Tips to manage your stress. Despite the fact that it might seem impossible, there are things you can do to reduce stress at work and at home and regain control.
The importance of managing stress
Your overall health is in danger if you are under a lot of stress every day. Both your physical and emotional well-being are negatively impacted by stress. Your capacity to think clearly, work effectively, and have fun is reduced. It might appear that there is nothing you can do to relieve stress. There will never be more hours in the day, the bills won’t stop coming in, and your work and family obligations will always be demanding. However, you are much more in control than you might realise.
In order to be happier, healthier, and more productive, effective stress management enables you to release the grip that stress has on your life. The ultimate goal is to live a balanced life that includes time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun—as well as the fortitude to withstand stress and face challenges head-on. But there is no one solution for stress management. Experiment to determine what works best for you in this regard. The advice provided below can assist you in achieving that.
Tip 1: Identify the sources of stress in your life
Finding the sources of your stress is the first step in managing it. This is more complicated than it seems. Finding the causes of persistent stress can be more challenging than identifying major stressors like job changes, relocation, or divorce. It’s all too simple to ignore how your own thoughts, feelings, and actions affect how stressed you are all the time.
Even though you may be aware that you worry about work deadlines constantly, the stress may actually be coming from your procrastination rather than the demands of your job.
Look closely at your routines, outlook, and justifications to determine your true sources of stress:
- Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?
- Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”)?
- Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?
Your level of stress will continue to be out of your control until you take accountability for your part in causing or maintaining it.
Start a stress journal
You can identify the constant sources of stress in your life and the coping mechanisms you employ by keeping a stress journal. Use a stress tracker on your phone or record it in your journal each time you feel stressed. Keeping a daily journal will help you spot trends and recurring themes.
- What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure).
- How you felt, both physically and emotionally.
- How you acted in response.
- What you did to make yourself feel better.
Tip 2: Practice the 4 A’s of stress management
While your nervous system automatically reacts to stress, some stressors happen at predictable times, such as your commute to work, a meeting with your boss, or family gatherings. You can either alter the circumstance or alter your response when dealing with such predictable stressors. It’s useful to consider the four A’s when deciding which course of action to take in any given situation: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.
The four A’S
|The four A’s – Avoid, Alter, Adapt & Accept|
|Avoid unnecessary stress|
|It’s not healthy to avoid a stressful situation that needs to be addressed, but you may be surprised by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.|
|Learn how to say “no.” Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress. Distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts” and, when possible, say “no” to taking on too much.|
|Avoid people who stress you out. If someone consistently causes stress in your life, limit the amount of time you spend with that person, or end the relationship.|
|Take control of your environment. If the evening news makes you anxious, turn off the TV. If traffic makes you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online.|
|Pare down your to-do list. Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.|
|Alter the situation|
|If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.|
|Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, be more assertive and communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the stress will increase.|
|Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.|
|Create a balanced schedule. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary pursuits, daily responsibilities and downtime.|
|Adapt to the stressor|
|If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.|
|Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.|
|Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.|
|Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”|
|Practice gratitude. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.|
|Accept the things you can’t change|
|Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.|
|Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control, particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.|
|Look for the upside. When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.|
|Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.|
|Share your feelings. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist.|
Tip 3: Get moving
The last thing you probably want to do when you’re stressed out is get up and work out. But engaging in physical activity is a great way to reduce stress, and you don’t need to be an athlete or spend all day in the gym to reap its rewards. Exercise makes you feel good and can help you forget about your daily worries by releasing feel-good endorphins.
Although exercising for at least 30 minutes on a regular basis will give you the greatest benefits, you can gradually increase your level of fitness. Even very minor tasks can add up throughout the course of the day. The first thing to do is to get moving. Here are a few simple ways to fit exercise into your daily routine:
- Put on some music and dance around
- Take your dog for a walk.
- Walk or cycle to the grocery store.
- Use the stairs at home or work rather than an elevator.
- Park your car in the farthest spot in the lot and walk the rest of the way.
- Pair up with an exercise partner and encourage each other as you work out.
- Play ping-pong or an activity-based video game with your kids.
The stress-busting magic of mindful rhythmic exercise
While almost any physical activity can help reduce stress and tension, rhythmic activities are particularly powerful. Walking, running, swimming, dancing, cycling, tai chi, and aerobics are all recommended. To increase your likelihood of persistence, make sure whatever you decide to do is something you enjoy.
