Thinking is a powerful cognitive tool that can either help or harm your stress levels. Those who struggle with mental health problems, particularly stress and anxiety, find themselves riddled with negative thoughts or habits.

It is even more difficult to effectively manage your stress levels in the workplace and you may find that some colleagues often take a sick day to recharge their batteries or those with prolonged stress issues leave their work entirely.

We have compiled a list of proven strategies and recommendations to effectively combat stress.

Take a step back

Whether it is a pending mortgage payment, or a major deadline, or a busy supermarket lane, stress is unavoidable in our busy lives. For most people it is difficult to tune it out and not get overwhelmed. It takes a powerful amount of mental effort and resolve to pull yourself out of this stressful frame of mind and look at your challenges with a new perspective.

One strategy is to tell yourself to take a deep breath and take a step back. Tell yourself to slow down in that moment and take a few minutes to see where you are and what you can do. When your heart rate is under your control, your breathing is even the feelings of being overwhelmed will wash away and give you the ability to look at the situation from a different perspective.

Get Support

When tensions and anxieties start gnawing into your head constantly and you don’t feel like you can step back, reach out for support. You can discuss your problems with your partner, parents, friends or perhaps even a counselor.

Getting help is important. Talking to someone who you trust and relate to will work wonders at eliminating the stress and it will help build a strong support network.

Keeping a Journal

Recording your feelings in a journal has been lauded as one of the best stress management strategies in volumes of mental health research. Writing about your anxieties can help put things in perspective and help you assess your priorities and feelings in a more objective manner.

The physical act of writing everything down will remove toxic feelings and emotions and give you the ability to reflect and recognise any patterns in your thinking. It is also an inexpensive exercise that you can self-manage.

Focus on the Positive

People who suffer from chronic stress often find comments like “focus on being positive” to be too insensitive, but the truth is that only a positive frame of mind can truly help you regain control. Forcing your brain to focus on a positive frame of mind is much like going to the gym to tone your body. It needs to be done regularly and requires discipline, but we all know it’s worth it in the long run.

One of the best ways to help you focus on the positive and develop this habit is to take note of 3 good things that happened to you every day. It could be something small as “today was a lovely sunny day” to something bigger like “my children went to bed on time”.

Enforce positive thinking at work by creating an open and communicative environment. Supporting team members during stressful periods can reduce sick days and help build strong teams.

Other strategies that can help are:


Aromatherapy uses essential oils, scented candles and natural aromas to create a mood that is uplifting and invigorating for the senses. You can fight off stress with the help of essential oils, particularly lavender, frankincense, sandalwood, rose, orange blossom and geranium.  Regular aromatherapy and even scented baths will help you alleviate anxiety and improve sleep.

Reduced caffeine intake

Coffee often makes people excessively stressful, anxious and jittery. By reducing your caffeine consumption, you will find these symptoms reduce.

Meditation and mindfulness

Establishing a regular yoga regime, accompanied with meditation and mindful breathing exercises will help you build a powerful strategy to combat stressful episodes of anxiety.
They will help you focus on the here and now, instead of replaying thoughts and emotions from the past, or fretting about the future. They will allow you to cultivate an emotional balance and a resolve that will make you feel mentally stronger in challenging situations.

You may be interested in further information about foods that help reduce stress, self-compassion, building self confidence, how what we eat effects our body and mind and the effect of social media on mental health.

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