Stress is how the brain and body respond to our overdemanding lifestyle and to traumatic events. It’s a natural part of life and something we can’t avoid. But too much stress, as you already know, can be harmful on a lot of fronts. The good news though, is that you can reduce your stress levels and your response to it.
By doing certain things regularly, you can create protection against much of the everyday stress that comes your way.
In a 2-part post, we’re going to look at how to better manage stress. This post will look at 10 things to do to minimize your everyday experience of stress and in part 2, we’ll look at ways to manage those unavoidable stressful periods.
You’ll notice that some habits, like sleep, appear on many of my solutions-based content. That’s because as a core habit, sleep has far-reaching implications for our lives. It affects our motivation, behavior, health, and wellbeing and every single facet of our lives.
If you don’t know the number of hours of sleep you need, you need to work that out. Usually, it’s a range; mine is 6.5 to 7.25 hours a night. When I try to function on less sleep for extended periods of time, I’m so dysfunctional. I’m grumpy, easily misplace things, I have less self-control over my diet, I’m less motivated to exercise and stay on my healthy habits.
This one habit is so crucial to my wellbeing (and yours) that I’m done trying to cheat myself out of it.
Meditation helps us to navigate life with fewer hiccups and stress. If you’re new to meditation, try it with a friend or a group to improve your odds of sticking to it long enough to a) get it and b) experience the benefits. Like the CEOs, athletes, and others with busy lives who have come to depend on it, you too may find it invaluable once you get into it.
Try the Vurb Meditation program, which is a comprehensive program based on positive psychology. It combines a weekly meditation class with multiple text messages during the week to remind you of positive steps to take and impromptu challenges to join us in.
Your go-to home entertainment may be watching TV but if you want to get better at warding off stress, reading is better for that. Reading calms the mind and relaxes the body. This will not only help prevent conditions caused by stress, such as anxiety and insomnia but will also help you develop a clearer mind.
Certain things help us women feel better about ourselves. Getting our nails done, our brows shaped, buying ourselves flowers, and treating ourselves to other niceties make us feel happier. Don’t just lean into those self-care impulses, schedule them, and set aside funds to make sure they get done regularly. Done regularly, you lower your experience of stress.
5. Dealing With Your Problems.
Just because you’re ignoring them, doesn’t mean your problems go away. Chronic stressors like living with financial uncertainties, caring for a loved one, and health conditions you need to manage, need our attention. When not addressed, they can cause all sorts of physiological and mental health problems now and rack up to bigger problems later. Usually, we can’t handle these problems alone, which is why we put them off. So, the first thing to do is ask yourself who you can reach out to for help.
Did you know that low vitamin D levels have been linked to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and stress? After my naturopathic doc recommended 5,000 IU of vitamin D a day, I did some digging to learn about other supplements. Magnesium, Ashwagandha, valerian root, B12, and several other supplements can help us manage stress better.
Getting a workout isn’t just good for the body, it also releases endorphins (feel-good chemicals). Exercising regularly will help you sleep better and will create a buffer against a lot of life’s stress and anxiety. Cardio exercises and any activity that includes music, such as dancing, are especially joy-inducing.
8. Saying No.
If your schedule or to-do list keeps stacking up higher than you can handle, something’s got to give. Sometimes the problem goes deeper—you may have difficulty saying No.
Start weaning yourself off the people-pleasing habit by committing to a fraction of what is asked. Whenever someone you want to help ask for your help, find out how much of a time commitment, and cut it in half. If you need to, have someone call you at a designated time so you can use the call as your reminder and excuse to leave.
Another helpful exercise is to create a list of close family and friends who you have a reciprocal relationship with or who you’re responsible for (elderly parents and kids). Pour your love and attention into them and into your self-care and if you can manage more time, without putting yourself under stress, devote that time to one cause.
If all that fails and you still have problems setting boundaries, talk to someone. Some insights into what you’re really seeking with your people-pleasing may be needed before you’re able to give up the behavior.
9. Better Time Management.
Work stress is one of the biggest sources of stress for working women. With better time management, you can be more productive. But time management is so much more than setting a timer. It’s learning what to multitask and what not to. It’s getting the important stuff done first and having systems that work for you.
10. Change Your Mindset.
Mindset plays a significant role in how we respond to life. Distorted thinking can exaggerate our perceived shortcomings. … (stressor); someone says you look tired and what you hear is you look ugly. In fact, I believe how we view the world and interpret incoming information is one of our biggest stressors. Once you start paying attention to your responses, you’ll notice how much it impacts how you feel.
These are some things you want to change your mind about:
- Other people. From everyday rudeness to outright prejudice, as frustrating as these things are, remind yourself that what people do is about them, not you. What they do is about their experiences, their character, how they manage stress, and their own mindset. Yes, the shit hurts and sometimes you need to respond, but in the long-run, reactionary responses hurt you more than them. Do you want to be hurt twice?
- Everyday inconveniences. From traffic to poor weather, letting everyday inconveniences cause you to stress is just poor self-regulation. One of my most important life lessons was learning that sometimes, getting lost can be a good thing and a rainy day can be just as much fun as a sunny one.
- Dwelling on the negative. The ruminating mind likes to dwell because it thinks we. A good way to break the habit is to give yourself limits for how long you dwell on certain things. Milk expires and so should complaints.
- Holding grudges. Not budging and refusing to forgive your offenders may seem like payback but unless you were close or meant a lot to the person, chances are, you’re the only one thinking about the grudge.
- Many old ideas. Religion and cultures are often slower to evolve than people. Look at the catholic church and their view on homosexuality. The same goes for your own sexual hangups and anything you feel shame and guilt about. Re-examine any issue you feel guilt and shame about and question why you do. Chances are, they’re based on old ideas.