Like many things, feeling stressed is inevitable. It enters and exits our lives on a regular basis, and it can easily become consuming unless we take action. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to minimise and cope with stress.
1. Figure out where the stress is coming from
Instead of feeling like you’re flailing day to day, identify what it is you’re actually stressed about. Is it a specific project at work, an upcoming exam, a dispute with your boss, a heap of laundry, or a fight with your family?
By getting specific and pinpointing the stressors in your life, you’re one step closer to getting organized and taking action.
2. Consider what you control
While you can’t control what your boss does, what your in-laws say or the sour state of the economy, you can control how you react, how you accomplish work, how you spend your time and what you spend your money on.
Stress can be paralyzing. Doing what’s within your power moves you forward and is empowering and invigorating.
3. Do what you love
We’ve heard this a million times. It’s so much easier to manage pockets of stress when the rest of your life is filled with activities you love. Even if your job is stress central, you can find one hobby or two that enrich your world.
4. Manage your time well
One of the biggest stressors for many people is lack of time. Their to-do list expands, while time flies. How often have you wished for more hours in the day or heard others lament their lack of time?
5. Create a toolbox of techniques
One stress-shrinking strategy won’t work for all your problems. For instance, while deep breathing is helpful when you’re stuck in traffic or hanging at home, it might not rescue you during a business meeting.
Because stress comes in many shapes and forms, it’s important to recognise what technique works for what type of stress.
6. Take some things off your plate
Review your daily and weekly activities to see what you can pick off your plate. Reducing your stack of negotiable tasks can greatly reduce your stress.
7. Are you making yourself extra vulnerable to stress?
Whether you perceive something as a stressor depends in part on your current state of mind and body.
So if you’re not getting sufficient sleep or physical activity during the week, you may be leaving yourself extra susceptible to stress. For example when you’re sleep-deprived, even the smallest stressors can have a huge impact.
8. Preserve good boundaries
If you’re a people-pleaser, saying no feels like you’re abandoning someone, have become a terrible person or are throwing all civility out the window. But of course that couldn’t be further from the truth. Plus, those few seconds of discomfort are well worth avoiding the stress of taking on an extra activity or doing something that doesn’t contribute value to your life.
9. Realise there’s a difference between worrying and caring.
Sometimes, our mindset can boost stress, so a small issue mushrooms into a pile of problems. We continue worrying, somehow thinking that this is a productive — or at least inevitable — response to stress. But we mistake worry for action.
10. Embrace mistakes and don’t drown in perfectionism
Another mindset that can exacerbate stress is perfectionism. Trying to be mistake-free and essentially spending your days walking on eggshells is exhausting and anxiety-provoking. Talk about putting pressure on yourself! And as we all know but tend to forget: Perfectionism is impossible and not human, anyway.