Stress: Prevention is Better Than Cure


"Stress: An Ounce of Prevention is Better than Cure"

By Dr Darryl Cross

Leadership Coach & Psychologist

We call it “stress,” but it comes in many forms such as emotional symptoms (e.g., anxiety, depression), physical symptoms (stomach-ache, headache, sleeplessness, fatigue) as well as the cognitive aspects (inability to concentrate, poor decision-making).

We have all been there whether it has been due to the workplace, the domestic environment, the social setting (or a combination of all three) or some other situation or circumstance.

But as they say, prevention is better than cure, so what are the ways that we can immunise ourselves against stress in this day and age.


1. Seek and Eliminate

Take a few minutes either at the end of the day or at the beginning of the day to identify stressors in your life and find ways to reduce or eliminate them altogether. A client of mine identified that he spends at least half an hour in the car both to and from work and feels constrained about both taking and making calls on his mobile phone because he does not have a hands-free set. Solution? He is now exploring how to get a hands-free set in his car so that he can leverage his time by making calls while he is driving.


2. Flip to the Positive

Because life is generally in the fast lane for most people, they tend to react by coping with stress in negative or self destructive ways such as drinking, taking drugs, or overeating. Instead, be kind to yourself and commit to a 10 day trial to replace these destructive behaviours with more positive, healthful ways of managing stress. What's the worst thing that could happen? You might even find a better lifestyle or ways to cope with stress that you hadn't thought of before. Just 10 days – it's not a lifetime.


3. Get to Love Lists

For some, it might seem somewhat obsessive, but it seems clear that people who keep lists of things to do really do end up doing more things. Of course, you could use the good old pencil and paper, but you could also use your i-phone to keep lists of things that you need to do. If you were really tec savvy, your devices such as your mobile phone, computer and i-pad for example, could all synchronise which might make your life a whole lot easier.

4. Bullet-proof Yourself

Whether it is through exercise such as jogging, cycling, or going to the gym, there is no doubt that physical activity relieves stress. Furthermore, thought management techniques, relaxation procedures including visualisations all allow you to become more resilient in order to face stressors without the full impact of the stress itself. It's called right preparation and you'll be surprised how you will feel inwardly in being able to cope with whatever comes along.

5. Planning Makes Perfect

At the close of the day (or some people prefer the first thing in the morning), spend about 10 minutes planning your day. Of course, your day never runs exactly as you might have planned it, but irrespective, your brain isn't as frazzled if you have a plan in place. Your brain will automatically relax more if it's not juggling all your "stuff" and you have it down on paper instead. You will waste less time, get more done and feel less stretched. This is such a simple technique so it's surprising so few use it.


6. Plan the Big Picture

Every six months, be prepared to look at the big picture and plan your future in terms of your career, your family, your social life, your spiritual life, your health, and your finances. It's all about exercising more control over your life and there is little doubt, that the more control you have, the less stress you will feel.


[Dr Darryl Cross is a clinical and organisational psychologist as well as a credentialed executive and personal coach. He is also an author, international speaker and university lecturer. Dr Darryl is about assisting people to find their strengths and reach their goals. Further information on Dr Darryl can be seen at ]