As a young man, I had struggled with anxiety and stress. As a result, I was unable to pursue what I wished to pursue and did what I wanted to do. Seeking guidance from self-help books enabled me to help myself. As I gained control over stress, I later learned techniques to help others as well. Those techniques I found useful I had practised them myself to control stress as well as teach them to clients.

Itemised below are 6 tips on how you can regulate your stress response. These are the tips that would work for you today especially with the stress coming from the COVID pandemic. It’s a great way to strengthen the psychological and physiological resources you have and to bolster your resilience against stress.

1. Do a mindfulness practise daily

It has been shown that 5 to 10 minutes of mindfulness practice can make a significant difference to your entire day, helping you to be more focused, increasing your productivity and generally helping you to be calmer when you have to face stressful situations. So, make it a habitual practice and do it daily.

After your mindfulness practice, take another 10 minutes and review your life’s objectives and your vision and mission statements. This will help you to improve your ability to centre your thoughts in a positive direction. As you go through your day and face the daily grind, you are not only calmer, but you will make better decisions. You are not just reacting to circumstances, you are acting and choosing to act because you are clear about your priorities.

Do take these 20 minutes to allow your brain to function optimally. It does certainly impact your day and your life positively as the experiences of countless people can attest to. It is a good routine to help you order your day right so that you will not be trapped by circumstances to react in unhelpful ways.

Start today and try, you will find such a practice highly beneficial to yourself and to the work you have to do. This meditative reflection combined with mindfulness practice will lead you to have more energy and focus leading your entire day to be extraordinarily more meaningful. Stress should not be a feature of your thought life.

2. Adopt a positive perspective to your life

Nothing helps you to be positive than an attitude of being able to see the upside of everything. A good way to do this is to maintain a gratitude journal. If you are religious express gratitude to a higher power for everything that you experience including all negative ones. You will feel uplifted, and you start to see your negative experiences in broader perspectives that are less stressful. That’s what being grateful for everything can do for you. You begin to realize that every negative experience carries with it a positive underlay, but you have to focus, confront it and look for it.

Gratefulness has other benefits as well. It will improve your sleep, improve your mood and feelings of happiness besides reducing your stress. If you are at risk for burnout or suffering from the effects of psychological trauma, it can reduce your symptoms and give you hope for the future. Above all else, it makes you resilient to stress and ill-health.

This is what mindfulness and the meditative practice including gratitude recommended above can do for you. It does certainly counter stress and give your life and your experience a positive spin. By adopting a grateful stance to life, you have adopted a perspective to see everything in a positive light. When that happens, as you go through each day, you will have a sense of serendipity and calm as you go through your usual routine. So your stress will disappear.

3. Limit your time on the internet especially on social media.

Scrolling through social media feeds is a daily addiction for many. It feeds our needs for novelty, distraction, and amusement and nothing else. It leads to bad habits such as procrastination, inactivity as far as your objectives are concerned and a waste of time. It is the most unproductive time of your day unless you can turn it around and use it for marketing if you are indeed doing it.

The fact is even if you are marketing, much of the social media feeds you feed your mind on, is unproductive and irrelevant for your purpose. If you want to be up to date on social media trends for your business, you are better off relying on expert reports on that. These are easily available and produced by people with relevant expertise.

That’s not to say that you do not look at social media. If you are reviewing your Facebook ads stats, or the views on your Facebook page/group and posting new content, by all means, do it. Do take some time to research what others are doing, but do not spend more time going through content that is irrelevant for an extended period. That’s a great way to reduce your stress.

4. Be physically active.

Nothing can be more debilitative to your health than to totally adopt a sedentary lifestyle. Granted that a lot of jobs are sedentary, but that does not have to be your lifestyle. If your work requires you to be active and up and about, great. If not, try to be active by aiming to be active physically. You can do so by walking instead of driving or taking public transport. Walk up the stairs instead of the lift/elevator. Use a tracker, now easily available to monitor the steps you walked daily. Aim for 10,000 steps daily and if you can reach 75,000 steps, that is probably good enough.

Try to budget time weekly for exercise as much as possible. Activities such as brisk walking, running, jogging, cycling and swimming are excellent. See if you can join friends and others to play a game such as ball games like tennis, squash etc. They help you to maintain muscle strength and muscular coordination. If you golf, try to walk instead of using the buggy.

Exercise has the effect of burning up the hormones associated with stress. An active lifestyle with physical activities can go a long way to reduce your stress levels, increase your resilience by making your body more resistant to stress symptoms and make you feel good and positive about yourself. As Nike says, Just Do It.

5. Be concerned about your food intake.

Food is an essential part of keeping us alive, and the proper use of nutrition can keep you healthy right through old age. Adopt healthy eating habits such as consuming more vegetable foods and limiting fats, simple carbohydrates, processed foods and deep-fried foods. Fruits in reasonable amounts as they can load you with sugars if you are not careful. Watch your consumption of sugary drinks and alcohol. They are pure calories.

Take dietary supplements as appropriate depending on your health profile and your family history. Today, there is an emphasis on anti-ageing supplementation which supplements your body chemistry because they have fallen into less optimum levels as a result of ageing. Certainly, they can help you to maintain youthfulness and more importantly, help maintain an active lifestyle that will keep illnesses at bay. But do consult the appropriate experts as most medical doctors are too focused on curative treatments rather than on preventive strategies such as anti-ageing.

Unhealthy foods stress your body biochemically. A healthy diet provides you with the chemical support that allows your body to mobilise resources to help with stress and disease. So, eat well and live well, to a ripe old age. Enjoy!

6. Be involved socially in human interaction.

The more people you meet daily the more it adds to your longevity. So, get out and meet people, smile and greet as many as you can. The connection with people gives you the social ballast to support psychological and physiological wellbeing. Besides meeting people casually, get into conversation with some people especially those you know personally, where available and convenient.

When you communicate with people in conversation, and the interaction is pleasant, it gives you a sense of being supported especially if the interaction is pleasant and joyful. Even if the conversation is not about any of the problems you are facing, the fact that you have a pleasant and joyful interaction will serve to cancel out any stress that you may feel at that moment.

Verbal conversation is further strengthened if accompanied by pleasurable activities such as sharing a meal together, working together or enjoying a fun activity together. And that’s what you should try to do when you connect and relate with people. Make it fun, make it a happy occasion. You will forget about stress if you do it.

So, there you are. The above tips are not about finding time for additional activities so that you can rightfully say, “I have no time!”. These tips are for you to do things differently, and to work them into your life schedule. If you implement them, you will find that you have more time because you are more productive.

The result is your life can be more pleasurable and enjoyable. You will have time for the finer things of life that besides enjoying a life of meaning and purpose, it will make you happy, whatever that means for you. Your stress will disappear entirely.