Mind - Stress Management
Stress is a daily part of our lives. But by creating a healthy lifestyle, you can help manage your stress levels. By letting stress take over your life, it can create havoc with all areas of our lives – work, school, personal relationships. Too much stress can contribute to a loss of confidence or irritability which can affect our performance on the job or in school. If we ignore the warning signs, the side effects can contribute to physical and emotional health problems. Before anxiety takes hold of your emotions, learn how to be proactive in managing stress in your daily life.
1Recognize the signs
- Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
- Apathy, loss of interest in work or school
- Withdrawing from social situations with family and friends
- Problems sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Muscle tension or headaches
- Stomach problem
- Weight gain or loss
2Alleviate Stress by Taking Care of You
When stress interferes with your ability to perform in your job or school, manage your personal life, or it adversely impacts your health, it’s time to take action. Start by paying attention to your physical and emotional health. When your own needs are taken care of, you’ll be stronger and more resilient to stress. The better you feel physically, the better equipped you’ll be to manage work or school responsibilities without becoming overwhelmed.
Taking care of you can be as simple as making small positive lifestyle choices. Take one step at a time and you’ll notice a difference in how you handle your stress levels, at home, at work or at school.
Aerobic exercise is a quick fix to lift your mood, increase energy, sharpen focus, and relax both the mind and body. For maximum stress relief, try to get at least 30 minutes of activity a day. If it’s easier to fit into your schedule, break up the activity into two or three shorter segments. Also, take short breaks throughout the day to move and stretch your body. If a formal fitness routine is difficult to manage at first, walking may be easier to fit in. Go for a 20 minute walk on your lunch break. Walk to school – get off the bus a few stops earlier, park further away or take a walk between classes. Read More in our Fitness Section.
Make healthy food choices
Low blood sugar can make you feel anxious and irritable, while eating too much can make you lethargic. By eating small but frequent meals throughout the day, you can help your body maintain an even level of blood sugar and avoid mood fluctuations. Focus on healthy food choices. Read more in our Nutrition section.
Drink alcohol in moderation and avoid tobacco
Alcohol temporarily reduces anxiety and worry, but drinking too much can cause anxiety as it wears off. It can also affect sleep cycles, which will aggravate stress. Used excessively, it can contribute to other problems that add even more, unnecessary stress to our lives. For example, abusing alcohol can lead to hangovers, blackouts, alcohol poisoning which can negatively impact our health. It can also lead to lost time at work or school causing a setback in our already busy schedules.
Smoking may seem calming when you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed, but nicotine is a powerful stimulant – leading to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety. Read More in our Blog - Breaking Old Habits
The benefit of a good night’s sleep is often ignored, but sleep is just as important as healthy food and exercise in maintaining good health. While stress and worry can cause insomnia, a lack of sleep can leave you vulnerable to even more stress. So the cycle begins. When you're well-rested, it's much easier to keep your emotional balance, a key factor in coping with stress. Sleep increases blood supply to our muscles, allowing our bodies to physically recover from the day's stresses. It also improves performance and memory. Plus, sleep improves our overall health and well-being – boosting our immune system to fight off illness. Read More about Benefits of Sleep
Meditation can be a powerful tool to reduce stress. But many people may avoid this practice because they feel it is too abstract and not for them. However, the benefits of this simple, soothing technique are worth a closer look. When practicing meditation, your heart rate and breathing slow down, your blood pressure normalizes and you use oxygen more efficiently. Gradually, your stress levels begin to reduce. Your adrenal glands produce less cortisol, your immune function improves, your mind clears and your creativity increases. An effective meditation practice requires approximately 15-20 minutes of your time in a quiet space. Read More about Benefits of Meditation.
3Create a Personal, clutter-free workspace
Whether you work in an office, at home or you are a student, it’s important to create a productive workspace. Personalize your workspace with things that calm and soothe you - perhaps with personal photos or inspirational quotes. Organize and de-clutter your space. Clutter creates stress by vying for your attention. When you organize your workspace, it helps de-clutter your mind as well.
4Prioritize and Organize Responsibilities
Here are a few tips to help prioritize and organize.
Time management tips:
- Balance your schedule. Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks – both work and personal. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary pursuits, daily responsibilities and downtime. Focusing solely on work and school can lead to burnout.
- Don’t over-commit yourself. Avoid scheduling things back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day. All too often, we underestimate how long things will take. If you have too much on your plate, drop tasks that aren't truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.
- Try to allow yourself enough time in the morning. Even 10-15 minutes can make the difference between frantically rushing to your office or school and having time to ease into your day. Don’t add to your stress levels by running late.
- Plan regular breaks. Take short breaks throughout the day to go for a walk or sit back and clear your mind. Also try to get away from your desk or studies for lunch. Stepping away will clear your mind and even increase your productivity.
Task management tips:
- Prioritize tasks. Make a list of tasks you have to do, and tackle them in order of importance. Do the high-priority items first. If you have something particularly unpleasant to do, get it over with early. You'll be able to relax and enjoy the rest of your day more.
- Break projects into small steps. If a large project seems overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan. Focus on one step at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.
- Compromise. When you ask someone to contribute differently to a task, revise a deadline, or change their behavior at work or at home, be willing to do the same. Sometimes, if you can find a happy middle ground it reduces the stress levels for everyone concerned.