Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Maybe your boss is less than understanding, you have conflicts with your partner, the bills won’t stop coming, and there never seems to be enough time to get everything done. When stress becomes overwhelming, it can take a toll on your physical health and emotional balance.
You’ll notice you tend to get tired more easily, your appetite changes, and you’re more irritable than usual. This makes it difficult to think clearly, work, and enjoy life. It may feel like you don’t have much control over it, but there are a few things you can do to adjust your reaction to everyday stressors and increase your resilience. The ultimate goal is to find your balance so you can hold up under pressure and face challenges head-on.
Understand the Cause(s) of Your Stress
Everyone experiences and manages stress differently. Something that’s overwhelming for one person can motivating for another. It’s important that you identify the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. You may immediately think of major stressors like financial problems, career changes, and relationship problems. We’re actually looking for the emotional component. How exactly are these factors triggering you, and how do you respond to them in terms of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors?
Do you tell yourself that your stress is temporary, but you can’t even remember the last time you took some time to recover? Do you just look at it as normal, and tell yourself that things are always hectic in your life? Do you blame others or outside circumstances for your stress?
Some things really are out of your control, but until you pinpoint how you’re contributing to your problems, you won’t be able to identify what you can control, what you can do to make life less stressful for yourself. With that end in view, we recommend you keep a stress journal in which you write down things that make you feel stressed and how you react to them. What kind of thoughts, emotions, and behavior they trigger After a while, you will start to see patterns.
As you’re writing in your stress journal, you will notice that some stressors are quite predictable. This means you can either change them, or you can change your reaction to them. For example, if watching the news makes you feel stressed, anxious, upset, you can limit it or stop doing it altogether. You can keep up with the news by reading articles that won’t have as strong an emotional impact as video format. You can also skip some articles if you notice you’re getting upset.
Maybe some people tend to stress you out. You can also limit the time you spend with them or, if possible, take a break from the relationship.
Then look at your schedule. Do you have too much on your plate? Is it possible to delegate, postpone, or eliminate some of your tasks? Choose the most important ones you have time to handle and focus your energy on that. Remember that you need balance. You need time to take care of yourself and recharge, or you won’t be as effective. Resting isn’t a waste of time; it’s essential to productivity.
When something is causing you stress, but you can’t change it, try to reframe the situation. Will this still matter in the long run? Will you care about this or even remember it in a month, a year, ten years? Try to look at the big picture and remind yourself of things that are going well in your life; it will help you put things into perspective.
Avoid Unhealthy Habits
When they feel stressed out or overwhelmed, some people turn to unhealthy habits to cope. They’ll skip on sleep, drink more alcohol and caffeine, rely on junk food instead of nutritious meals, etc. If you do this, it’s probably because it makes you feel better in the moment. Still, when you turn it into a regular coping strategy, you’re actually decreasing your resilience to stress since all of these habits will gradually compromise your health. They’re just crutches that create new problems.
There are healthier alternatives. The fastest way to calm down when you’re feeling stressed is to do some breathing exercises and focus your senses on something else that’s also soothing. For example, you can look through your favorite photos, listen to a song, or play with a pet. You can even chew gum. The point is that when you’re focusing on another sensory experience, that automatic fight-or-flight response will subside because you’re no longer focused on the threat that triggered it.
In the long term, you want to pick up healthy habits. For example, a healthy diet will help you better cope with stress since a well-nourished body is more resilient, and you’ll be better able to regulate your emotions and maintain energy levels. Exercising will help because it releases endorphins. You don’t have to go to the gym every day for an hour. You can start by taking walks or dancing around the house. Choose something you can stick to, and your resilience will increase little by little. You can also try CBD oil. What is CBD oil? CBD stands for cannabidiol, a cannabinoid found in hemp that helps you manage everyday stresses and promotes a sense of calm.
Connect with Others
Few things are as soothing as spending time with someone that makes you feel understood. Since we’re social animals, face-to-face interactions make out brains release chemicals that counteract the fight-or-flight response. We feel calmer when we’re with people that make us feels safe. This seems fairly obvious, but when we’re stressed, many of us tend to withdraw because we feel irritable, and maybe we’re ashamed to admit we’re struggling.
Keep in mind that the people you talk to don’t have to actually fix your stress; they just have to be good listeners. This is enough to help you calm down and gain some perspective. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with family members, friends, and colleagues even when you’re going through hard times. Having a good support network is crucial to our mental health.