The world is filled with situations and problems that can cause stress.
Financial pressures, work pressures, emotional trauma, and family problems – the list goes on and on.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce how much these problems cause stress.
This post will explain why stress reduction is so important before sharing the most effective ways to deal with stress.
Why is it important to manage your stress levels?
Living with chronic stress can put your overall well-being at risk.
It can affect the way you think, how you relate to others, and can dramatically reduce how much enjoyment you get out of life.
Researchers have also found that stress can increase the risk of several serious diseases including obesity, depression, heart disease, and cancer.
It’s important to reduce your stress levels as soon as possible, so you can avoid these health complications — and get back to living a life you enjoy!
Effective ways to deal with stress
#1 – Identify the issues causing you stress
The first step to reducing the amount of stress in your life is to identify what is causing your stress.
Major stressors like pressure at work, frequent bills, and marital problems are easy to identify.
However, there may be other stressors that are more insidious, like a niggling health problem, negative self-talk, toxic friendships and so on.
In some cases, the issue you believe is causing you stress may not be the actual cause.
Let’s say you are stressed about deadlines at work.
Is it the deadline that is causing you stress or is the real cause how much you procrastinate each day?
If your relationship with your partner is causing you stress, is it their fault or have you been neglectful somehow?
You may need to dig a little deeper to find the “real” cause of your stress.
To find the real causes of your stress, you may need to reflect on your own attitude, habits, and beliefs.
One useful technique for doing so is a stress journal.
Use this journal to document:
- How stressed you feel each day
- What events trigger stress
- How you react to stressful situations
- How you feel each day (emotionally and physically)
- What you can do better next time
#2 – Alter or avoid stressful situations
After using your stress journal for a few weeks, you will have started to notice a few patterns.
Perhaps an incident at work or an encounter with a certain person increased your stress.
Perhaps your stress levels increased in a traffic jam or when another bill arrived.
Your next step will be to find clever ways to avoid or alter these stressful events.
Here are a few examples of fixes to common stress triggers:
Difficulty paying a bill
Is there an automated weekly payment plan you can use so the next bill won’t trigger as much stress?
Are there ways to reduce the size of the bill?
Can you save money elsewhere?
Can you make more money somehow?
Is financial assistance available?
A work deadline
Have you tried explaining to the boss that the deadline is unreasonable?
Are there any changes you can make at work to get more done each day?
Is help available from a colleague?
Can you reduce your workload in other ways, like delegating?
Someone stressed you out
Did a toxic friend borrow some money and didn’t repay it?
Were they constantly critical of you?
If they are causing you a lot of stress, reduce the time you spend with them or end the relationship.
#3 – Reframe the stressful situation
Another useful option is to simply change the way you perceive the stressful situation, a process called reframing.
Let’s say you are stuck in traffic.
Instead of screaming at other motorists or beeping your horn, use this is an opportunity to listen to a podcast or to relax with perform some deep breathing exercises.
#4 – Replace negative self talk with positive self talk
Everyone has an inner voice in their head.
Sometimes this inner voice can be overly critical of the things that you are doing, which increases your stress levels.
Make a concerted effort to only speak to yourself in a positive way.
This article has some great tips for encouraging positive self talk.
#5 – Participate in activities that reduce stress
There are many activities available which have been proven to reduce stress.
Some of the most effective include:
- Exercise (an extremely stress buster)
- Face-to-face time with loved ones
- Getting more sleep
- Relaxation techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness exercises
- Practicing yoga or tai chi
- Walking your dog
- Creating art (painting, drawing, sculpting etc)
- Journaling your thoughts
- Having more sex
- Talking to a counsellor
#6 – Improve your health
In addition to exercising more, focus on improving your health in other ways.
Avoid substances like caffeine, sugar, alcohol, drugs, and nicotine as they can worsen stress.
Eat a healthy diet that is filled with nutritious foods you enjoy and get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
#7 – Improve your time management skills
A lack of time is one of the most common causes of stress.
When you are stretched thin, it can be difficult to look after both your professional and personal life, and stress begins to mount.
Fortunately, there are several ways to improve your time management skills and work-life balance:
Learn to say no
If other people are constantly asking you for favours which use up all of your time, learn to say no.
Remember that there are only so many hours in the day.
Use todo lists and prioritise tasks
Decide which tasks are the most important and use todo lists to make sure they get done.
#8 – Use “Stress Stoppers”
A Stress Stopper is any technique you can apply to immediately reduce the impact of a stressful event.
These techniques are surprisingly effective and can prevent an annoying incident from causing stress and affecting your health.
Take several deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
As you do so, focus your attention on your bodily sensations, like the feeling of air entering your nostrils and your chest rising or falling.
Perform for several minutes.
Whenever a frustrating or difficult situation that might lead to stress occurs, delay your initial response by counting to 10.
This helps you respond in a more thoughtful and measured way, which can reduce any stress associated with the encounter.
Simply walk away from a situation that is likely to trigger stress.
Go on a toilet break, grass a glass of water, or better yet – talk a short walk outside.
Another useful option is to think about the problem you are confronted with in purely analytical terms.
Break down the problem into smaller chunks that are easier to manage.
This can turn a potentially stressful situation into something easy to manage.
Listen to music
Put your feet up and listen to some relaxing music a few minutes.
Use an affirmation
Affirmations are very handy for quickly changing your emotional state.
A positive affirmation like “My mind is becoming calm and clear” or “I gently release all my worries, doubts and fears” can be surprisingly effective at stopping stress.
Do some pushups
Exercise is an excellent stress stopper as it puts your attention on your body instead of your thoughts.
If you feel your stress levels rising, do some pushups, squats, or sit-ups.
I hope you found The Most Effective Ways To Deal With Stress useful.
Stay tuned for more articles on dealing with stress and improving your work-life balance.