Stress is a very relatable feeling these days. None of us want to experience it and yet we all do. Whether it’s work, school, or family-related (or something else entirely!), stress creeps up on us and makes being awake and alert a pretty crappy experience. Because I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress lately, I’ve taken some time to really think about how to effectively manage stress and remain calm, positive, and focused on my wellness while handling all the tasks I have to do. I’ve found these tips to be really helpful, so I’m going to share them with you in hopes that they help you feel well too! Collect Your Thoughts. Take some time to organizing your thinking process. If you don’t, you might fall into the trap of allowing your tasks to overwhelm you, creating more and more stress. Instead, evaluate the situation. What kind of proactive steps can you take to minimize your stress at the current moment? Ground yourself in the knowledge that you are going to handle this well, and then do that. Strategize what you’d like to tackle first, and prioritize the rest of your work accordingly. But be sure to take these 5 minutes to create a plan that is going to work for you and help you manage your day. Create Effective To-Do Lists. Not all to-do lists are helpful. Vague tasks like “get a job,” “work out today,” or “eat healthy” won’t help you achieve your goals, unfortunately. If you fail to accomplish vague goals, then you might become increasingly stressed and anxious about this large goal since it seems unattainable. Instead, create concrete objectives that you can actually achieve. Each small goal that you complete brings you a step forward towards feeling like you’ve got a handle on the things you need to get done. Create your goals with a concrete action and realistic timeframe in mind. Ex: “Review and print resumes by Tuesday,” “Deliver resumes to potential employers in person by Saturday,” “Organize bedside table before going to work.” These small, contained goals allow you to feel in control and like you’ve got a handle on things because they all feel very doable. Instead of “clean my room” as your goal, break it down to “clean my sweaters drawer before going to bed.” It’s minimal and digestible, and it’s something you can actually commit to. Learn to Let Things Go. When we’re stressed it’s very easy to hang on to minor issues or comments that rubbed us the wrong way. And as we hang on to these thoughts, we tend to pick at them and analyze them over and over, causing us undue anxiety and stress. In order to be free of these pent-up feelings, we have to actively work to let things go. Remind yourself, “I’m letting this go. I don’t need to think about it right now, so I will acknowledge that it’s come to my attention but also that I am actively releasing this thought.” By doing this, we help train our thought process to move away from pesky and irksome thoughts so that they do not accumulate and overwhelm us.
Take a Quick Moment to Breathe. Have you ever paused in the middle of a stressful day and thought to yourself, “I haven’t even had a chance to breathe today.” I’m willing to bet that you have. Managing our breathing and ensuring that we are taking long and deep breaths is such a key factor in maintaining wellness. Take “breathing breaks” throughout the day: dedicate 5 minutes of your day to closing your eyes, sitting in a comfortable position, and just slowly and consciously breathing in and breathing out, focusing on taking long, deep, and slow inhales and exhales.
Give Yourself Down Time. Life should not be “All work and no play.” So make sure you dedicate time for yourself. Whether it’s treating yourself to a spa day (my personal favourite thing to do), or brewing a hot cup of tea to enjoy while watching a guilty pleasure movie or reading your favourite book, just make sure to set time for yourself. Self-care is so important, so don’t make the mistake of looking at me-time as indulgent. Take care of yourself and you will be more ready to deal with stress when it does come. Do Not Procrastinate. Let’s face it. Putting off work is a very tempting thought, and it’s easy to give in. But the more you put off, the more you screw over future-you. So do future-you a favour and take care of whatever you can now. Also, keep in mind there is always some under-the-surface anxiety when you put things off because you know deep-down that this is something you should be attending to right now, which hinders your enjoyment of whatever it is you’re trying to do instead of attending to the work at hand. The best option is to get it out of the way right now so that your time is cleared up and you can fully enjoy it, stress and worry free.
Eat Something That’s Good For You. Not all healthy food is boring. Let’s just put that out there right away. When we’re under intense stress, many of us like to eat, and we tend to make poor food choices to overcompensate for feelings of stress. But it is precisely in these tense moments that you need good, healthy food. You need nutrients, vitamins, protein, and healthy fats to boost your energy and get your creative juices flowing. Some people recommend eating a fruit or a handful of almonds, and if that does it for you, then absolutely eat that. But there are also other types of delicious and hearty options. Think salmon and avocado wrap, cobb salad, kale chicken caesar salad, hummus with crackers and veggies, etc. Eating well makes us feel well, and feeling well helps us defeat stress.
I hope this list proves helpful and that your everyday stress begins to quiet down!
What are your tips for managing stress? Is there anything that works particularly well for you? Please share below!