Is it possible to not only accept and live with stress, but also be able to manage the stress in your life well?

Yes, it is!

In this article, you will learn three strategies to help you to begin this process. It is indeed possible to manage your stress well, no matter what occurs in your life.

let’s begin together.

Important point – Firstly, it is important to note that I am not a doctor and I don’t try to be- so please consult your doctor, local surgery or a medical professional when making changes to your lifestyle. They can be a fantastic source of knowledge, guidance and help for you. I know mine is for me.

Why is stress such a problem in our modern lives?

When our bodies and minds feel that a situation, person or place is too difficult for us, then we go into stress mode. It’s a hyper vigilant, high performance mode, and it can be really useful- as it enables to run quicker, feel a rush of energy and be aware and alert to dangers.

However, the big problem with our modern lives is not that we experience this stress mode- often called fight or flight– it is that we do not recover properly afterwards. And unfortunately, our stress is mostly invisible. You cannot see it like a bruise, a cut or a broken bone. It manifests inside our bodies: in rising levels of chemicals such as cortisol and in increasing heart rates and a variety of negative symptoms.

In the short term, these adaptions in our body are normal, healthy and useful; but if taking place daily over months and years, without breaks, the effects can be damaging. And sometimes, even fatal.

Key point – stress is a naturally occurring part of life, so make sure to focus on recovering from it.


One source of stress – Relationships

Our loved ones can cause us a huge amount of emotional stress, and it is important that we recognise this: arguments, conflict, separations, divorces, deaths. These could be highly intense brief moments for you, or long drawn out situations, such as going through a divorce or grieving for the death of a loved one. These can cause emotional stress to build and build in our systems silently and invisibly for months or years, often without us noticing it.

How to manage this well

Take some time to think about the people and situations in your life that may be causing you stress at the moment. Really be honest with yourself- they often come from the people that we love the most.

Here are 3 ways to help you manage this:

  1. Speak to your loved ones about situations, and explain that they may be causing you stress. Often, we assume that loved ones know us and what we think and feel. They don’t. Make it clear to them.
  2. Consider reducing your activities and moving from fifth gear down into third gear for a while, if you are going through a longer term stressful situation, such as a death or a separation. Be kind to yourself, and recognise that you cannot be expected to be ???? in this moment.
  3. Take breaks from the people who are causing you stress, wherever possible. This could be a weekend away, or even just moments in the day: an hour at lunch, a commute home or 10 minutes at the start and end of each day. Our bodies need time away from stressful people and situations, and they will begin to heal. Give yours this, and explain it to your loved ones.

Key point for you – we care so much about the people we love, and so, they can be a huge source of stress for us. Recognise this, accept it and make a plan to handle it.

A second cause of stress – Environments

A work environment, a car crash, a confrontation on the street, an unexpected argument online. There are many online and offline environments, where we suddenly have to deal with difficult situations, and go into fight or flight stress mode. As we have learned, stress is a normal and healthy reaction to such moments.

People disagree, accidents happen, and we should expect them to be so. However, what most people do not do, in relation to environmental stress, is take time daily to recover from it. Many people wake up thinking about stressful situations at work, they experience them throughout the day, and on the way home and then in the evening, keep thinking about them, thus re-enforcing their effects in their bodies and minds.

Have you done this? I know I have in the past, many times. So here is a very simple and effective practice which you can begin today, to help you to break this cycle of constant environmental stress exposure.

How to manage this well

Book end the start and the end of your day with 10 minutes of no stress.

You can meditate if you want, listen to some gentle music, light a candle. I often like to just sit and stare. It doesn’t matter what it is. Do this at the start and end of your day, to send a strong message to your body and mind, that there is no stress in these moments. You begin the day with a moment of no stress at all, and in the evening, you take a moment to let all the stress and tension go. This simple practice is hugely effective. This is because your body needs little moments of recovery in-between stressful situations, to calm down, balance out and begin to heal you. You don’t have to have weeks of time away from stressful environments, unless you are very ill. Often, little daily moments are fantastic for relieving the pressure on your body- think of these little moments as letting steam and pressure out of a very full pipe.

Key point for you – short breaks, even 5 minutes, from stressful environments, can lead to huge gains in enabling your system to recover from its stressors.


A third source of stress – Yourself

This can be a difficult truth to understand, but once you embrace it, it can fundamentally shift your relationship with both your stress and yourself, towards a more positive, empowered one.

Most of the stress that you experience in your life, will come from yourself. Just let that sink in. Sounds a bit sad doesn’t it? So let me me clarify what I mean.

There are 3 main causes of stress:

  1. Environments– people, situations, life events, crises, accidents.
  2. Yourself– what you do and how you live your life.
  3. Your reactions to stress– how you think, feel, the plans you make and the actions that you take.

And your stress, like mine and 8 billion other people on the planet with us today, comes from a combination of the 3. Now, here is where you can make a positive shift in your understanding of stress management. Most people over-estimate the effects that environmental stress has on them. They think that other people, outside environments and events are the sole things which cause stress.

