How To Cope With Stress In A Healthy Way
No doubt, you’ve got countless reasons to feel stressed- such is life in the 21st century. But being stressed doesn’t have to amount to excessive suffering, as this can have real repercussions, both physically and mentally. Keep your stress levels in check by using some of these tried and true tips…
Prepare for tomorrow, today.
Nobody is saying procrastination isn’t appealing, but it is important to lay down the road before you hit it. Save yourself the stress of doing something tomorrow; if it takes under five minutes, do it as soon as you think about it.
Make lists and check them twice.
On your phone, on a napkin, or in a complex spreadsheet- lists are no new idea. Lay out to-dos, shopping lists, daily itineraries, and more. Having everything spelled out and in order definitely makes challenges seem a bit more approachable.
Figure out your schedule in advance.
Know what you have to do and when you have to do it. Surprises are fun for birthday parties, not necessarily for important tasks and serious commitments.
Block out sections of time.
Have a lot to do? Dedicate a chunk of time towards each thing, not the whole lot at once. Take an hour to work on one task, then switch even if you aren’t done. Go back when you can, but keep your time slots strict.
Make an effort to extend kindness.
Feeling stressed and hoping someone does you a favor? You’re not alone. Be kind to a friend, loved one, or total stranger when you’re under pressure. It all comes full circle eventually.
Make sure to show gratitude.
Someone did you that favor? Make sure to thank them and let them know it’s genuine. The very act of showing gratitude also boosts positive emotions.
Be mindful of every decision you make.
New car, what shoes to wear, how much laundry detergent to put in the washing machine… you have a thousand decisions to make every day. Be mindful and take note of your actions and keep track of where they lead you.
Stop negative thoughts as they happen.
If you have a negative thought drifting into your mind, don’t just dismiss it. Acknowledge it as negative and that it doesn’t mean you have to listen to it, but also that it isn’t being ignored.
Work to stop a bad habit.
We all have vices. Working to break a bad habit doesn’t mean stopping all of a sudden, it just means taking a new step every day to get a bit closer.
Work to build a new, good habit.
Part of stopping a bad habit is often replacing it with a better one. Find substitutions or entirely new ideas that keep you motivated and keep your mind off the bad habit that is leaving your life.
Try something new.
Never had sushi? Never gone skydiving? Never told your friend how much you love them? Now is the chance to get out there and check something off your bucket list… or just the list of things you’re curious about.
Try something you know you like.
If you have a favorite, it’s okay to stick to it sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with seeking comfort in times of stress, as long as it’s productive and healthy.
Be an active listener.
You have a lot to be stressed about and a lot to say, but so does everyone else. Don’t take another’s comment as a stepping stone towards your turn to talk, but rather as a valid entry you really process.
Listen more than you talk in conversations.
Conversations should involve teamwork, not one person talking at another. Keep track of how much you contribute and if you should step back for a moment and pass on the talking stick.
Compliment others for the little things.
How good does it make you feel when someone notices a new sweater when you’re having a bad day? Try it from the other side, even if you don’t actually LOVE the sweater. They love it, so celebrate it!
Recognize others’ big achievements.
It’s easy to become envious and stress out over you versus… everyone else. Instead, tell yourself how they inspire you, not knock you down.
Be proud of your own little accomplishments.
If someone else climbs a mountain, and all you did was take out the trash… didn’t you both get something done today? Don’t write off the little things that make up the bigger picture, even if it seems pointless.
Be extra proud of the big things you’ve done.
If you did climb a mountain, be proud! Don’t shake off positive comments or celebration; there’s a time to be humble, and a time to just agree that yes, you are actually pretty awesome.
Remember that there are always options.
Dead-end job, uncomfortable bra, or burnt dinner- there’s never just one option on the table. It might not be an immediate fix, but there’s always a way to a better place (or bra, or takeout). Know that good things are to come.
Don’t think back on decisions you can’t change.
