Too much to do, too little time? You’re not alone. Chronic busyness is a common problem today. Rising costs of living, frequent traffic jams, and perpetual deadlines at work are some factors that contribute to stress. The stress of modern life affects all of us mentally. The only difference is the magnitude; the effect is slight on some, while for others, it is overpowering.
Why is it important to manage stress?
Prolonged stress makes one feel overwhelmed with work and life, leading to mental health problems and, in worse cases, gives way to situations where one’s bodily functions start getting affected.
Eighty percent of stress-related problems are of time pressure origins- people feel stressed because of lack of time. Good time management skills and adequate rest open the door to effective stress management. Here are twelve stress management tips to help you control and reduce stress in your daily life.
1. Get Enough Sleep
When well-rested, you feel fresh, alert, and motivated to take on the challenges of a new day. When you get up tired from bed, you lack the energy to stay on top of your to-do list, making the problems seem worse than they are.
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Keep your bedroom dark and quiet an hour before going to bed. If possible, get some exercise early in the evening, hours before hitting the sack.
2. Achieve Organization
Organize your physical surroundings. This will save you time scouting for items you need, such as files, keys, and sanitizer. Any time you waste looking for things impacts your ability to become productive. Although you might be spending only a few minutes on them, the minutes accumulate to hours over a period, leading to significant backlogs.
Prioritize your tasks every day, and make a schedule to determine what meetings, projects, activities, and jobs you have to do and when. Being organized makes a significant difference in reducing stress levels.
3. Take Breaks
Learn to take breaks when overwhelmed by the situation you are facing. Even ten minutes spent on a brisk walk, putting your feet up, having a cup of coffee, eating something healthy, talking to a friend, or listening to a relaxation tape will relieve stress, refresh you, and give you renewed energy.
So the next time you feel overwhelmed, stop whatever you are doing and take a break for a few minutes.
4. Minimize Procrastination
Don’t put things off for another day. Being worked up about a deadline instead of working to meet it causes more stress.
Make a to-do list of things you need to do by order of importance and deadlines, and start working at the top of the list. Set nag reminders on your cellphone or use stickies in your physical surroundings to remind you of the ultimate goals you plan to achieve within your target time frame.
5. Humor Yourself
Take out some time each day to read comics or listen to something funny. Watch a program that makes you smile or exchange jokes with friends and colleagues. You must also learn to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously.
The power of laughter can’t be overstated. Humour has healing qualities that can get you through challenging times and relieve stress.
6. Eat Healthily
A healthy diet goes a long way in fighting stress. A blend of exercise and balanced meals is the concoction that the doctor prescribes to prevent stress from creeping into your life.
Avoid using alcohol, junk food, and drugs as coping mechanisms.
7. Eliminate, Eliminate, Eliminate
Unsubscribe from unnecessary e-mails, organize your desk to decrease clutter, stop attending meetings where you have no contribution to offer, get off committees and reduce volunteering at fundraisers unless you have an absolute passion for the cause.
The more simple you make your life, the less stress you will incur.
8. Use A Stopwatch
It is human nature to fret about the things that could have gone better. We know the futility of dwelling too much on past mistakes, and yet our mind harps on the past. The best way to deal with these thoughts is to accept them as they come and yet put a stopwatch around the time spent thinking about these moments.
Define a daily time limit beyond which you will not dwell on past regrets. It may range from five to thirty minutes based on your schedule and personality. Next time your mind wanders to these thoughts, let it. But not before taking out a timer to ensure you don’t cross this limit.
9. Avoid Overcommitment
One of the reasons for ending up with so many tasks to do within a limited time is that most people cannot refuse a commitment. Most of us are prone to accept an assignment without checking our schedules and assessing if we have time to accommodate it.
A critical step for effective stress management is to keep regular tabs on your schedule to ensure that you are not over-committed and have enough time to allot to whatever tasks you need to get done.
10. Put It In Writing
Divide a piece of paper into two. In one column, list the urgent things to accomplish this week. In the other column, mention those projects that you can delegate, hire or barter to get done. Putting things on paper puts your tasks in perspective and gives you better control.
You can also make a written list of your challenges and concerns, which will add structure to your woes and make you focus on ways to overcome them.
11. Keep A Stress Journal
Maintain a stress journal to identify your “stress triggers”- the situations or factors that cause stress. Stress triggers are unique to every individual.
Maintain a daily record of events and incidents that lead to stress. Then take time every week to go through the journal and work on the most frequent triggers.
12. Get Away From Screens
Create space for some distraction-free time for yourself every day. Switch off your phone, stay away from the laptop, and don’t sit in front of the TV. Instead, spend that gadget-free time doing something that you like to do.
Even a short break without your phone or laptop will go a long way in relieving stress. It will also help you limit your exposure to disturbing news. Even though we should all care about events like farmers’ protests, new strains of Covid-19, and the Russia-Ukraine war, it’s important to stop doomscrolling and take breaks.
Stress cannot be eliminated, and that’s normal
Always have realistic expectations of yourself. Occasional stress is normal, and will always exist. The key is to manage stress effectively to avoid its long-term consequences. Don’t hesitate to get professional health if you find yourself drained out and mentally exhausted for a prolonged time.
Smita Das Jain is a Personal Empowerment Life Coach, Executive Coach, and NLP Practitioner. She enables busy professionals to transform their passions into pursuits so that they work because they want to, not because they have to. Visit https://www.lifecoachsmitadjain.com/ to learn about Smita’s coaching programs, or book a complimentary session at https://www.lifecoachsmitadjain.com/booking.