Sometimes, life can feel overwhelming. Study, work, bills, family responsibilities and pressure to maintain a social life can add up and contribute to feelings of stress and a sense that you’re losing control of your life. As well as wreaking havoc on your emotional equilibrium, it can harm your physical health and hinder your ability to enjoy a life of ease and productivity.
However, the first step in coping with stress is knowing that there are things you can control. From here, stress can be properly managed and dealt with in a healthy way. The following tips can help you live a more balanced and focused life:
- Manage and prioritize your time better.
Make a to-do list and identify which tasks you need to do first and which you can leave for later on in the day. Don’t schedule things back-to-back or try fit too many tasks in one day as this will leave you feeling stretched thin and frazzled. If you do have a lot of things you need to get done, break it down into more manageable steps and delegate responsibilities to other people. Distinguishing between what is important and what isn’t truly necessary will help you be more productive in the long run.
- Get your body moving.
Even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing, physical activity is a big stress reliever and mood-booster. It doesn’t need to be a sweat-drenched gym session, but could instead be small amounts of physical activity added up within a day; for example, taking a long walk around your neighbourhood, using the stairs instead of the elevator or dancing around to music in your room. Regular exercise will also contribute to better quality sleep and restore your mind to a calmer and more relaxed state.
- Live a healthy lifestyle.
Living a stress-resistant life means making healthy lifestyle choices that will help your body and mind cope when things get overwhelming. This means eating a balanced and nutritious diet full of vegetables and fruit, reducing your caffeine and sugar intake, drinking plenty of water, staying away from temporary and unhelpful stress relievers like alcohol, cigarettes and drugs and getting enough sleep every night.
- Learn to say ‘no.’
Knowing your limits and enforcing boundaries, particularly in your personal and professional relationships, is key to keeping stress levels low. As difficult as it may be saying no to people, there is no glory in taking on more than you can handle and will only increase your risk of burnout and low self-confidence. A simple phrase like, “I’d love to help, but I can’t commit to this as I have other priorities at the moment” is effective and respectful to the other person, as well as respectful to yourself.
- Make time for social connection.
Not only do connecting with people who are supportive, safe and understanding help alleviate stress, it can ease feelings of depression and anxiety and strengthen your resiliency to handle life’s curveballs. Make it a point to schedule a weekly coffee or dinner date with a friend, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your support network or seek invaluable advice when things get tough. This also involves avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent with people who make you feel anxious or burned out.
Although everyone is prone to stress at various points in their lives, the way it is experienced and managed is different for each individual. Some find plenty of stress relief in vigorous physical activity and others find it through meditation, and none are wrong. By experimenting with a variety of stress management techniques and finding out which ones works best for you, you can lead a happier, healthier and more productive life.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.