Expert tips on how to better manage stress

Expert tips on how to better manage stress

Don’t let stress rob you of enjoying your life. Dr Happy Setsiba, a Clinical Psychologist, offers tips to help you better deal with stress. 

Stressed woman
Stressed woman/ iStock

November 4 is 'Stress Awareness Day'. Millions of people around the world suffer from stress.

High-stress levels have been linked to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

READ: World Mental Health Day: How to manage your mental illness

Clinical Psychologist Dr Happy Setsiba says it is important to first recognise what is stressing you. “As soon as you have identified the sources of stress in your life, you can know what to do." 

One of the best tools that she recommends to help you identify the causes of your stress is a journal. She says you need to keep a stress journal and check what triggered your stress and how you were able to calm down afterwards. 

“Remember stress is a response, mainly of your mind. As soon as you perceive something as difficult or yourself not being able to cope with it, then you begin to stress.”

However, she says you must write in your journal when you are calm and can think rationally, not during the time when you are stressing. She adds that this will make you “feel a lot more like you are more in control.”  

The Clinical Psychologist says it is also important to understand what the effects of stress are and understand that there is something that you can do to change the way you see things.

To better deal with stress, Dr Setsiba says “keeping a positive attitude, exercising and eating well” is key.

Apart from those, she says “there are four A’s in coping with stress - avoid, alter, accept and adapt.”


“There are things that you can avoid. For instance, if you have people that always say things that you don’t like or that stress you out, you can always avoid them,” advises the Clinical Psychologist.


“If you realise that you cannot avoid certain situations because it is not always possible to avoid, alter the way you go about it.”

She says, for example, things like writing an exam cannot be avoided, but you can alter the way you look at it. Instead of being anxious, you can do your part and know that the rest is out of your hands.


“There are a lot of things that you can’t change. For example, if you feel this day will be overwhelming for you, just accept that this day will come, and it will pass. You must know that stress is not an experience that will last forever. You can either decide if those things that stress you should stress you forever, or you can change the way you see them or simply accept that there are certain things you can’t do,” says the Clinical Psychologist.

“If you start to accept that you can’t change certain things, you will have more options.”

She adds that this will also help you better deal with the situation. “How you behave afterwards will change,” says Dr Setsiba.

She adds that accepting that you can’t change certain things will give you peace and you will start to see other opportunities.

Setsiba warns against taking on too much work than you can handle.  

“Taking too many tasks at the same time will land people in hot water in most cases,” says Dr Setsiba.

She says it will lead to stress and this is why it is important to prioritise and to learn to be assertive. 

“Know your limits. Know how much you can take. Don’t take more than what you know you can.” 

She warns that “some people are not assertive. They are not able to say no and they end up stressed. Know your limits. Know how to say no and make peace with it. Remember you are only one person. You are not 100 people. Prioritise tasks.” 


"Sometimes people are stressed not because of the way things are but it is because of the standards that they have set for themselves. Sometimes they set very high standards and have high expectations. If you start adapting to how things work, you start to reframe the way you see things," says the Clinical Psychologist. 

She says it is important to check what you can do to change your situation. Come up with practical solutions.

READ: DrD on how to plan for year-end holidays that bring more joy than stress

Image courtesy of iStock/ @nensuria

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