Sir Cary Lynn Cooper, CBE FAcSS, is an American-born British psychologist and 50th Anniversary Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at the Manchester Business School, University of Manchester
If stress is a problem, whether related to work or to your personal life, identifying the source will help. According to Professor Cary Cooper, the key to effective stress management is having control of your situation, enjoying a good social life, building your emotional strength and having a positive outlook. “In life, there’s always a solution to a problem. Not taking control of the situation and doing nothing will only make your problems worse.”
Check out Professor Cooper’s 10 stress-busting recommendations:
Take more exercise:
Although exercise will not obliterate your stress, it will help to clear your thoughts and direct your energy in a positive direction.
Be in control
Be in charge of your actions, thoughts and time. Read tips on how to manage your time.
Confide, connect and talk with others
A problem shared is often a problem solved. It’s good to talk and share your worries. Other viewpoints can help to change your perspective on worries and concerns.
“Talking things through with a friend will also help you find solutions to your problems,” advises Professor Cooper. Read about some other ways relationships help our wellbeing.
Schedule ‘me time’
“We all need to take some time for socialising, relaxation or exercise,” says Professor Cooper.
Set achievable goals
“By continuing to learn, you become more emotionally resilient as a person. It arms you with knowledge and makes you want to do things rather than be passive, such as watching TV” says Professor Cooper.
So why not learn a new sport or language – challenge yourself.
Say no to unhealthy habits
Monitor alcohol, smoking and coffee intake, “We call this avoidance behaviour. It’s like putting your head in the sand,” says Professor Cooper. “It may provide temporary relief, but it won’t make the problems disappear. You need to tackle the cause of your stress.” Over the long term, these crutches won’t solve your problems – they will create new ones.
Help other people
Evidence indicates that people who help others through activities such as community and voluntary work become more resilient. “Helping people who are often in situations worse than yours will help you put your problems into perspective,” says Professor Cooper. “The more you give, the more resilient and happy you feel.”
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 a smile to someone sad on a grey day.
See more on giving for mental wellbeing.
Be smart about your work time.
Prioritising your work and concentrate on the tasks that will make a real difference.
“Leave the least important tasks to last,” says Cooper.
Read some tips on how to manage your time better.
Aim to be more positive – a glass half-full is better than a glass half-empty
“People don’t always appreciate what they have. Look for the positive aspects of your life and what life presents to you.” adds Professor Cooper. At the end of the day, write three good things that happened throughout the day.
Listen to an audio guide on beating unhelpful thinking.
Accept the things you just can’t change
Concentrate on the things you do have control over as it is not always possible to change a difficult situation.
Says Professor Cooper. “In a situation like losing your job for example, focus on the things that you can control, such as looking for a new job.”
Take a look at the NHS digital apps library of stress-busting apps