. They’ll just create new ones.

Beer and cigarettes

Beer and cigarettes

For tips to quit smoking see this earlier post

For tips to help take days off the booze see this post packed full of useful info.

Help other people

Consider volunteering or community work to help other people which in turn will help you to become more resilient.



It can also help you to put your problems into perspective too.

If you don’t have time to volunteer, try to do someone a favour every day. It can be something as small as helping someone to cross the road or going on a coffee run for colleagues.

How about becoming a Dementia Friend? You can find out how in this post.

Work smarter, not harder

Working smarter means prioritising your work, concentrating on the tasks that will make a real difference.

Leave the least important tasks to last and accept that you might not complete every task at the end of the day.

To do list

To do list

Perhaps writing a to do list and ticking the items off will work for you too.

Try to be positive

Look for the positives in life, and things for which you’re grateful.

Think positive

Think positive

Try writing down a few things that went well, or for which you’re grateful, at the end of every day.

Every Friday Lauren from Milly’s Guide shares a practicing gratitude post; listing the five things she’s grateful for that week and I love it! I read it every week and comment with my five things I’m grateful for. It helps put things into perspective for me and makes me feel really positive. Here’s one of her earlier gratitude posts here.

Accept the things you can’t change

Changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible. Try to concentrate on the things you do have control over instead.

And remember that change doesn’t have to happen over night.

For example, if you want to lose weight start by cutting down your portions and doing more exercise and set yourself small and achievable goals.

You could also:

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While you’re here I have been nominated in the Best Pal category in The Annual Bloggers Bash Awards. If you have a spare minute please vote for Rachael’s Thoughts on this link Thank you 😊

Voting is open until midnight on April 30th.

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What are the best ways for you to de-stress? Have you got any tips to share?

Let me know in the comments below.

You can also find me on Twitter @rachael_stray

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41 thoughts on “Tips to de-stress

  1. josypheen says:

    Really good tips Rachel!

    I definitely find heading outside (either on a bike or a hike) reeally helps me de-stress.

    I am less sure about volunteering! I used to volunteer with childrens groups (rainbows.) It was fun, and really rewarding…but it didn’t help me de-stress! Looking after little squeaking girls can be quite stressful! I guess if you want to volunteer to de-stress, you have to pick the activity carefully!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ritu says:

    Great post Rachel!
    Did you know TSB (Teacher Stress and Burnout) is a thing, a recognised condition on my profession? I was told of this before embarking upon fulltime teaching. I’m glad because I fostered a good relationship with my boss, and now if I have worries, I talk to her before it becomes too hard to handle.
    I try to do the same in personal matters too…
    Life is too short to let stress rule it, but it can be so hard to overcome…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jennifer says:

    These are all great tips. For me, breathing is the biggest stress buster. I just stop and start inhaling to the count of three and exhaling to the count of three and focus my attention just on this task for as long as it takes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sumedha says:

    I used to have really bad mental health days before and finally, a couple years back, I started prioritizing my mental health before anything else and it’s made so much difference in my attitude and outlook, even my energy every day! Now when others complain about stress, I almost don’t relate.

    I spend some time every day just listening to music, thinking/continuing the story in my head and bullet journaling. Small things matter. I’ve also taken to exercising a little and tiring my legs to a slight burn so I get good sleep unlike before. It helps so much!

    Liked by 1 person

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