While some stress is a good thing, constant and overwhelming stress hurts your physical and mental health. It also destroys your productivity. Since you can’t always avoid stress, you have to learn how to manage it so that it doesn’t take over your life. By using a variety of stress management techniques, you’ll gain better control over the stress in how it affects you and how you respond to it.
1. Develop a Relaxation Strategy
An entire post could be dedicated just to various relaxation techniques, but the takeaway here is to pick a few things that help you relax and do them daily. At the very least, do them several times a week. Relaxation techniques help your mind and body enter a calmer state, reducing your reaction to stressors.
Some of the more effective relaxation stress management techniques include:
- Deep breathing
- Listening to soothing music (can also work for productivity)
- Tai Chi
- Relaxing hobby (any hobby that gives you peace is ideal)
Even if you only devote five to ten minutes a day to relaxation, it will help.
2. Make Planning a Priority
How often do you feel stressed because you have too much to do or you’ve forgotten something? Sometimes the best stress management techniques involve reducing stress before it happens.
It’s easy to think you don’t have time for schedule planning, to-dos, habits, etc. However, setting aside 15 to 30 minutes to plan your week helps eliminate stress related to procrastination and forgetting tasks.
You can use productivity planners or planner apps to help you with this. For some people, planning becomes its own form of relaxation.
3. Learn to Forgive Yourself
How often do you spend your nights stressing out over what you should have done? Regrets keep you from resting, focusing, and even moving forward in your life. The stress just keeps building, resulting in physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and irritation.
If this sounds like you, it’s time to forgive yourself for whatever happened. Did you miss an important deadline? Maybe you forgot to send in your application to a job you really wanted. Whatever happened, it’s over now. No matter how big or small, you have to forgive yourself so you can move on.
Write a letter to yourself, say forgiveness affirmations, or create a plan to fix whatever happened. Until you forgive yourself, the stress won’t go away.
4. Get Active
Exercise is one of the top stress management techniques. In fact, 44 percent of adults use exercise to help them deal with stress. You don’t have to do anything extreme – just walking outside or riding an exercise bike indoors helps get your mind off your stress. Add in some fun, happy music, and you’ll get double the benefits.
Try spending just 10 minutes a day doing some sort of physical activity. You can build up over time or even do several sessions a day. You can even try simple office exercises to reduce stress and stay more alert at work. Plus, exercise boosts productivity.
5. Embrace Positive Self-Talk
As weird as it may sound to talk to yourself, positive self-talk changes your mindset. When you’re stressed, all your focus is on the negative or what’s wrong. Force yourself to say something positive to yourself to counter the negative. For example, if you’re stressed because you made a mistake at work, instead of saying, “I’m so stupid, I’m a failure, and I never get anything right,” say, “I made an honest mistake, and I accept the consequences. I’ve learned a lesson and I’ll do better next time.”
Positive self-talk means gradually replacing the negative with positive or even neutral statements so your stress doesn’t seem so overwhelming. Often, getting your mind off dwelling on the negative helps you see the solution to eliminate the stressor completely.
You can also try self-empowerment techniques to get into a more positive mindset.
6. Break Down the Problem
The reason stress takes over so quickly is it makes you feel like you have no control. Stress management techniques help you regain the control. A great way to do this is by breaking down the problem.
Everything seems impossible until you figure out how to do it. The same is true with stress. Write down your stressor and start breaking it apart. Ask yourself things like:
- What’s causing it?
- What factors are involved? (work, certain people, specific situations, certain habits, etc.)
- What parts can you control?
- How can you solve the problem?
7. Write It Out
While journaling may seem too time consuming, writing out your stress each day gets it off your mind. Certain journaling techniques can even help you eliminate bad habits, increase productivity, and help you reach future goals.
You don’t need to do anything complex. Just jot down what’s bothering you and why. This can even be a great start to breaking down your problems. Or, just let it be your way to safely vent so you feel better.
Use any combination of the stress management techniques above to help you regain control over your stress and life.