Stress is a condition that has become prevalent in our society today, often when we feel overwhelmed and trying to keep up with our busy schedules. Stress can be related to a number of areas, such as work, relationships, finances, and health.
Having some stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Stress is part of our anxiety system, or our “fight or flight” response. This helps us navigate and respond to stressors in our lives. In fact, mild levels of anxiety can help you motivate yourself in the short-term. However, longer-term stress can cause significant physical and psychological symptoms.
Here are a four tips to help you manage you stress more effectively:
- Prioritize your activities
Take a few minutes to figure out what “needs to get done”, and what is more of “should get done” and can ultimately wait. Sometimes we just have to say no, or not now.
- When you’re planning things that need to get done, break tasks down into smaller components so that they don’t seem as overwhelming.
- Try to keep a list of things that have to get done today, things that have to get done by the end of the week, and things that have to get done by the end of the month. Try to focus on the things you have to get done today.
- Schedule the tasks. When planning your time, multiply it by 1.5. Things always take longer than we think. If you have extra time, you can take a few minutes to address items on your other lists, or take the time to relax and decompress.
- Be active
- A natural cure for stress is physical activity. Even an after-dinner walk can help clear your head and make you feel better.
- Take a few moments for yourself
- Nobody can be on all the time without burning out. Try some deep breathing or other relaxation techniques.
- Scheduling activities that you find enjoyable can take your mind off your stress and give you something to look forward to throughout the day.
- Get enough sleep
Sleep is one of the first ways we shortchange ourselves when we feel there isn’t enough time in the day. Who hasn’t tried to pull the “all nighter” when a deadline is looming?
Good sleep hygiene includes:
- Making sure your bedroom environment is dark, quiet and peaceful so you can get the rest you need to function productively.
- Avoid using screens (e.g., laptop or phone) in bed, as the light can wake you up.
- Avoid doing other tasks in your bedroom – you don’t want to associate your bed with wakeful activities
- Turn the clock away from you – seeing that you haven’t fallen asleep yet often makes you more anxious, which makes it harder to sleep.
- If you haven’t fallen asleep in about 20 min – get up for a few min and then head back to bed.
If you feel like the stress and anxiety you’re feeling can’t be solved on your own, consider talking with a psychologist, who can help you develop strategies to better manage your stress.