10 Effective Ways to Beat Stress
Stress is built into leading our lives, so measures to keep us calm and collected must be too.
Stress, when not managed well, can turn into an insidious problem in our lives that can literally take over, turning our emotions inside out. Left unchecked, stress has the power to derail our health, relationships and our careers. In reality, a healthy amount of stress is necessary for us to stay motivated and inspired, but when stress levels are unhealthy we easily fall into shut-down mode. To follow are some simple things to start doing immediately to help get your stress levels under control.
1. Break tasks down.
Live by the motto; “Hit the ball that is in front of you.” The most productive way to get through the day is to focus solely on the task at hand. When we focus on one task at a time we are guaranteed to produce higher quality work, rather than producing larger quantities of work that maybe received a 1/3 of our attention. When we narrow our focus, we save ourselves the stress of having to do our work over in order to get it right. Breaking our responsibilities down takes practice, and we will undoubtedly feel urges to do other things, but we must discipline ourselves to stay focused on the task we’re in.
Related: Why Smart People Don't Multitask
2. Prioritize your schedule.
A hectic schedule is a major cause of stress. We are each only one person. On good days, we can probably do the work of ten people, but day after day this becomes unmanageable. To have any longevity, we must simplify what is on our schedules by reducing the number of commitments we have to those that are the most essential and beneficial to us. We must practice the skill of saying No when we need to say No. This helps us weed out extra commitments that become time consuming success-stealers. To start, we can begin scheduling fewer commitments each day and allow for time in between each meeting. We can use the time in between to refuel before we head into our next commitment.
3. Get moving.
Healthy brain chemistry is dependent upon being active. Make sure to do something each day to be active. We don’t all need to hire personal trainers or do cross fit to be active. We can do something as simple as walk, play a sport, go for a light run, do yoga, hike or hit the gym. Movement, in any form, is enough to greatly reduce stress. Further, whatever we can do to exercise outside is even better. We are crammed indoors most of the day, so getting outside gives us the pure oxygen our brains need to recharge and de-stress.
4. Develop healthy living habits.
The big three healthy living habits which decrease stress are; getting enough sleep, good nutrition (which includes drinking enough water), and exercise. The healthier our bodies are, the better our emotional and mental states become. Getting healthier has the domino effect of changing our bad habits with less effort. For instance, when we have a great workout, the last thing we’ll be driven to do afterwards is smoke, drink too much alcohol or eat unhealthy food. We don’t want to throw away all the work, time and effort we just put into ourselves.
5. Find calming activities.
We must examine what types of activities calm us down, and start doing more of these things to help decrease our stress. Read, take a bath, meditate, do yoga, relax and watch TV, take a nap, write in a journal, be sexual etc. Whatever the activities are, we must engage in them daily to allow ourselves a “come down” after a hard day’s work. We each need time to refuel and connect with our lives and loves outside of work. We could each use a technology break from our phones and emails, as well. We cannot connect to the life we have outside our office if we bring the office with us wherever we go.
6. Simplify finances.
If money is the focus of our lives, stress will follow. We must manage our money well to not have the stress of money. When money is not managed it can become a relentless burden in our lives. The more debt, the more stress. To simplify our finances, we can seek advice from a financial adviser and start following their direction. Spend less, shop less and save more. Getting out of debt must be a priority. As we simplify our financial lives, we can start to develop a healthier and more respectful relationship with money. The more we respect our finances, the less stressful they will be.
7. Live with joy.
If we love our lives, our lives will love us back. The more we focus on our lives, loving what we do each day, being passionate, and being kind to other people, we will have more joy and less stress. What is life worth if there is no joy? We must be conscious of what makes us happy, and make sure to take part in those things which bring us joy. How great would it be to work every day, and be so passionate about what we do that it doesn’t feel like work? The more joy we have inside, the more we bring that with us wherever we go, and the less stressful our lives are to live.
8. Be creative.
Creativity trumps stress. Being creative is soothing. Creativity gives us hope for a brighter future. When we’re creative, we realize that anything is possible. Whatever we do creatively, related to our careers or not, is a place of growth, a place of peace and a place of curiosity. These emotional states draw us into ourselves, into the core of who we are, connecting us with our spirits. This connection is where all good things begin because this place within each of us, is where love lives. The more connected we are to this, the less stress we experience.
9. Clear your clutter.
When we surround ourselves with clutter, it’s a visual reminder of what is not yet completed or organized in our lives. We must commit to carving out small chunks of time to clean our drawers, get rid of unnecessary paperwork, files, clothes, and whatever else we’re not using. Visual clutter, especially in our work-space can bog us down with feelings of overwhelm that are not conducive to a positive or peaceful state of mind. Environment is incredibly important when it comes to stress. Further there is something deeply cathartic and stress-reducing in getting organized.
10. Arrive early.
There is nothing more stressful than not being good with time. To decrease our stress and the stress levels of others, make being on time a habit. When we’re late we create stress between ourselves and the people we are meeting. We put everyone behind schedule; increasing everyone’s stress. This tension can kill the productivity of meetings because when we’re late, we make people feel as if we do not respect their time, and they in turn take us less seriously. Further, we carry the added stress of knowing we inconvenienced important players in our business. Leave early, and put space between meetings as a way to make sure to be on time.
Decreasing stress comes down to being responsible to ourselves, our health, our careers and the people we love. Without a sense of responsibility, we let things go. When this happens, stress builds upon itself and overflows into all areas of our lives. For this reason, we must be responsible in staying up on our basic needs, and the rest will fall more easily into place.
Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person. Her new book, Success Equations: A Path to an Emotionally Wealthy Life, is available for pre-order.