Whether it is derived from work, finances, relationships, or the latest pandemic, stress affects everyone. But stress, especially chronic stress, can create true health issues, including high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety disorders, and even depression. When this happens, it can cause a cascade of other problems–mentally, physically, and emotionally. We need to learn to manage stress better.
It starts by recognizing triggers and finding a relaxation outlet, so you can decrease your stress levels and find some peace. Try these four tips to help you better manage stress for a happier, healthier lifestyle.
4 Tips to Manage Stress
1. Manage Your Time Wisely
One major contributor to stress is poor time management. The feeling of being overloaded with tasks and projects can become overwhelming. Before you know it, that short to-do list has become a heavy burden that you can’t control. If you tend to procrastinate, you know this pain and stress all too well.
However, you can train yourself to develop healthy time management skills. For instance, the tasks you tend to delay are often dreaded ones. One way to overcome procrastination, as Mark Twain famously put it, is to “eat the frog“, or take on your most dreaded task first thing in the morning. Completing the worst part of your day first is a great way to improve your time management.
After eating the frog, prioritize your remaining tasks. Ask yourself what’s urgent and what can wait. It may be that a work report is due at the end of the day when you’re supposed to be meeting friends for drinks. You need to decide which takes precedence and, hopefully, you haven’t procrastinated.
Lastly, break down each task to understand how long each will take to complete. It often helps to work backward from the task’s deadline, breaking it down into steps and assigning exact hours or days you intend to work.
Essentially, create a realistic schedule and stick to it as best you can. At the end of the day, however, don’t feel guilty about certain tasks that you couldn’t get to or accomplish.
2. Schedule Time for Hobbies and Activities
Find a hobby or activity you enjoy and pencil in time for it. Hobbies allow you to get in touch with your inner self and leave you satisfied with life. Both mental and physical hobbies force your brain to forget about work and stimulate you in other ways.
A hobby can be as simple as curling up in bed with a good book each night, or it can be as sweaty as rock climbing on the weekends with friends. If you’re artistic, make jewelry or knit scarves. You can even try out meditation painting through pastels, watercolors, or diamond art kits to truly decompress from stress.
You can also broaden your social circles by signing up for a class or joining a sports team. Get to know others who share the same interests and passions. Sometimes, putting money into a class forces us to make the most of it and holds us accountable. And you never know–you could make a close friend who’ll be there as someone to lean on during stressful times.
It’s challenging to find time for a hobby, especially if you feel overworked already. But taking on a hobby or learning a new skill can help you manage your stress by relaxing the mind and engaging the spirit. So, find out what interests you, commit to specific days of the week, and set some time aside when you get home to unwind.
3. Be Kinder to Yourself
Each of us is human, and we all make mistakes. Try not to sweat the little stuff and realize that there are even some events that are out of your control. Forgot to check off a task on your to-do list? It’s okay. It can wait until tomorrow.
One way to be kinder to yourself is to remove negative self-talk or thoughts. Instead of saying to yourself, “I can’t do this,” turn it around with “I’ll try the best I can.” Taking a positive outlook helps you to better manage stressful situations.
The trick here, however, is not to confuse blame with responsibility. In other words, you can still own up to responsibilities, but don’t place blame on yourself or question your self-worth.
Besides being positive, there are many more ways you can be kinder to yourself. For instance, you can also learn to be more assertive. When you hold your tongue or become angry or passive, it can bottle up inside and create unwanted stress. But by speaking up, you can voice your feelings and opinions, which exudes self-worth and self-respect.
4. Find Support
When you feel stressed, it helps to find support through friends and family. Spending time with those you feel comfortable around can lighten the load in many ways. Even if you just want to vent about something that troubles or frustrates you, a strong support system can be a great shoulder to lean on, or even cry on, during tough times.
You can also find a support group. For example, this works well for new moms who feel the stress of raising a child and need advice. Support groups are also beneficial for holding each other accountable. If you lead a busy lifestyle, remember that you can find support groups online through social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, or any number of online forums.
The Bottom Line
The point is, even if you can’t meet in person for a chat over coffee, you can always reach out to those you know and trust. Text a friend or your mom. They’ll always lend a digital ear. Not only will it relieve some tension, but they could also offer advice and make you laugh.
Also, avoid only reaching out during stressful times. Instead, make a habit of calling friends and family to check on them as well.
Science shows us how to deal with stress. Here’s how.
Medical News Today: Managing Stress https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323324#managing-stress
Longevity Live: Stress and sleepless nights? Here’s what to do: https://www.longevitylive.com/anti-aging-beauty/stress-sleepness-nights-heres-what-to-do/