10 Tips to beat stress (by Dr Cate Howell and Dr Michele Murphy)

Do you feel overwhelmed and exhausted by all the demands in your life? Do you spend your time trying to please people and struggle with saying no? Do you find yourself overreacting to small mishaps? If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you are probably stressed. Stress is defined as a response to a demand which we are experiencing, such as dealing with a conflict or dealing with a problem at work. There are many simple strategies people can use to regain balance in their lives and feel less stressed. Try these 10 tips:

1. Relaxation

Relaxation means different things to different people. Relaxation can include simple slow breathing techniques, meditation or active relaxation, like sport. It is important to think about what you find relaxing and build it into your day. For example, some people relax by reading, having a massage, engaging in hobbies, having a hot bath or getting in touch with nature by taking a walk in the country.

2. Do things you value

In today’s world we live in complex times and lead busy and demanding lives. More and more we are realising that we can probably still have it all but not at the same time! Therefore we need to be able to have clear priorities as a way of choosing how we will allocate our precious time and energy when there are so many worthy commitments competing for our attention. Think about what have been the most rewarding parts of your life so far. Think about what has brought you joy, what has inspired you and what gives you meaning. The answers to these questions should lead you to understand what you value the most and if you prioritise these areas you may feel less stressed because you are no longer trying to spread yourself too thin.

3. Connect with family and friends

Good social support can act as a buffer against stress, so surround yourself with people who know how to relax and have fun.

4. Be in the moment

There is a new movement in psychology called mindfulness which emphasises the importance of being fully present at any given moment. By engaging in the present we are less likely to worry about the past or the future. We can also choose to take action in the present moment to decrease our stress levels, whereas we have less control over the past or the future.

5. Use humour

Simple ways to de-stress using humour include: watching your favourite comedy show, listening to what little kids say and trying to see the funny side of a situation.

6. Aim for a healthy lifestyle

Eating healthy foods, getting adequate sleep and regular exercise all assist in helping people cope with daily stressors.

7. Challenge your negative thoughts

Most people have automatic thinking habits that can be unhelpful. Habits such as all-or–nothing thinking, for example “If I don’t get full marks for the test I am a failure.” It is important to learn to substitute these unhelpful thinking patterns with more helpful and realistic thoughts such as “I am an intelligent and valuable person regardless of my test mark.”

8. Learn to say ‘no’ and to prioritize yourself

We often worry that people will not like or approve of us if we do not agree to do what they want. It is okay to say ‘no’ and most people will appreciate your clear boundaries and honesty. It is especially important to decline invitations to do things for others at the expense of yourself.

It is also important to remember that you will have trouble being of any use to anyone if you are stressed to the point that you burn out. Prioritising your own self-care will ensure you are able to take care of your loved ones.

9. Practise gratitude

Even when life is very stressful, we can still be grateful for even the smallest things – the air, the sunshine…… a good cup of tea or coffee! When we practice gratitude we have a brighter and happier outlook on life.

10. Self Compassion

Take comfort in the knowledge that everyone feels stressed at some time and we are all in this together. When you find yourself lacking when you compare yourself to others remember that you are not necessarily privy to the whole picture. It is important to be kind and encouraging to yourself for all your efforts regardless of the outcome.

I would also like to share with you that there is a useful information about managing stress on a range of sites. You might like to check out:


This is a blog on 123 (goodness me!) proven ways to reduce stress and relax, and it is has some fun ideas e.g. singing, decluttering and take time out. (Note – there is a section on supplements, and as advised in the blog, best not to start on any unless you have checked them out with your health practitioner).

Contact Dr Cate

If you would like to speak with me, please contact me via phone, email or the website.

I look forward to talking with you about mental health and wellbeing education, coaching, speaking or writing.


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