We all know that taking care of yourself when you’re feeling stressed is important, but it can be hard to stick with this habit. In fact, most people just accept stress as a part of life and don’t do anything about it. The truth is that most forms of stress are avoidable if you learn how to manage your time better, say no more often, take breaks at work, and get regular exercise.
Here are few ways to manage your stress:
1. Manage your time better: Start by getting clear about how you spend your day — write down everything you do. Then review the list and consider which items on it are essential, like going to work. Look for places where you can use your time more effectively, like cooking a double batch of dinner on Sunday so you can freeze some for later. Make your to-do list shorter by removing tasks that stress you out but don’t really need to be done today. I call the ones you need to do, your MIT’s: Most Important Tasks. There should be no more than 2 or 3 per day.
2. Say “no’ more often: Think about stress in terms of what you can control or change and what you can’t. Being stressed about the stress is useless stress, so avoid this by setting limits when you’re asked to do something. One of the most important things you can do to manage stress is to learn how to say “no” more often. Most of us are uncomfortable saying no because we feel like it’s rejecting someone else, but the truth is that stress builds up when you don’t take care of yourself first. Also, make sure to set limits with work and other obligations so stress doesn’t end up controlling your schedule.
3. Take regular breaks: At work, go for a walk or just sit outside your office door in another room during your lunch break. After dinner, take your dog for a short walk before turning on the TV. The idea is to give stress a rest in between periods of activity. If stress is becoming a problem, consider stress management therapy or stress reduction training.
4. Get regular exercise: If stress has gotten the best of you for a while, start exercising so stress doesn’t have to be your constant companion anymore. You’ll feel better about yourself and have more energy when stress tries to creep back in.
5. Relax: Practice deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation techniques when stress starts to get to you. Keep a stress diary for two weeks so you can see how stress is affecting your body. Then implement some stress management strategies that work best for you at the times when stress is at its peak. Good luck.