This is not the full picture. If you imagine that all 3 causes are weighted equally, then 2/3 of the stress in your life will come from yourself. From how you think, feel and act, your perception of stress, the plans you make and the actions that you take. This is a wonderful realisation! You can, in effect, gain an element of control and stability over 66% of the stress in your life.

Let’s look at how you can manage the stress that comes from yourself.


How to manage this well

1 Breathing. If you are in a stressful situation, or thinking about it beforehand or afterwards, your breathing can help you to calm down and come out of fight or flight mode. Slow your breathing right down. Your mind and your thoughts will then follow. Generally, breathing out for longer than you breath in, is an excellent way to do this. I like to take 5 deep breathes, and on the out breath, say a grounding, kind phrase to myself, such relax or this will pass or I am safe.

Doing this breath work will help to shift your body out of fight or flight mode. You can do it at any time. I recently did it on the underground tube in London, and it worked really well to stop me from getting highly stressed in that moment.

2 Self talk. Be careful and kind with how you talk to yourself. Too many of us often say things like, I’m so stressed, or that too stressful or I’m feeling stressed out! It’s too much! But the following question you must always think is:

So what are you going to do about it?

Instead, when you feel stressed, use calming, kind phrases to calm your mind down and allow it to come out of emergency mode. Talking lazily about stress to others can sometimes even trick your body into going into stress mode without meaning to! So instead, say regularly phrases to yourself such as:

This is temporary, it will pass
Every problem has a solution
I can handle this 
I am safe
All is well
How can I use this situation?

Do not be fooled by the simplicity of these phrases. It is because of their simplicity that you can memorise them, and call upon them when you need them the most. I would recommend using them before, during and after stressful situations, to train your mind up. And once you find ones that work best for you, you can create your own list.

3 Be kind to yourself. Your relationship with stress and looking after yourself is one of the most important aspects of your life. If you manage it well, it will be a great companion and source of energy for you. But if ignored or mismanaged, it can stop you dead in your tracks. So be kind to yourself, as you continually discover what currently causes you stress, what helps you to relax, how you can adapt to meet challenges and how to look after yourself for the long term.

One important point I have learned recently is, that your sources of stress this year might be totally different to last year. And so you might need to update your resources, your approaches and the support you surround yourself with, to manage this well. Therefore, be vigilant, tune into your stress and you can begin to ride it like a wave. Don’t get stuck in just trying what has worked in the past. Every year of your life, like every wave, and every new day, is different. Embrace this and adapt and you will no longer fear stress, but embrace it as a necessary friend.

Key point for you – You can control and influence your own perspective and behaviour, and so have a positive impact on up to 66% of your stress.

Here are some extra things that can help you to manage your stress and recover well:

  • Dance time! Join a class or just in your own home.
  • Hot baths – help to relax your muscles and calm your mind.
  • Walks in nature without your phone – help slow your thinking down and connect with the present moment.
  • Journaling – keep a journal of what you enjoy doing to relax and recover and prioritise those things.
  • De-stimulate yourself – take 5-10 minutes to sit and do absolutely nothing- it will slow down your mind and allow you to process things better.
  • Learn something new- when our minds are learning and in curious mode, they often are more playful, joyful and relaxed.
  • Visualise a bucket and imagine all the things that are currently a source of stress for you inside it. Ask yourself how full you are on a scale of 0-100%. If near 100% or over, choose to take something out of the bucket and do so. This can be a hugely effective approach to lower the stress levels in your life.

Your next steps towards effective stress management

Don’t fear stress.

Don’t let the concept of it overwhelm you.

You can manage yourself well, you can adapt, and you can be highly successful in your life; by taking the time for self reflection, analysis and a bit of adaption in how you approach it.

You can handle and deal with so much, if you take the time to believe that you can, challenge your perceptions and plan out what you can do to look after your body, your mind and your environments. Athletes embrace and know the cycle of damage, repair, damage repair. This helps them to understand that the work they do is stressful and damaging to their systems, which is necessary to perform at the levels that they want to. And so, they must embrace their recovery just as seriously, if not more so, to complete the cycle.

I am not an athlete, and you may not be either. But we can take inspiration from, and take the meaning of, their strategy. It is a very sound one. Keep the damage, repair mantra in your mind. Successful stress management is all about focusing on the repair. And excitingly, every time you repair properly, you will come back stronger, wiser, more capable and more determined.

Don’t perform like a professional and rest like an amateur.

Take your recovery seriously.

Final thoughts

If you would like to learn more, to create a detailed plan to manage your stress effectively in your life, I have made an online course to help you. I am very proud of it, and there’s a lot in it which can help you.

Click here to access stress success

Kataholos Learning

Reading my article on how to handle the pain in your life can help you further:

How Can You Handle the Pain in Your Life

Listening to my podcast Food for the Journey can help you further:

Season 1 Episode 9 How to rest, relax and recover properly 


Love and best wishes,

How to keep in touch with Kataholos:


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