How often would you say you feel stressed? If the answer is “every day”, you are not alone. Between work, family, social and personal lives, there are many obligations to balance. Furthermore, in our modern digital age, with distractions, stimulations, and stressors coming from all directions, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. This increased business leads to higher stress levels and that can seep into all aspects of our lives and have deep negative effects.
What is stress and where does it come from?
Stress is your body’s reaction to perceived pressures and threats from your environment. It triggers your body’s flight-or-fight response, which increases your heart rate and blood circulation, leading to faster breath intake and feelings of anxiety. When prolonged, this feeling will cause you to be unhappy, short-tempered, and tired. You might suffer from a weakened immune system, insomnia, depression, body aches or tension, and weight gain. Stress has many ways of manifesting itself. In more severe cases, chronic and serious stress can lead to heart disease. Clearly, if left unmanaged, this will overwhelm you, as it has a very real and profound effect on your health.
When is it a problem?
If stress is so common, then how and when is it a bigger issue? If you can grow from a difficult experience and learn to move past it, it isn’t a problem. But remember to periodically take a step back to reflect on your mental health. Are you generally happy with your quality of life or do you feel panicked, trapped, and hindered from being productive?
What you can do about it?
1. Take a deep breath
Remind yourself to slow down. Try inhaling deeply and then slowly exhaling to help re-focus and calm your shaky nerves. Doubtful? Give it a try, and you will be surprised at how much it can help. Counter nervous and panicked hyperventilation with controlled, deep breathing to let your brain know that you are doing just fine.
2. Make a list
Identify what is making you feel the way that you do. Like any other problem, the first step is always to acknowledge it. Whenever you begin to feel overwhelmed, or even at the start of every day, write down a list of things you are stressed about and need to do. The physical act of writing it out, as well as being able to visualize everything, will calm you down. Once it’s all on paper, you should feel as though your mind and thoughts are no longer as clouded. You won’t need to stress over remembering what to do and you can experience the satisfaction of crossing things off your list when you complete them.
3. Create a clear actionable plan
Big tasks, projects, and plans can seem daunting. The thought of needing to do something can invoke feelings of dread. Take some time to write down what you need to do to complete that task. Break all your larger projects down into much smaller subtasks that you can do easily. For example, if you have a business trip planned in a few weeks, book your flight tickets today, plan your car ride tomorrow, book your hotel rooms the day after, and keep going until you’ve finished planning your trip. You don’t need to plan your entire journey in one sitting. When you are only focused on the next step, your stress surrounding the entire task will dissipate.
4. Stop multitasking
Multitasking can seem like the best solution, but in reality, it divides your focus and prevents you from being efficient. By severely limiting the amount of time spent on each task, you are not allowing yourself to do your best work. You will lose time in the process of shifting gears, rather than spending it wisely on actual work. If you do have multiple things to do, don’t worry. Just give yourself a set time frame to work for each task and avoid trying to work on all of them at once.
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Originally published at medium.com