Everyone experiences stress sometimes, and everyone deals with it in a different way. When it isn’t dealt with, it can have a strong negative impact on your life.
Stress management is so important in the workplace as well as everyday life because it can come from anywhere.
The most common causes and effects of stress
Stress is most often caused by being unable to meet demands, deadlines, and expectations. You get stressed when you are struggling to perform a certain way or feel like something is too much for you.
A little stress isn’t anything that your body can’t handle, but when it becomes chronic then it can seriously harm your mental, emotional, and physical health.
When you get stressed your body releases hormones like cortisol which can have all kinds of immediate, lasting, and even knock-on effects. These include weight gain or weight loss, hair loss, irregular menstrual cycles, acne, brain fog, poor sleep, and more.
Healthy ways to manage stress
1. Identify stressors
There are many different things that could be stressing you out. This could be a low salary, too much work, lack of career progression, lack of social support, etc. Try and pinpoint what it is that’s lacking in your life so that you can better manage how it affects your life and avoid it in the future.
2. Develop boundaries
It’s easy to feel pressured to accomplish everything that everyone expects of you all of the time.
Try and ensure that you have a healthy work-life balance, and set boundaries to separate them by keeping them apart and contained. Some ways to do this are by switching off your work phone and not looking at work emails outside office hours and taking regular vacations.
Additionally, you also need to be able to tell people “no”. While it might sound easy, it’s very difficult in practice to be able to put your foot down. Practice telling people when you are unable to take a task on because you don’t have the capacity to.
One of the most tried and true ways to let out stress is to exercise. You don’t have to go running for hours to ‘do it right’; rather, it’s about moving your body in a way that feels good for you and isn’t working against your body.
For example, cardio can come in the form of cycling, rowing, running, jogging, hiking, or even brisk walking. You could try dance, self-defense, Pilates, or just go for a walk on a treadmill and watch a show or movie on your phone while you’re at it.
Exercising releases endorphins, helps you release stress and tension, and is good for your overall health and longevity.
4. Make time to relax
The best way to do this is to take breaks. For about every half an hour or hour of work that you do, take a 5-minute break. You can go for a walk, meditate, stretch, have a snack, or even just stare at a wall. This will help you to rest your eyes, rest your brain, and pace yourself.
Aside from that, you can also have a little ritual in the winding-down period where you finish work and transition into your personal life. You could listen to music or take a walk – whatever it is, it can bring you back into a peaceful state of mind.
5. Have a balanced diet
The food that you eat has a profound effect on how you feel as well as how your brain and body work. Eating right only helps you to control your moods and eating enough will help to avoid putting you in a bad mood in the first place!
Try and eat enough fruits, vegetables, lean protein, fiber, water, and whole grains. You should also be having the right amounts of vitamins and minerals. Make sure to tailor your diet for your intolerances, activity levels, and any chronic conditions that you might have.
6. Talk to someone
Don’t suffer in silence. Whatever you’re going through will be worse if you bottle it up. Instead, vent to a family member or friend that you feel listens well and won’t invalidate how you feel. Speak to your manager if you can’t handle what you’ve been given. Ask a coworker for help if you don’t understand how to handle a task.
You might be surprised at how much of a difference it makes.
7. Be kind to yourself
There’s no point doing all of the things on this list if you don’t do this as well. Being kind to yourself doesn’t mean that you don’t push yourself to achieve great things, rather it means that you know what your limits are and don’t force yourself past them into burnout territory.
Treat yourself with compassion because you deserve it. Do all of these things to manage your stress because you deserve to live a healthy, peaceful life.
Find what works for you
These are the best stress management strategies around but what works for you will take some time to figure out. You might need one or a combination of these options.
Give yourself time, space, and kindness, and soon your stress will be a lot more manageable.