HOW do you cope with day-to-day stress?

Good habits can help us deal with small or simple things that so easily throw our equilibrium into turmoil.

1 Practise positive self talk. Recognise the automatic "I'm so stupid" responses that often surface when stressed. Yes, something may have been a mistake, but that doesn't mean you're stupid. We often talk more harshly to ourselves than we would to anyone else. Be kinder to yourself and recognise your stress indicators.

2 Schedule time for things you do well. It's especially important in the midst of tough or difficult times to remind yourself of your skills, talents and abilities. Allow time for things you enjoy and are good at. Sport, DIY, playing an instrument, volunteering can be ways to reintroduce a positive mindset.

3 Pace yourself and identify what can and can't be achieved each day. Don't fight to be invincible or feel a failure if you don't complete everything. Plan to tackle big jobs in stages.

4 Let others help. If you're working long hours or have many demands on your time why not hire help with cleaning, gardening, ironing or with business tasks like PR, accounts and social media. Let your children help; it's good to encourage them to become more independent.

5 "No" can be the most positive word in your vocabulary when used well. "Yes" can be a negative habit if your default means you take on too much work, social engagements or family responsibilities. Are you too eager to please others, appear efficient, successful? Saying no appropriately allows you to maximise your time and focus on priorities.

6 Nurture your relationships. Partners, families, colleagues, friends will often be understanding and supportive if included and asked for help. They may even come up with great ideas and suggestions.

7 Have regular breaks. It may seem counter-intuitive to stop working, but regular breaks allow you to better manage stress and return to work with a fresh perspective and new insights. Support yourself with healthy snacks, water, exercise. Switch off in good time before bed.

8 Accept invitations and offers that take you out of your comfort zone, even if it's simply choosing a different lunch, speaking to someone new, accepting a challenge. Improve your confidence and self belief by expanding your horizons. Let those mini-successes sustain you during difficult times.

Susan Leigh, Altrincham counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer and media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.

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