Stress. What is it and how can we cope with it?

Despite the word first being used in medical research as late as the 1930s, it is not a modern phenomenon. At its root is the adrenaline-charged ‘fight or flight’ response that all animals have to various triggers.

These triggers can be both physical and psychological and in a vicious circle, the symptoms brought on by our reactions to them – fear, insomnia, sociopathy – can induce further stress if left unchecked.

Chronic stress can be debilitating, potentially leading to mental illness and depression, and – while we don’t wish to add to your worries – research shows that you are likely to experience greater levels of stress as you get older (which, in case you hadn’t noticed, you are).

In this article, a departure from our usual knockabout style, we offer some simple and effective techniques to restore homeostasis – the natural balance of the internal bodily environment.

So whether you’re stressed about work, friends, family, neighbours, ill-health or money, take a deep breath and join us for this, the Deserter Guide to Calm.

Here we go…

1. Have you considered a pint?

2. Do a bit more of what you like and a bit less of what you don’t.

3. If you insist on wearing shoes at least wear comfortable ones.

4. Can you do anything about the cause of any concerns? If not, don’t worry about it. If so, do it tomorrow. After a lovely pint.

5. Or maybe a glass of wine?

6. Remember, everything is better after a night’s sleep.

7. Break your travel routine: Take a different route, walk a stop, leave at a different time, stay in bed.

8. Talk. Talk to your friends. If you don’t have any friends, talk to strangers. If you don’t have any strangers, talk to yourself. If you talk to yourself, ask you if you fancy a pint.

9. Play music. Music improves the performance of both the autonomic nervous system and the limbic system and is an invaluable aid to relaxation. Try grindcore or Mongolian throat singing.

10. Be kind, particularly to yourself. And once you’ve done that, be kind to others. Recent studies show that acts of kindness make you feel good and reduce stress. Yes, why not buy someone else a pint?

11. We are all going to die. We don’t know when. Do you want to die thirsty?

Well, do you?

12. Play a game. Gaming is a reminder that we’re all essentially on Earth to mess about.

13. Never arrange to do anything before 10.40am

14. Travel. It broadens emotional horizons, helps you tune in to the human condition and gets you nearer to licensed premises.

15. Sit beside water. The light reflects upwards into your eyes which lightens the cells in your brain and therefore your mind. That’s just science.

16. Are they open yet?

17. Tea. Whatever it was you were about to do, stop it and have a cup of tea.

18. How about a nice spliff?

19. Draw something. Drawing forces you to take particular notice of the elements of your surroundings. Try drawing your pint.

20. Set aside a day for doing fuck all.

Working from home

21. Get lost. It helps you find yourself.

22. Move. Keep moving. Change is life, stasis is death and death is a worry. Unless you fancy a good sit down, in which case forget all that.

23. Seek out something beautiful. (See Point 1).

24. Create something: A poem, a song, a mess.

25. Laugh. Find someone who makes you laugh and keep them close. Steal their jokes and make others laugh.

26. Drop an E.

27. Chat someone up.

28. Wear a funny hat.

29. Rub one out.

30. Take a nap.

31. You are what you eat, so eat something calming like a lovely curry or double egg, bacon and chips.

32. Don’t believe anything anyone ever tells you. Especially on the Internet.

33. Imagine yourself doing nothing. And then do it.

34. Every so often, get on a random train that’s going in the opposite direction.

35. Arrive early for appointments and spend a little extra time with a special someone – you.

36. Walk. Walking frees the mind, is great cardio exercise and lowers levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and – oh, look, is that a pub?

Oh, look, is that a pub?

37. Never run for public transport.

38. Take your time. It’s exactly that – yours.

39. Once a month, leave your phone at home and go dancing.

40. Don’t buy things you don’t need. Except maybe another pint.

41. Speak softly. Let them come to you. A wise man once said, ‘He who speaketh in a mere whisper is one who is worth listening to’. At least, I think that’s what he said.

42. Book a holiday. You don’t need to take it, just book it. Then take it.

43. Get some sun. It’s good for the bones, good for the immune system and good for pub gardens.

44. Whose round is it?

45. Shake up your wardrobe. A change is as good as a vest.

46. If you love someone, let them know. A text will do.

47. See if they want to come to the pub.

The eternal flame

48. Do a jigsaw. If you think your life is shit now, try putting together a 2000 piece picture of a steam train.

49. Buy a hammock and try some gardening.

50. Have one for the road. Maybe that 8% oatmeal stout?

51. Oh, balls. I knew there was something to worry about: Hangovers. Remain calm and return to Point 31.


One last tip – put your feet up and listen to our podcast:

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Image credits: Main image by James Savage, used under this licence; Here we go by Firesam! used under this licence; Well, do you? by MsPxl, used under this licence; Working from home by Tim Parkinson, used under this licence; Oh, look, is that a pub? by Pat O’Malley, used under this licence