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Stopping Stress In Its Tracks: What To Do When You Can’t Just ‘Man Up’

A young man using his smartphone in the snow.

When you think about stress or confidence issues, it’s easy to view these as female problems. The truth is that men are just as likely to suffer from the occasional crisis of confidence or bout of stress as women. Often, it’s possible to get over stress, but there may come a time when it’s not just a case of being able to ‘man up.’ If stress is getting the better of you, here are some simple strategies you can try.

Taking a break

One of the most common causes of stress is feeling like you’ve not got enough time to get everything done. This may relate to your personal life, if you’re having trouble finding time to socialize or spend quality time with the family, or your professional life if you’ve got a deadline looming. Some of us thrive under pressure, but there’s nothing enjoyable about feeling like you’re chasing your tail all the time. There’s nothing wrong with volunteering for a bit of overtime from time to time, but there comes a point when enough is enough. If you can’t remember the last time you left the office before 7 o’clock or the last time you had a weekend to yourself, now is the time to act. Don’t wait until you feel like you’re on the brink or you’re wading through mud. Take some annual leave, clear your diary or speak to your boss about lightening the workload. It’s hugely beneficial to have time to just relax and recover. Even if you just have a day of lying on the sofa and watching a boxset or you manage a night away, it can make such a difference.

Rediscovering hobbies and interests

When you’ve got a busy lifestyle, it can be difficult to find time to devote to things you love. We’re so involved with our work lives these days, and this means that hobbies take a back seat. Having interests is actually incredibly beneficial for your mental health because it provides an escape route and it enables you to spend time doing something you enjoy. Nobody should have a life that is all work and no play. If you’ve been stressed out lately and you’re craving a bit of me time, consider rediscovering your interests or taking up a new hobby. Get your Canon EOS Rebel SL2 out of its bag if you love photography or you’re thinking about starting a blog, dust down your fishing rods if you’re keen to spend a day by the water or consider replacing that guitar you threw away to make more space at home. Whatever your interests, doing something you actually want to do, even if it’s just for half an hour every once in a while, can really lift your mood and help you build confidence.

Getting creative

Do you tend to let your emotions get the better of you when you’re under pressure or stress is creeping up on you? If you get angry easily or you find it hard not to get worked up over minor inconveniences, you may find it beneficial to indulge your creative side. Even if you’re not a talented artist or the next best-selling author, doing something creative can enable you to manage your emotions in a more cathartic, controlled manner. Play music, write short stories or songs, paint or start going to art classes. Find an activity you enjoy, and use it to help you manage situations and deal with them more rationally.

Talking it out

Have you ever noticed that girls tend to spend a lot more time talking to their friends than guys? This may be a stereotype, but it’s widely accepted that women are better at talking about their feelings than men. If you tend to bottle things up or you’re not really one for opening up, you’re definitely not alone. The trouble is that keeping things to yourself doesn’t usually help. Talking about what you’re going through or how you’re feeling can actually provide a real sense of relief. You don’t have to try and act manly around your mates all the time. The chances are that they know exactly what you’re going through and you could actually help each other. Another option, if you’re not comfortable talking to people you know, is to have a weekly chat with a therapist. That person is trained to listen and provide advice, they’re not there to judge, and you can use them as a sounding board.

Working up a sweat

If you’re not a seasoned gym-goer, the thought of exercising may not be all that appealing, but don’t dismiss the idea yet. Exercise isn’t just about getting kitted out in lycra and flexing your muscles. There are myriad activities you can try and working up a sweat isn’t always about gaining muscles or sculpting your abs. Sport is a really effective way of dealing with and preventing stress, and it can provide social opportunities. Many people also find that exercise helps them to clear their head and manage anxiety. If you’ve got a busy week ahead or there’s an important client meeting in the diary, going for a run, hitting some bags or playing a game of football with your mates may be just the tonic you need. If you’ve never really been into exercise before, don’t panic about getting started. Everyone was a beginner at one point.

Are you struggling with stress? Are you trying to block it out, but not succeeding? Stress is something most of us have to battle, but it can become a real issue if it’s left untreated. It’s so beneficial to take steps to stop stress in its tracks. Make time for yourself, find a better work-life balance and spend more time doing things you love. Exercise regularly, look after your general health and don’t be afraid to talk to friends, family or a therapist. Try and channel emotions positively and constructively and learn to spot the warning signs. The sooner you start to deal with stress, the better.