Everyone has daily stress in their lives; the question isn’t whether you have stress but, rather, how you manage it. It’s important to learn to say no to people and to delegate tasks when you can, but how can you handle the everyday stress that accompanies life? Whether it’s work, kids, the house, volunteer obligations, your friends, or your extended family that’s adding stress to your life, here are nine ways that you can manage it.
1. Start Your Day in Silence
Waking up before the others in the household and having quiet time can get your day started off on the right foot. Even 15 to 30 minutes is enough for you to calmly get dressed and spend a few minutes reading, meditating, journaling, or doing something else that you enjoy before the morning rush begins. This can put you in the right frame of mind to deal with the daily stress that is sure to crop up. Try waking up just a bit earlier to make time for this activity. It might be difficult at first, but after a few days, you will get used to the new routine.
2. Plan Your Day the Night Before
When you know what to expect when you open your eyes in the morning, you’ll be under less stress, even if the tasks in front of you are somewhat stressful. Part of what makes many people feel stressed is a sense of not knowing what is going to happen next. Before going to bed, check your calendar for the next day. Know what’s happening so you can choose an outfit, making sure that you have everything you need to avoid morning mayhem. Also, have an idea of which errands you need to run and if you need anything from the grocery store. This can minimize backtracking, which is frustrating and stressful.
3. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Keeping a list of things that you’re grateful for can help you look past the daily stress in your life and focus instead on what’s going well. Spend a few minutes at the end of each day writing down a few things you’re grateful for. Over time, not only will your perspective have changed but you’ll also have a list of happy events and observations to refer to when you are going through tough times. If you’re having trouble getting started, check out some gratitude journal prompts to spark your creativity.
4. Make Time to Exercise
Exercise doesn’t make stress go away, but it does help you react to it with less anxiety and depression. The CDC recommends that all adults get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. It can be as simple as going for a brisk walk, and you don’t have to get it all in at once. If you can fit in 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes during your lunch break, and 10 minutes before or after dinner, you just might start seeing your stress levels improve.
5. Get Enough Sleep
It’s much more difficult to deal with daily stress when you are sleep-deprived. If you aren’t getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night, it’s likely that you’re not getting the rest you need. Getting enough sleep has physical and mental benefits. Start going to bed a little earlier each night. You’ll know when you’ve hit your sweet spot when you are waking up feeling well-rested. Also, while many people hit an afternoon slump after lunch, you shouldn’t be so tired that you’re nodding off. If you suffer from insomnia or you can’t stay asleep, talk to your doctor.
6. Take Up a Hobby
While it might seem like taking up a hobby is just one more thing to squeeze into your already-busy days, making time to spend on something you enjoy will make you happier and reduce your stress levels. It doesn’t have to be particularly time-consuming. You could take up reading, crocheting, or some other hobby that might take only 15 minutes in the evenings before bed.
7. Learn Relaxation Techniques
If you are dealing with daily stress, learning how to relax is something that can help your overall health and wellness. There are several methods of relaxation, so try a few and see what feels right for you. For example, you might try the following:
- Progressive muscular relaxation
- Guided meditation
- Breathing exercises
You might also enjoy taking a hot bath, getting a massage, or indulging in other self-care activities. On days that you’re feeling particularly stressed out, spending even five minutes relaxing can make a world of difference.
8. Cut Back on Caffeine
Caffeine can jump-start your day and keep you alert in the afternoon, but it can also increase your anxiety levels, making stress feel that much stronger. It creates a cycle: You drink more coffee, tea, or cola to combat the tired, overwhelmed feelings that you get from having too much stress, and the stress, in turn, makes you feel more overwhelmed. While you don’t have to cut out caffeine entirely (and should not do so cold-turkey, since it can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms), try cutting back to one or two cups per day. It’s best to finish all of your caffeinated beverages before mid-afternoon so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep.
9. See Your Doctor
If you’re really struggling with stress and you’ve done what you could to lighten your load and relax, your physician might be able to help. He or she can run some blood tests to see if you’re deficient in vitamins; for example, a vitamin D deficiency can cause symptoms of depression that can make you feel more stressed out than normal. Also, the doctor can refer you to a mental health counselor to help you manage everything on your plate.
Taking control of your daily stress and learning how to deal with daily frustrations can make you a happier person and might even have physical health benefits. Make some lifestyle changes and seek help if needed.