Stress is part of life and is something we will encounter from time to time. But there are things that can be done to mitigate its appearance and how it affects our daily life. While some stressful situations are unavoidable, others are, and take a shift in perception to help handle them effectively.
Without getting too entrenched in psychological terminology, stress can be broken down into three different categories: acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress.
Acute stress is short term, such as the anxiety felt after a car accident, whereas episodic acute stress is associated with people who suffer from acute stress frequently, and in summary, are people who are always in a rush but are always late. The third kind of stress causes chronic problems, hence the name, and comes when a person never sees a way out of a bad situation. Chronic stress can lead to heart attacks, a weakened immune system, fertility problems, and various other serious effects.
Regardless of what kind of stress you may have endured today, following these tips can help give you the tools to manage all forms of stress and stressful situations.
Pause. Halt. Whatever you want to call it. Chances are if you are wrapped up in stress, it is consuming your thoughts and clouding your decision-making abilities. Stop what you’re doing and take a seat (perhaps on a comfy chair).
Breathing exercises help you relax because they make your body feel like it already is relaxed, thus sending a message to your brain to calm down. If you need some direction, The University of Michigan has a great list of breathing exercises to help encourage relaxation. Others find meditation helpful, and with so many apps, like Calm, Headspace, and Simply Being, there is definitely something out there for you.
It may seem like an old-school solution to stress, but there is an odd satisfaction when checking something off a list. The most effective lists are ones that note all tasks, when they need to be completed, and their level of priority. If you encountered a stressful situation that does not require any actionable items, consider journaling describing how you felt, what happened, what you wish happened, and ways to handle it differently. In a world of typing, writing can be more cathartic.
Now you are (hopefully) calm, with a list in hand, and ready to evaluate what is written. Do you need help to complete any of the tasks? Are you being realistic? What time of day are you going to be most productive? Note the vital steps necessary to complete each task as this can help break down big tasks into smaller, easier to-do’s!
Prioritizing tasks can help rid yourself of the looming feeling of being overwhelmed. Prioritize what needs to be done today, tomorrow, and which tasks are long term. Consider tackling the menial, quick tasks in your downtime to get them off the list as soon as possible.
At this point, you’ve had a stressful day or dealt with a stressful situation and tackled items 1 through 5. Now, it’s time to soothe. It could be a bath instead of a shower, reading a chapter of your favorite book before bed, scrolling on Instagram for 30 minutes, or watching another episode of WestWorld. Take some to yourself, it’s important to feel recharged.
After recharging, it’s time to put your plan into action. Start and end your day with an intention of productivity and positivity and you’ll be amazed at how much of your list you can tackle.
Stress is a part of life, but a part of life that can be managed and handled in a positive way. All three types of stress may make their appearance in your life and each offers their own struggle, challenging you to think critically to help mitigate its effects. The next time you find yourself overwhelmed, implementing these 7 tips can make all the difference.