What’s done is done. It isn’t easy, but try not to look back with regret. Use these experiences to plan for the future in a positive way. Turn it into a learning experience and get to know yourself a bit better.
Make the best of the path you have chosen.
Made a decision and are stuck going one way for a bit? Make the best of it. Be the best toilet scrubber there ever was, find some way to use that huge bag of kale you got, or piece together your village for a bit of old-fashioned tough love.
Take note of ways to improve your outlook bit by bit.
Every step is one step closer… to what? Figure out your end goal and make your way there clear, with every single step that makes up the mile planned ahead.
Talk to a friend about your stress.
It’s okay to be stressed. It’s okay to talk about it. It’s part of the human experience, so don’t keep it bottled up. That just makes it worse.
Know when to seek professional help.
If your stress is really impacting your daily life and wellbeing, turn to a professional for help. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Help exists for a reason, but you can’t get help without asking for it.
Do a little bit, every day.
Big project on the horizon? Do something every day. Try not to have days with zero accomplishments. Even the smallest achievement gets you closer.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with things to do.
Sometimes it is inevitable that you will have what seems to be a billion things to do, but do your part to keep your plate somewhat clear. It lowers stress and gives you room to work on anything that comes up, without having to worry about it piling onto the existing pile.
Make sure you’re working for yourself, not others.
Even if you’re asked to do something, make it about personal improvement and not toil at the beck and call of another. Think about how it makes you better, even if it doesn’t seem like it’s really about you.
Volunteer for a cause you support.
Love animals? Volunteer at a local shelter. Want to give back to your community? Work a day in the soup kitchen. Working for free seems pointless until you realize you are working for something: fulfillment.
Exercise in a way you enjoy.
It’s been shown again and again that exercise boosts mood and reduces stress, but many people find exercise stressful already. Don’t force yourself to go to that trendy gym if you really want to just take long walks around the park. If it’s something you enjoy, stick with it.
Modify your diet in a way that is sustainable.
Crash diets or new trends are not healthy, nor will they ever help with stress. Find a rhythm that works for your body, budget, and lifestyle.
Accept yourself as you are now.
No matter what you plan on doing, you are already yourself at this very moment. You can’t change how you got to be you, so you might as well accept it as it is. You’re valid just how you are.
Have a vision of your “better” self.
Even if you accept yourself now, that doesn’t mean to not try to improve yourself. Take the load off with that positivity, and use it to motivate yourself. You deserve to treat yourself better and to not stress out over things you cannot change.
Make a sure plan to become better.
If it’s diet, a lifestyle change, or a shift in outlook, make sure you have a real plan. Nobody is born a bodybuilder, professional chess player, or guru. Everybody has to start somewhere.
Get into nature.
Not big into tents and hiking boots? Sit on a park bench for a bit and really look around. You don’t have to be the next Tarzan to appreciate nature and how we interact with it.
Take up a new, fulfilling responsibility.
If you have the resources, dedicate yourself to fulfilling a requirement. Take care of a pet, babysit your cousins, or find something that fits what will keep you motivated.
Go to sleep early, but don’t sleep late.
Doesn’t seem like much fun, does it? Shut down early and start up early to get the most out of the daylight hours and to give your body a chance to process the day as it needs to.
Declutter and organize your space.
Piles of dirty laundry, past-due bills, and general clutter will NEVER reduce stress. Even if it means throwing out one paper a day or washing a shirt at a time, reduce your environmental noise and streamline it into something zen.
Take a break from social media.
Do this, look like that, be like them… or else. That’s how it can seem if you buy into what a lot of social media platforms sell. Find positive communities, or just try unplugging yourself for a bit.
Find what makes you laugh.
A friend with great jokes, that one cat video from 2009, or literally anything that makes you laugh is worth consideration. Boost your mood and lift some weight off your shoulders.
Indulge from time to time.
It’s okay not to be perfect and to take a break from being so serious 24/7. Keep it healthy and tell yourself that, no, one singular cupcake or half hour of video games won’t someday keep you from being president.