Sometimes, being on top of things all the time can leave a person exhausted. And we’re not talking about just physical tiredness here — it’s more like overall exhaustion that encompasses even one’s emotional and mental health.
If you are all too familiar with this scenario, you might be one of many who is dangerously close to experiencing chronic stress.
While stress is something everyone will naturally experience from time to time, chronic stress is recurring and is sometimes considered a “killer” because of how it messes up a person’s entire system.
Lucky for you, there are several effective ways in which you can manage stress. To start you off, here are 10 practical things you can do to keep stress at bay:
1. Keep It Simple
Reducing your workload in the simplest way can do wonders for your psychological health. To do this, run through the items on your to-do list and ask yourself whether you can survive a day without accomplishing the task. If your answer is yes to an item, then reschedule that task for another day.
2. Prepare a Priorities List
Set the most important tasks on top of your to-do list to prioritize them. You can do this by listing them down according to significance or urgency. Number them from one to 10, with the highest number being the highest priority.
Starting from number 10, move through your list of tasks or itineraries for the day. However, you should remember not to feel bad if you don’t get to number 8. After all, there’s always another day.
3. Accept Your Limitations
Tell your inner critic to take a hike and accept your limitations. At this point, you should have already realized that you are human and can only accomplish what’s humanly possible. If it makes you feel any better, it’s not all your limitations, considering that there are only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week.
4. Seek and Accept Help
In the beginning, you might have thought that you could do everything on your own without having to rely on others. While your independence is commendable, you should know that asking for help isn’t a bad thing. In fact, doing so can keep you sane and happy, which is much more important than anything else.
5. Take a Break
Some situations beyond your control might cause you to feel frustrated with a person. In this case, it will do you good to remove yourself from the scene for a moment to breathe and possibly reset your emotions.
If it isn’t just about a person but an entire situation, then a 10-second stretch or a 10-minute walk can yield wonderful results for your emotional and mental well-being. Don’t overdo it, though, as extended leaves from your responsibilities might be counterproductive for your stress management, especially if you still need to come back to the pile of tasks you left behind.
6. Stop Thinking
Mental and emotional stress is often caused by overthinking. That said, stopping yourself from thinking stressful thoughts and problems that are beyond your control would definitely help.
One technique, called “thought-stop,” may be able to help you do just that. To use this method, simply say “stop” and redirect your mind to more constructive thoughts. The vocalization of the act can help push the idea into your consciousness and put you on the driver’s seat of your thoughts.
7. Be Flexible
To avoid stress, it is important to remember that not everyone can keep up with you — be it in terms of physical capacity or intellectual. However, this doesn’t mean that you should think of yourself to be high and mighty. Rather than passing judgment, try sympathizing and empathizing with others to help you understand where they are coming from and adjust accordingly.
8. Cut the Caffeine and Sugar
Believe it or not, that caffeine and sugar buzz you’ve been craving to ease your stress is actually causing you to feel more stressed out. The more stressed you get, the more you crave; and the more you give in to your cravings, the more you get stressed out. End this vicious cycle by cutting the caffeine and sugar from your diet.
9. Get Enough Sleep
The importance of sleep cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to stress management. If you don’t sleep well, your mental clarity and focus are affected negatively, which also means you’ll probably get stressed out. And if you’re stressed, you won’t get enough sleep.
This is another cycle you have to break. To do this, try to establish a routine that will accommodate healthy sleeping habits. Sleep early to wake up early, and leave those unfinished tasks for another day.
10. Learn to Say “No”
Another major source of stress would be the various favors you agreed to do. Sometimes, you might feel like you can’t let other people down because it will reflect poorly on how they see you as a person.
But this just isn’t true, especially if you know how to politely decline such favors or “offers.” Saying “no” is good for your mental health. It may be difficult at first, but it is necessary for you to effectively manage your stress levels.
Manage Your Stress Well to Live Well
Like dark chocolate, minimal stress is necessary to ensure that your life has just the right thrill and excitement to make it worth living. However, it can become a problem if you have been experiencing chronic stress. If you’re still having trouble dealing with it after practicing these tips, consider making an appointment with a therapist.
Dr. Gemma Gladstone is an endorsed clinical psychologist and certified schema therapist, supervisor and trainer. Along with Justine Corry, she is co-director of the Good Mood Clinic in Sydney and has 24 years of experience within mental health.