Reviewed by Whitney White, MS CMHC, NCC., LPC
Understanding how to manage stress is significant. Such methods help you cope under pressure while encouraging yourself to remain productive. Stress may lead to health concerns when unaddressed. It makes doing daily tasks more challenging while draining you of natural energy. When feeling under pressure to meet others' needs, you may feel like you've lost control, but that doesn't have to be the case.
If you're able to make time during the day to fulfill responsibilities helping others, you can make time to help yourself deal with stress. The key to learning how to cope is to know different stress management techniques to consider. Understanding your options may depend on your lifestyle and personal goals. Managing stress may include learning how to use your time, stop procrastinating, or focus on priorities. Here are methods people found useful when managing stress.
Recognize stress triggers
One of the most significant elements of dealing with stress is to understand what triggers it. Sometimes people don't recognize when something triggers their stress. Maybe you have too many tasks on your plate, or you're under pressure to get things done a certain way. Once you recognize what is behind your stress, create a plan to help reduce or avoid it. Consider ways to streamline processes or shift priorities to make it easier to get them done.
- Take note of what to avoid
You can learn how to reduce stress by understanding situations to avoid. You'll know what to avoid by paying attention to stress triggers. It may be a combination of things from people, places, and things. When you recognize you feel stressed or burned out, determine what you can do to avoid feeling this way again. If a person makes you feel stressed, try limiting contact with them. Limit how often you access social media and how much news coverage you watch if your stress is related to current events.
- Look for ways to make things easier
Making things easier can include looking for shortcuts or making changes to a routine. Ask for help if you need assistance to lighten your workload. Look for ways to make better use of your time. When setting goals, keep them realistic and doable. Many say they find multitasking helpful, but in some cases, it may not be as useful. Consider focusing on one task at a time to complete. Break up larger projects into smaller tasks. Avoid overcrowding your schedule to reduce the risk of burnout.
- Readjust to gain control
Don't be afraid to make changes to help you regain control. When you make changes, you allow yourself to readjust to the situation. When facing a stressful situation, look at it from another angle. Take time to think about your options to see if there's a better way to get things done. Doing so also changes your attitude and expectations giving you a sense of control.
- Accept what you can't change
Accept the fact you won't be in control all the time. Acknowledging that you cannot change something helps you release or let go of hurtful emotions that often hold people back from moving forward. It takes time, but it is worth it. Try looking at things differently by focusing on the positives. Sometimes opportunities come from acceptance allowing you to learn and grow. Avoid wasting your time and energy, trying to change others. A person may choose to express negative behavior, but you can decide how to react to it.
- Engage in physical activity
Getting physically active may be the last thing you want to do when stressed, but there are many benefits. Physical activities are great for stress relief and stress prevention. Regular exercise such as jogging, running, or walking helps alleviate stress while encouraging"feel good"hormones. Physical activity is a healthy distraction from negative thoughts while helping your body stay in shape. You can get creative and choose how to engage in physical activity. You can walk up and down the steps at home, ride a bike, play with the kids, walk the dog, or exercise with a friend. Aerobics, dance, and swimming are other ideas.
- Get social by connecting with others
Sometimes a good laugh or an in-depth conversation with a friend helps relieve stress. You can get an opinion about your situation or talk about what is bothering you to get it off your chest. Socializing with people you care about helps boost your mood naturally. It is a big deal to be with someone that can relate to your stress. They don't have to provide answers on how to fix something, but it helps when they are good listeners so you can vent. If you want to talk to someone outside of your social circle, consider a therapist or counselor who may advise how to handle your situation.
- Make time to relax
Engage in activities to help you relax. You can get creative as you want and consider hobbies such as arts, crafts, or learn a new skill. Reading is a great way to unwind. Reading stories, novels, or even stress management articles to gain helpful knowledge is always a plus. Setting aside leisure time is significant in managing anxiety and stress. It means setting obligations aside to make time for yourself. It gives a chance to recharge your energy and rest your mind. You can make time daily to do something that calms you like taking a catnap or ride a bike.
Laughing is a good stress reliever. Consider reading the comics in the paper or search for a funny video to watch for a few moments. Depending on how much time you can set aside, consider practicing relaxation regularly through deep breathing, yoga stretches, or meditation. These activities help gradually decrease stress levels to calm the mind, body, and soul.
- Make better use of your time
Some people deal with a lot of stress because they don't manage their time. Some run late, while others feel there is not enough time in the day to get things done. Lack of time management leads to unhealthy behaviors. People choose to skip meals or cut back on sleep to get tasks done. These are tasks you should be doing to manage stress.
Making the most of your time includes committing yourself to things you know you can finish. When you commit to getting something done, you should allow enough time to finish when meeting deadlines. Sometimes people underestimate how long a task may take to complete. Prioritize your work by focusing on what is most important first. Sometimes prioritizing may involve choosing what to do first based on the time needed.
Break up large tasks into smaller steps. It reduces feeling overwhelmed while helping you stay in control of the project. The task is manageable, and you can focus on one thing at a time without pressure. Get help when necessary, and don't be afraid to ask for it. Sometimes people refuse to get help because they want all the control. Getting assistance helps let go of the stress you don't need.
- Improve your lifestyle
Another effective way to learn how to deal with stress is to make changes to your lifestyle. If you adopt better living habits, it gets easier to practice ways to limit stress. Think about what you want to improve that can help you perform better during the day. Improving your eating and sleep habits is a start. Reduce your caffeine intake and avoid habits such as drugs and alcohol. Sometimes poor habits lead to other problems you don't need. For example, if you're not getting enough sleep, you may develop fatigue. Some also develop insomnia, which could make your stress worse. As you consider ways to improve your lifestyle, implement change one at a time to adjust so you can see favorable results.
- Practice ways to calm down at the moment
Learn ways to relieve your stress quickly so you can calm down immediately. Many situations cause stress levels to rise fast, such as being stuck in traffic, getting into an argument with your spouse, or trying to beat an end of the day deadline at work. When your stress is ready to shoot through the roof, you need to do something now.
Deep breathing exercises usually do the trick. It involves taking in and out deep breathes and even visualizing something calm like a beach or travel destination. Some like to look at a favorite photo of a place or thing to calm themselves. Others may chew some gum, smell something that smells good, or turn on the radio to listen to jazz or something upbeat.
Taking responsibility for your stress includes identifying what causes it and practicing ways to relieve it. Effective ways to manage stress will be the most compatible options for your lifestyle and personal goals. Spend time exploring different ways to achieve stress relief. Methods of interest should be easy for you to incorporate into a routine.