12 Effective Ways to Manage Your Stress
No one lives a stress-free life. But, as Hans Selye said, “It’s not stress that kills us; it’s our reaction to it.”
We can control our response to stress – and that will make all the difference.
Use the following 12 tips to help you manage your stress more effectively so you can live a more productive and fulfilled life.
1. Add Balance to Your Life
Everyone has heard the importance of having a healthy work/life balance, but just because you know it is important doesn’t mean you are actually doing it.
This work/life balance goes beyond making sure you aren’t working 80-hour weeks. Are you incorporating fun and friendships into your life?
Outside of doing “what you must do,” what do you spend time doing? If you are feeling stressed, knowing you have something to look forward to – like a hobby or regular brunch with friends – is a wonderful way to lessen stress.
2. Focus on Productivity at Work
Many people are stressed because of their jobs – specifically, all the work they must do. What about you?
Do you struggle with productivity? Are you easily distracted while on the clock? Do you procrastinate from doing other things?
If you answered yes, then you might be experiencing more stress because work keeps piling up.
How can you correct this? Find ways to boost your productivity at work. For example, download a browser extension that prevents you from going to certain websites while working. Determine to work for 25 minutes and take a 5-minute break. Set timers to help you stay focused and on track.
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3. Disconnect During Breaks
Winnie the Pooh once said, “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
This is wise advice – especially for those of us who have trouble disconnecting. When you are on a break or a vacation, don’t get pulled back into the things that stress you out (like work emails or mindless social media scrolling).
Take time to simply be still, turn the noise off, and disconnect.
4. Take a Social Media Fast
There is a clear correlation between social media and stress levels. Some people become stressed when they view what others have or how others live their lives in comparison to their own.
Others stress because social media acts as a time suck, where they somehow lose hours every day mindlessly scrolling.
Sure, social media can be good for connecting with others, but it is wise to set some limits. Put app limits on your devices that keep you from spending an unhealthy amount of time on social media.
Or, if you are really overwhelmed, take a social media fast: Stay off the social networks for a predetermined amount of time and focus on you.
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5. Include Breaks in Your Schedule
When was the last time you added a break to your schedule? Take a good hard look at your calendar.
Are you busy all day, every day? Have you given yourself any time to take a much-needed break? Many people don’t.
From now on, carefully review your schedule and add breaks where you need them. Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be an entire day off. Just a few minutes to decompress may be all you need to keep your stress levels in check.
If you schedule your day down to the hour, add in a coffee break after what you think will be a stressful morning meeting.
6. Spend Time Outdoors
It’s amazing what a little bit of time outdoors will do for you. It’s good for your health and your stress.
Studies have shown that being outside lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) and can decrease your heart rate.
Get outside and breathe in some fresh air. If you have time, try to add in a daily outdoor walk or run. Think you don’t have time for a walk? Try walking during your lunch break.
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7. Practice Meditation
What’s on our minds can lead to increased stress. Let meditation be your ultimate de-stressor.
Taking just a few minutes to meditate daily will go a long way toward decreasing your stress levels.
If you are new to meditation, there are many guided meditations available online, as well as multiple guided meditation apps, like the Yours app. Guided meditations are led by experts who help people enter a state of relaxed concentration.
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8. Make Healthy Choices
The healthier you are, the more prepared you and your body will be to handle any stress that might arise. Adding exercise to your daily routine is beneficial.
If you haven’t been sleeping well, you will not handle stress as well as someone who does. Instead of staying up late binge-watching TV, have a regular bedtime that ensures you get the right amount of sleep. A good mattress, like a Zinus gel-infused memory foam hybrid mattress, can help.
Similarly, eating healthy and avoiding alcohol strengthens your mental defenses.
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9. Decorate Your Home with Plants
Indoor plants are a wonderful way to decorate your space and bring a little bit of the outdoors inside.
In addition to providing beauty, they also have many health benefits, like improving quality, boosting your mood, and reducing your stress.
Having a few indoor plants is an effortless way to create a calming vibe in your home.
10. Watch What You’re Watching
What are you filling up your mind with? If you are spending chunks of time watching, reading, or listening to news stories about difficult topics, you will likely feel more stressed.
This doesn’t mean you have to live unaware of what’s happening around you. What it does mean is being aware of when you’ve had too much.
Set appropriate limits to protect your mind. Note, it’s not just news stories. It could be personal stories on social media, political talking heads on YouTube, true crime podcasts, and the like.
Pay attention to anything that gets your heart racing, as this may be triggering your stress.
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11. Make Time to Connect with Others
In life, there are people who will fill you and those who will drain you.
When you feel stressed, you must avoid those who leave you feeling drained. Instead, look for opportunities to spend time with people who fill you up.
Who do you spend time with that makes you feel comfortable? Who is a good listener? Who in your life makes you laugh freely? Who do you enjoy being around?
These are the people you want to surround yourself with. Meaningful connections can help you find support when you are feeling stressed so you can leave feeling better.
12. Lower Your Expectations
Often, our stress is directly related to our expectations.
We stress ourselves out trying to meet expectations, often unrealistic ones, because of an idea of how something should be rather than what it really is.
Things never go perfectly. Plan for some things to go wrong. If you are setting unrealistic expectations for yourself, stop it and consider setting more realistic expectations.
Yes, we can all do better, but give yourself some grace while you grow into the person you want to be.
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