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How to eat an elephant, or … how to efficiently get rid of stress

We do not want to become accustomed to stress, but unavoidable situations occur that mean it is present in our lives for some time. Important meetings at work, changing residence, your child has bad school grades, all are difficult situations to avoid but you need to be able to rest somehow. We have a few strategies, which will enable you to fall asleep more easily, despite experiencing difficult emotions, and because you are well-rested, solutions to the problems will begin to flow spontaneously.

It is said that 90% of the situations we fear will never happen. Despite this, we often let ourselves be carried away by creating dark scenarios in our heads. The stress spiral spins easily, like a mill driven by the strength of our tensions, and we become the proverbial “bundle of nerves”. It is worth finding solutions to this spiral, and the process does not have to be tedious work at a specialist.

1. Things written down

Keeping diaries, reminders or schedules are just a few of the things we like to have recorded, often on paper. This is a timeless method of achieving a specific goal. At work, we write pros and cons, at home, we write a daily plan to avoid forgetting anything, we want contracts in writing, and as children, we write our secret dreams or plans in diaries. Why not use this simple method to get rid of anxiety? What is recorded becomes the starting point, takes on power, becomes more real and tangible. When we write down what stresses us at the beginning of moving house or talking to the boss, our mind will take control of the situation, so we’ll be prepared and not overwhelmed by thoughts about chaos or fears of what might happen. The process of writing sets out what will or can happen, thus the stress associated with the unknown will disappear.

2. Things said

Similar to the writing strategy, conversations have a beneficial effect on reducing stress. If you start analysing the sources of your stress, you will probably find that your thoughts are accumulative, that you do not want to show that something has gone wrong, you are ashamed to talk about failures or expose yourself to pity. Meanwhile, according to research, expressing these thoughts to someone close can help us eliminate tensions completely, and their perspective could reveal a solution we had not thought of. So, lower your barriers and you will see that nobody pities you, mocks your situation, nor would your confidant wish you harm. So, try a quick phone call to a friend before attempting to sleep.

3. Things done

“Eat an elephant one bite at a time,” says the proverb. Often in our thoughts, we get entangled in exaggerated ideas about a given situation and blow everything out of proportion. Meanwhile, to get rid of stress and solve a given problem, you should divide it into small achievable stages, just like eating an elephant. When we realise the process of reaching the goal, we will see that we are actually able to rise to the challenge and gradually move step by step on to the next stages, avoiding dark thoughts and an extreme vision of the entire undertaking. Moving house? It is not easy, but when we do it gradually, the stressful impact will be lessened. Talking to the boss? Look at what you have already achieved in the company, how many crises you have experienced, and problems solved. Financial crisis? Write a plan to solve the problem, reduce costs and return to normal. Divide tasks into smaller pieces, and also obstacles that you need to overcome in order to achieve the goal.

You can do all these activities during the day or, if you find it easier, before falling asleep. Remember, however, not to disturb sleep hygiene if possible, so avoid telephones in bed or writing on the computer in the bedroom. Good luck!