Even if you don’t struggle with anxiety, just about everyone goes through periods of extreme stress. If you don’t know how to manage stress, you may find yourself using unhealthy coping mechanisms that can make it difficult to get back to your normal lifestyle. If you’re looking for new ways to help manage your day-to-day stress, here are ten things you can try.
1. Avoid Stimulants
If your days are becoming more stressful, you may want to consider cutting back on the coffee. If you smoke, you may want to think about cutting back on cigarettes as well. Quitting altogether may be more than you can handle currently, but even decreasing your usage a little should help. Though they may seem like effective coping mechanisms, nicotine and caffeine can actually increase your stress levels and make you more irritable throughout the day. Instead of loading up on coffee, prioritize a healthy sleep schedule. While certain stressors can make you wish for a drink at the end of a long day, alcohol can also make stress worse. This is especially true if you wake up hungover and are unable to accomplish your many tasks during the day. While medication can help, there is usually a trial and adjustment period while you find the type and dosage that works for you. On the other hand, CBD oil is easy to find and can be extremely effective in reducing effects of depression and anxiety.
2. Stop Saying “Yes”
Some feelings of heightened stress are linked to obligations to others. If you have people depending on you at your job, at home or in your social circles, you may feel like you have to agree to more than you can handle. In this case, it is essential that you sort out your priorities before you become too overwhelmed. It may be time to step back and focus on things that are important to you, and you only. Author Nora Roberts makes an excellent point about juggling priorities. When you have lots of balls in the air, know which ones are glass, and which ones are plastic. Maybe that important task at work is glass and you can’t afford to drop it. Meanwhile, volunteering for the PTA bake sale is decidedly plastic, but your child’s play that they’ve been rehearsing for all semester is definitely glass. Managing stress is crucial to a healthy lifestyle, so don’t feel guilty about stepping back and reassessing what you can handle.
When you have a load of tasks that need to be completed, rest may become just another item on your list. However, if your mind and body needs a break, you won’t perform at your best. Rest is crucial when you’re physically ill, and it should be considered just as crucial when you’re going through periods of extreme stress. Sometimes stepping back from the things that are causing you stress can give you a more objective view of the problems and challenges causing your anxiety. Getting some distance can help you come to solutions much faster than you would have otherwise. Neglecting rest for long periods of time can lead to burnout, in which case your efficiency will drop anyway, which can cause even more stress. It may be hard to turn off your brain at first, but taking the time to relax could be the recharge you need.
4. Time Management
If you’re lacking structure to your day or your work schedule, you may not be working in a way that is most efficient. As a result, you may not be seeing the progress you thought you would, which can cause more stress. Without managing your time, you may be more prone to distractions. To avoid this, map out your time with a daily and weekly schedule. When you approach this task, it’s easy to get carried away with all the productivity you wish you had, but try to be realistic. The worksheet may say you have 24 hours, but you know how many of those you need for rest. You know roughly how many hours you need to dedicate to family time, and you know you need to schedule buffers for emergencies or other things that can pop up unexpectedly, like car troubles. You may want to take a few days to just record how you spend your time so you have a better idea of what your current schedule actually looks like. Once you’ve made changes to how you manage your time, stick to it as closely as possible. This way you don’t get stuck on any one task and avoid the others by mistake. Once you have a routine in place, you’ll find it is easier to move from task to task because both your mind and body will have adjusted, and you won’t need to exercise precious willpower to move on to the next task or resist endless scrolling on your phone.
5. Get Help
When stress makes it difficult to function, don’t be afraid to ask for help. This may look different to everyone. You may be taking on too much at work, and your coworkers could be doing more. Maybe your family isn’t contributing to the home as much, or maybe you need to come to an agreement about taking on fewer household responsibilities as you learn how to better manage your stress. Often the people in your life won’t know that you’re struggling until you do ask for help. While redistributing tasks can make managing stress easier, sometimes it’s not enough. If you’re having trouble managing stress on your own, you may want to consider professional help. Speaking to a therapist can help you pinpoint sources of your anxiety and how to deal with them in the future.
6. Identify Your Triggers
If you know which situations cause you stress, you can do a better job of avoiding them. You may not be able to avoid all of them all the time, but you can regain some control. If a cluttered workspace causes anxiety in the morning, take some time to tidy your desk before leaving in the afternoon. If a certain aspect of your job causes more anxiety, you may be able to switch around your tasks so that you’re more comfortable. If your workplace becomes distracting, try using an empty conference room or see if you can work from home a day or two out of the week. It’s important to advocate for yourself, especially when it comes to mental health.
Exercise has been lauded for its mood-boosting effects, which can make a big difference if you’re combating anxiety. While you may not have much motivation to exercise when your schedule is already full, a quick jog or swim can make a big difference in how you feel by the end of the day. Plus, moving your body can be a great way to let your subconscious work out solutions to problems you’re experiencing in both your workplace and personal life. This can also be a social activity that helps you and a friend or two meet your fitness goals. Isolation or loneliness can have a huge impact on mental health, so finding a walking group or workout buddy is a convenient way to take out two birds with one stone. While a gym is nice, you don’t need fancy equipment or an expensive membership to get a good workout in. There are lots of ways to use your environment, and many classes are available online or on apps for free.
8. Use Your Hobbies
When things become overwhelming, a great source of stress relief is indulging in your hobbies. Whether you pursue knitting, dancing or some other activity, making time for yourself can alleviate many symptoms of stress. Depending on the hobby, you may even have a finished item to show for your time. However, it is important that you don’t equate your worth with your productivity, as is becoming more and more common with creative individuals. If you judge yourself based on the things you make, something you love may turn into just another source of stress, all because you haven’t opened an Etsy store like that girl on Instagram. Never mind that you only have a couple of hours a week to dedicate to your macramé plant holders. If you tend to slip into this mindset, you may be better off with the hobby that doesn’t result in a physical item from your efforts. A good alternative is volunteering since there are so many ways you can donate your time and skills.
During life changes and massive unprecedented global events, pretty much everyone is going to deal with unprecedented amounts of stress. While this can seem unavoidable, how you deal with this stress is completely up to you. By using these eight tips and focusing on the things that are within your control, you can better manage your anxiety and advocate for your mental health in healthy and effective ways.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.