Stress Management 101
Stress isn’t always bad. Good stress motivates us. It propels us forward in our life and makes us achieve our goals. It’s called eustress. Good stress helps us meet challenges is everyday life.
But then. . . there’s the bad stress. The bad stress can wreak havoc on your life. It weakens the immune system, boosts cortisol levels in the brain, causes weight gain. Yuck.
Here’s the thing – stress in life is inevitable. But the way you respond to it and your coping techniques can drastically reduce the problems it causes in your life and health. Here are a few ways to manage stress so it doesn’t become bad stress and take over your life.
It’s my favorite tip again! This decluttering is a little different. This time, it’s about decluttering your relationships. Get rid of the people in your life who are littering it with negativity. You can’t eliminate all negativity, but if there are people who are causing you more harm than good, trim them out. If they’re your family, cut back on your interactions with them. Surround yourself with positivity.
I am just as addicted to my phone as the next girl. But have you ever sat at a table where everyone at it is on their phone, looked around and thought, ‘What the f*ck are we all doing?’ And social media can cause tons of stress because it brings up feelings of comparison (the killer of joy). Give yourself an hour or more every day without your phone and computer. Doesn’t have to be the TV because, hello, Gilmore Girls is the solution to all stress. But don’t stare at the TV to close to bedtime either.
Manage your time.
I had this friend who was constantly late, constantly stressed out, and never planned properly for anything. She was miserable most of the time and could not figure out why. Nothing is more stressful than not having enough time in the day/week to complete all of your tasks. I know it makes me sound like an old, boring person, but “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” has a point. Wake up a little early if you need extra time. Don’t rob yourself of sleep, but plan out your day in advance so that you have structure. The busier you get, the more time management becomes a hugely important activity!
Make to-do lists.
Confession: I make to do lists and sometimes put things I’ve already done that day on them just to cross it off because it feels so good. Which lowers my stress. See? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, write down the stuff you’ve got to accomplish and tackle things one by one. If you focus on one task at a time, everything becomes more manageable. It will help you feel organized and focused. And it doesn’t have to end with to-do lists. Make a grocery list. A chore list. A list of your blessings. Go nuts!
Practice yoga and/or meditation.
Does this sound familiar? It should. I harp on this sh*t all the time. Meditate for a minute a day. Then increase to two. Then five. It will improve the quality of your life so much. And if you don’t know where to start, check out my post on the best meditation podcasts. I also firmly believe in the healing power of yoga. There are many different disciplines within yoga, so if you try one and don’t like it, try another. I’m a huge fan of Ashtanga, but some people prefer Hatha. Find your niche.
Go for a walk. Get some vitamin D (*cough* wear sunscreen *cough*) Sunlight and fresh air helps with depression and anxiety, but it will also help clear your head and help you deal better with the stress in your life.
Clean a little bit every day.
Okay, I’m bad with this one, admittedly. My day often runs away with me. But if I do one chore every day, it doesn’t save cleaning everything for one day of the week, and it makes my environment more pleasant. Vacuum one day. Clean the kitchen the next. Do laundry on the third day. Nothing will make you feel more a mess than being surrounded by a mess.
Set up a budget.
Hooooly hell. I set up my first budget just a few years ago, and I cannot believe I made it through so much of my life without one. Stressing about money is the worst kind of stress. It can make you feel out of control and a failure. So again, plan. Know exactly where your money is going to go. Give yourself some wiggle room, if you can swing it. And put together a savings. You never know when your car’s going to break down or your cat’s going to get sick or whatever. Microsoft Excel has a few great budget templates. I took theirs and just tailored it for my life.
Get a massage.
I don’t know about you, but I localize stress in my shoulders. This is common. I know when things are out of control because my neck starts to feel immobile. Getting a massage helps release all that crap and is kind of like pressing a reset button. Read my article on the benefits of massage here.
Get enough sleep.
You know how when you’re tired, everything irritates you? Yeah, there’s a reason for that. Enough sleep is so, so vital for managing your stress level. If you need 10 hours, get 10 hours. They say 7 to 8 is the ideal amount, but everyone is different. Pick what works for you and aim for that. My magic number is 9; I can do 8 but my body naturally sleeps for 9 when I set no alarms. Figure out what you need and honor that.
Let. It. Go.
Hate your ex? Let it go. Mad at a friendship that imploded? Let. It. Go. Guy cut you off in traffic? Don’t let it ruin your day! There are things in this life that you can’t control. Remember, how people treat you is their karma; how you react to it is yours. And letting things go will help with this immensely.
Get a day planner.
You guys, I’m such a nerd. I LOVE MY PLANNER. It makes me so goddamn happy writing stuff in it. And it has stickers. This links right up with managing your time – there are tools out there to help you with this. Amazon has toooonnnns of cute planners. Pick one that makes you happen when you look at it as an extra bonus
Focus on what you CAN control.
There is something innately human about stressing over things that we cannot control. I don’t know where that comes from. But if you focus on what you can control, you will stress less about what you can’t. Reality is, we can’t control everything. But we can control some things.
Practice kindness and positivity.
Trying to stay positive will become second nature if you practice it, just like everything else. And random acts of kindness are amazing. If you’re feeling stressed or shitty, but the person behind you in line a cup of coffee. Or send your friend a card to let them know how much you love them. These small acts can create a ripple effect that changes the energy of the world, I truly believe that. The result? Way less stress.
Endorphins are real. They make you feel better. And that reduces stress. Boom. Science.
These are just a few of the ways I manage and control my stress. And don’t get me wrong, my life is not stress free. But there are practices you can implement to help keep this under control. I hope some of these help you as well!
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