CPD tips - Stress management techniques

CPD tips - Stress management techniques

02 Aug 2022

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At some point in our lives, we’ll all experience stress at varying levels. Sometimes it’s simply unavoidable, but there are ways that we can manage stress in the moment and after the fact to ensure we’re not prolonging our stress levels for an unhealthy period of time.

Short bursts of less intense stress, for some people, can be a good thing. That increased stress level in the body can heighten performance and help us concentrate on one specific thing. However, we highlight ‘short bursts’ here because any prolonged stress level can be damaging to our physical and mental health. In this brief article, we’ll outline what stress is, how you can recognise the feeling of being stressed, and offer hints and tips for managing stress and how to reduce stress. 

Stress management techniques

It’s important to note that stress affects everyone differently and at different levels. Many different things can cause it - it’s not the same for everyone. As The Mental Health Foundation advises, you should contact your GP if you feel it’s affecting your daily life, including your mental and physical wellbeing. 

What is stress?

Stress is our body’s innate reaction to certain pressured or emotional situations. It’s a feeling, a physical act, or a change in our body as a direct result of particular conditions or occurrences.

How can you spot the signs of stress

Stress affects everyone in different ways, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this, but the NHS provides a general list of common symptoms:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiousness
  • Irritable
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Feeling tired or having trouble sleeping
  • Avoiding things or people
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Drinking or smoking more or less than usual

Overall, you may notice a change in your mood or your physical self. It can be hard to identify these symptoms yourself because you’re living as you (surprise, surprise), and our own thoughts often cloud us. So, a couple of ways to identify these changes are:

1. Speak to somebody you trust and ask them to be honest about whether they’ve noticed any changes in you recently. 

2. Write down every morning how you’re feeling. Look at it over a 3 or 4-day period and recognise any changes or abnormalities.

How to manage stress

There is little you can do to prevent stress, but there are many things you can do to manage stress more effectively and build a resilience. We have found that some of the best ways are:

Physical exercise 

Physical movement or activity is great for lifting your mood and removing tension. Exercise increases the number of endorphins in your body (the feel-good hormone), positively impacting your mood and outlook. 

Physical activity is also a great way to distract your mind from worrying about the future or the past because you focus on the movement of your body, your location, or your destination, even.  Because you’re being physically active, this also helps tire your body, which has the knock-on effect of improving your sleep - which, as we know, is affected by high-stress levels. . You don’t have to go all in and commit to a 10K run; you can go on a leisurely walk, bike ride, or do any exercise you prefer.

Write it down

Get it all out of your head and onto a piece of paper. This method may not work for everyone, but for those who like to visualise and physically see what’s going on, this can be a great way to map out your thoughts and put a plan of action in place. Writing down what’s worrying you or the source of your stress can help psychologically as you remove it from your mind and put it elsewhere. You’re addressing the problem head-on, acknowledging it, and physically putting it in front of you.

Seeing your thoughts can help show you whatever has been on your mind isn’t as big of a problem as you think. As a follow-on from this, create a flow chart, a list, or a diagram of how you will deal with it. Put a plan in place and be kind to yourself with expectation levels. It may be the case that no further action is required; you just need to acknowledge what was happening and see what you’re dealing with.

Bring positive thoughts to the forefront

In stressful situations, our mind does a crafty job of pushing positive thoughts right to the back and, instead, highlights everything negative (in a giant yellow highlighter that overshadows everything else). Try to challenge this process and, rather than allowing negative thoughts to take over, dig deep and allow yourself to think positively. Think about the good things that are present or happening in your life. If it helps, every morning or evening, write them down.

Don’t get frustrated if they don’t come to you straight away. Again, it’s your mind’s way of trying to hide them. There are positive things in your life; you have every right to think about them and let them consume you for a few minutes/hours or the entire day.

Established in 1996, The CPD Certification Service is the largest and leading independent Continuing Professional Development accreditation organisation working across all sectors. Within our Courses Catalogue, we host numerous stress management courses on behalf of our CPD providers that go deeper into stress, specific triggers, and how these can be managed in a personal and work environment.

We hope this article was helpful. If you are looking to become a CPD Provider, please contact our team to discuss your requirements in more detail. Alternatively if you are looking to record your CPD, please go the myCPD Portal where you can manage, track and log your learning in one simple place.

CPD News Team

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