Make a conscious effort to pay attention to your body and the physical (and occasionally emotional) sensations you feel as you move while exercising. For instance, concentrate on breathing in time with your movements or pay attention to how the air or sunlight feels against your skin. The addition of this mindfulness component will assist you in ending the cycle of unfavourable thoughts that frequently follows extreme stress.
Tip 4: Connect to others
Nothing can calm you down more than spending time with a person who makes you feel safe and understood. In actuality, face-to-face communication sets off a hormonal chain reaction that blocks the body’s protective “fight-or-flight” response. It is a naturally occurring stress reliever (as an added bonus, it also helps stave off depression and anxiety). So make it a point to communicate with family and friends frequently and in person.
Do not assume that the people you talk to can alleviate your stress. Simply put, they must be attentive listeners. And try not to let concerns about coming off as helpless or burdensome prevent you from being open. Your trust in those who are important to you will make them feel honoured. It will only make your bond stronger.
Although it’s not always practical to have a friend nearby to turn to when you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, you can increase your resilience to life’s stressors by creating and maintaining a network of close friends.
Tip 5: Make time for fun and relaxation
You can lessen stress in your life in addition to taking charge and having a positive outlook by scheduling “me” time. Don’t let life’s busyness overwhelm you to the point where you neglect to take care of your own needs. Self-care is a requirement, not a luxury. You’ll be better equipped to deal with life’s stresses if you routinely schedule time for enjoyment and relaxation.
Make time for leisure. Incorporate downtime into your daily schedule. Don’t let other commitments interfere. You should take a break from all obligations during this time to refuel.
Every day, engage in enjoyable activity. Whether it’s stargazing, piano playing, or working on your bike, schedule time for your favourite pastimes.
Do not lose your humour. This includes the capacity for self-aware humour. Your body can combat stress in a number of ways by laughing.
Start practising relaxation. The relaxation response, which is the opposite of the fight-or-flight or mobilisation stress response, is triggered by relaxation practises like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. Your stress levels will decrease as you learn and apply these techniques, and your body and mind will become relaxed and in-tune.
Tip 6: Manage your time better
Having trouble managing your time can be very stressful. It’s challenging to remain composed and concentrated when you’re overextended and behind schedule. Additionally, you’ll be tempted to forgo or reduce all the healthy activities you should be engaging in to manage your stress, such as socialising and getting enough sleep. The good news is that you can take steps to strike a better work-life balance.
Don’t take on too much. Avert scheduling events back-to-back and cramming too much into a single day. We frequently underestimate the time it will take to complete tasks.
Make tasks a priority. Make a list of the things you need to do, and then prioritise them. Do the most important things first. Get things done quickly if they are particularly unpleasant or stressful. Your day will be more enjoyable for the remainder of it as a result.
Organize tasks into manageable steps. Create a step-by-step plan if a big project seems overwhelming. Instead of tackling everything at once, concentrate on taking one manageable step at a time.
Distribute authority. Whether at home, school, or work, you don’t have to handle everything on your own. Why not let others handle the task if they are capable of doing so? Give up trying to oversee or manage every single detail. In the process, you’ll be letting go of needless stress.
Tip 7: Maintain balance with a healthy lifestyle
Regular exercise is just one healthy lifestyle choice that can help you become more stress-resistant.
Adopt a balanced diet. Be mindful of what you eat because properly nourished bodies are better equipped to handle stress. With a healthy breakfast and balanced, nutrient-rich meals throughout the day, you can keep your energy levels high and your mind sharp.
Cut back on sugar and coffee. The brief “highs” that caffeine and sugar produce frequently lead to a slump in attitude and energy. You’ll feel more at ease and get better sleep if you cut back on coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugary snacks.
Avoid using drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol may make it simple to get away from stress, but the relief is only transient. Deal with problems honestly and openly; don’t skirt around or hide them.
Get adequate rest. Both your body and your mind benefit from getting enough sleep. Being exhausted will make you more stressed because it might make you think erroneously.
Tip 8: Learn to relieve stress in the moment
You need a way to control your stress levels right away if you’re stressed out from your morning commute, sitting through a stressful meeting at work, or exhausted from yet another argument with your spouse. Quick stress relief can help with that.
Taking a deep breath, using your senses—what you see, hear, taste, and touch—or engaging in a relaxing movement are the quickest ways to reduce stress. You can easily unwind and concentrate on yourself by, for instance, gazing at a favourite picture, inhaling a certain scent, listening to a favourite song, chewing on some gum, or cuddling a pet.
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Of course, not everyone reacts the same way to different sensory experiences. The secret to effective stress relief is to experiment and identify the special sensory experiences that suit your needs best.