The Dos and Don’ts of stress management

This article sums up the key points of stress management. It is a quick reference section – read through the lists whenever your life seems to be tilting off course so that you can get back on the right track quickly.


• Do take action. Anxious worrying will not solve your problems, so stop dithering around and do something positive.
• Do watch what you think and say. Negative words and phrases can hold you back and make you depressed. Think positive.
• Do watch your diet. Cut down on stimulants such as coffee, alcohol, sugar and junk food.
• Do be assertive. Say ‘No’ when you need to.
• Do have some comic relief. Avoid taking life too seriously; learn to appreciate the lighter side.
• Do manage your time efficiently. Planning ahead will give you more time to do what you want.
• Do pamper yourself. Take time out during the day just for you.
• Do express yourself. Try to build bridges rather than barriers; a quick chat with a friend may be all that you need.
• Do a stress ‘clean out’ at the end of every week. Think about what has caused you stress recently and reassess what you can do to eliminate the causes.
• Do seek professional help, if necessary. Recognise the danger signs and take action.


• Don’t expect the worst to happen. What you believe often actually occurs.
• Don’t overeat or use drugs, drink or tobacco as ways of running away from your problems.
• Don’t allow others to take advantage of you. Be assertive and stand up for your rights.
• Don’t put off dealing with stressful situations until they come to a head. Act now.
• Don’t try to be a superperson. Your best is good enough.
• Don’t bottle up your anger or frustration. This can lead to destructive behaviour. If necessary, and if possible, shout, scream or punch a pillow.
• Don’t allow work to take over your life. Take time to plan a balanced lifestyle.
• Don’t blame others as this is a waste of energy. Recognise that there is a problem and do something about it.
• Don’t procrastinate and wait for stress to disappear by itself. If you do, it will only get worse.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it from family, friends or professionals.

A last word on stress

At the beginning of stress management I explained that I wanted you to regard this as your personal tool box for handling stress. Take from the bits you require, and ignore the bits for which you have no need. However, like all tool boxes, it may not have just the right spanner or wrench for your problem. If that is the case, seek help from one of the therapists listed on this site.

If stress management has helped you to see that your life does not have to go on the way it has, then it has succeeded. And I do hope that it has given you the determination to restore some balance to your life and to reduce your stress to a minimum so that you become happier, healthier and more fulfilled.

Text Copyright © Alix Needham
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