We live in a fast-paced world and many of us are faced with numerous stressors. We are faced with deadlines at work, helping our children with their homework, trying to keep up with our bills, and even attempting to live up to the ideals we see in our social media every single day. It is not an easy task and inevitably, our bodies are feeling the effects of this stress and we must find strategies to cope with stress.
Many of us are struggling to find different strategies to cope with stress and some of us are successful. However, some of us find the struggle very overwhelming and may even be dealing with depression. So, I hope to offer you my 9 different ways to cope with stress that can lead to a better you, a better existence.
#1. Time Management
Each and every day is filled with a myriad of decisions that need to be made and situations that require your attention. Before you begin tackling any of them, take the time to prioritize your day.
Create a list of what you must accomplish and be careful to not over-schedule your time and make allowances for interruptions or unexpected circumstances.
#2. Reality Check
Take a step back from your current situation and think about it objectively. Are you envisioning it far worse than it actually is?
Or perhaps you are playing the “what if” game?
- What if I get kicked out of my house?
- What if my car gets repossessed?
- What if my spouse never recovers from his injury?
More than likely, because your feelings are already heightened, you are overthinking things and imagining the worst-case scenarios.
Pretend you are speaking to a friend and helping them evaluate the situation. Talk to yourself as you would to them.
#3. Taking Breaks
You are not a machine. As much as you wish you were, you simply cannot work, work, work, and expect positive results. Our bodies and minds need breaks to rejuvenate. Take a few minutes to stretch or take a quick walk around the block – these are simple strategies to cope with stress.
Perhaps watching a few funny videos online to take your mind off things can give you that extra boost of energy.
#4. Set Aside Time to Relax
It may seem like we are on a never-ending schedule. And although this may be true, that schedule needs to involve more than just work tasks. Set aside time on a daily basis to relax. At first, it may be difficult to achieve or even feel like you are wasting your time. Trust me, you are not. It gives you the opportunity to recharge.
Relaxing doesn’t mean you need to sit there like a zombie. Maybe it is sitting in your bedroom for ten minutes with the lights off and some soft music. Maybe it means engaging in something you enjoy doing. These are just a few self-care practices that can help you.
#5. Breathe Deeply
Close your eyes. Yes, like right now. Pay close attention to your breathing. Are your shoulders rising? Are your breaths shallow and quick? Is your chest rising? If you answered yes to these questions, you are not breathing in a relaxed manner.
Now try again.
- Put your hand on your belly.
- Breathe deeply and slowly through your nose.
- Envision your belly expanding like a balloon.
- Count to ten as you breathe in.
- Now release that air slowly through your mouth, while counting to ten.
Repeat this process 10 times. You should feel a sense of relaxation and you may even feel some dizziness. This means more oxygen is reaching your brain.
When I am struggling to sleep at night, this breathing technique is something I implement along with some other things to help me fall asleep quicker.
Stress often leaves us feeling overwhelmed and tense. Take ten minutes to sit in a quiet spot. (Find it wherever you can – it may even be in the closet downstairs or in the bathroom!). Close your eyes and begin with the breathing technique mentioned previously.
Begin to visualize a place you would rather be. Maybe it is on the beach in the Mayan Riviera at sunrise. Or maybe in the woods as the sun filters through the canopy of trees. Or perhaps it is even midnight on a snowy day with the moonlight guiding your way.
#7. Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating properly is key to dealing with your stress in a positive way. Your body and brain need the appropriate fuel to function properly.
When we are stressed, we often make poor diet choices that are often high in fats and sodium and most often highly processed. This can lead to various health issues and even affect how our brains function.
We lack the energy to cook and prepare healthy meals. However, you would be surprised by the meals you can make from a rotisserie chicken or even the nutritional benefits of adding tomato to a sandwich.
#8. Regularly Exercise
You just had the worst day at work. You got a flat tire on the way home. And your dog just pooped on the rug. You are thoroughly exhausted. I get it as I have been there. However, make time to exercise on a regular basis.
Maybe this means getting up a half-hour earlier in the morning to take a brisk walk. Perhaps it means supper maybe a few minutes later than usual because you are working through a yoga video on Youtube. Or it could mean something as simple as taking the stairs at work any time the opportunity presents itself.
Exercise allows your muscles to stretch and your mind to clear. Although it may seem difficult to do, the other option of living a sedentary life can lead to many health issues.
Keeping your frustrations inside can create physical health issues but also mental health problems. Find someone like a family or friend whom you can trust to talk about your stressful situations. Often venting about them can take that proverbial weight off your shoulders.
One word of caution – be careful to not get caught in a perpetual cycle of negativity. Negativity often breeds more negativity and prevents you from moving forward. Changing your mindset and attempting to be positive even in negative situations is vital as one of the strategies to cope with stress.
Stress will always be a part of our lives but it is how we choose to cope with it that makes all the difference between being tense and upset or feeling free and happy.
If you have tried the above-mentioned strategies to cope with stress and still are not feeling some relief, reach out to a mental health professional whose expertise lies in stress management.