• Stephen Baines

How to Manage Your Stress More Effectively

The only constant is change. And change often causes stress.

As our world continues to change both throughout this pandemic and in exciting innovative ways too, our natural uncontrolled response may be the onset of stress. As humans, we all experience the world differently. To some, the pandemic is an onset of loneliness, career and health challenges whereas to others it is an opportunity to do things differently. Similarly, innovation may be experienced by some of us as detrimental to our health and careers whilst others may view it is opportunities. Either way, the commonality is that in some form or other, everyone experiences stress in their own unique ways. Something that is very important as a leader to recognise.

I write this a week after the UK was placed into one of our strongest lockdowns with more restrictions expected imminently. Personally, we have had to curtail childcare from my wife's parents and my own parent's which has naturally impacted on our work.

As a mindfulness teacher, a psychologist in study and a coach, I am fortunate to have an arsenal of tools available to help me cope. Which is why I write these blogs and record these videos to hopefully impart some of these tools and experiences on to you to help in these tough times.

With stress, you have to remember that it is always manageable in some form. You just need to work out what those techniques are for you to help you first recognise when you experiencing stress, what type of stress you are experiencing and finally the activities that help you to overcome that stress. Focusing on both the body and the mind.

Here I explore the techniques around overcoming stress:

Starting a Relaxation Practice

Relaxation is one of the best techniques used to cope with and reduce the symptoms of stress. Relaxation methods have long been utilised for stress management and they prove to be as effective today. Therefore, learning how to relax in the midst of too much stress in your everyday life will mean a world of difference. 

As with anything, starting a relaxation practice is often the biggest hurdle that people are faced with. Once you begin to notice that you seem to quickly lose energy and constantly change your mood, then maybe it's time to re-evaluate yourself because this can be all caused by stress. There are several relaxation activities that help combat stress in your life. These include:

  • Deep breathing techniques

  • Stretching

  • Meditation

  • Yoga

  • Tai chi

To experience the full benefits of such relaxation methods, the key is to dedicate time to first explore those exercise but then find a regular practice that works for you. Just last night I was talking with a coaching client who although prone to giving up at the slightest hurdle, found the structure I provided helpful to set up a relaxation habit. I reminded her of her success so (6 days in a row) whilst also emphasising that if she did ever not feel up to it, to simply just practice for a couple of minutes.

Something is better than nothing.

The key is to take time each day to perform what you find helpful. Only then would you be able to harness its relieving power so you can benefit from stress relief. It does not have to take so much of your time each day, maybe at least 10 minutes to as much as 20 minutes is enough for stress management. 

For better success at developing this practice, take note of the following tips:

  • Determine a given schedule for each day when you can perform these relaxation exercises. If possible, schedule once or twice a day, whichever is most convenient for you. Then, make sure you follow your schedule strictly.

  • Refrain from scheduling your relaxation practices near bedtime since you're sleepiness could get in the way. 

  • Never opt for an exercise method that could stress you out all the more. Find a level of practice that are most comfortable and feel relaxed with. 

  • If you REALLY do not feel up to it, just do something. Even if for just a couple of minutes

Stress Relief Through Deep Breathing

This is one of the easiest and simplest exercises you can perform to achieve stress relief. This technique allows you to get fresh air to get into your lungs. To perform effective deep breathing, follow these methods:

  • Sit straight with one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.

  • Breathe through your nose, enough to make your stomach rise. Make sure that your chest produces little observable movements. 

  • Use your mouth to exhale and push the air out with as much force as possible. 

  • Repeat the same process. Take note of the rise and fall of your lower abdomen. 

Deep breathing is a very powerful practice that helps us to force more oxygen into our brains (hence the focus on breathing in through the nose), helping to ground ourselves

Muscle Relaxation, Yoga and Meditation

For further stress relief, you can perform different relaxation methods that involve your muscles and mind. In muscle relaxation, your objective is to tense and relax the various muscle groups in your body. To do this:

  • Find a comfortable position and start by taking slow and deep breaths

  • Create tension on your body by squeezing them tightly while counting slowly until its time to let go

  • Focus on the release of the tension in a specific body part until you feel relaxed

  • When doing this, start from foot and eventually move upwards. 

Yoga and meditation are also two other techniques used in stress management methods. These are associated with slow and steady movements, as well as gentle stretching. This practice is best for relieving tension in the body and mind, which is why it is recommended for stress relief practices. 


There is nothing better than giving your brain a dopamine hit by smashing out an exercise routine. Whether going out for a run, a long-walk, peloton, body-weight exercises. The list goes on. The key is once again, finding what works for you and knowing when you have the freedom to go and pursue it

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