Stress Management 101
Work. School. Children. Relationships (or lack thereof). Politics. Money. The list goes on…
There are so many things in our lives that can cause undue stress. And stress can negatively impact your health on a number of levels. For example, stress can: elevate your blood pressure; cause physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches; It can cause weight gain; weight loss; mood related symptoms like anger, irritability, and depression; sleep problems, and more. Luckily, there are tactics you can use to help you cope with large stressors related to work and your personal life.
Here are a few helpful suggestions:
Work-related stress management
You spend at least 30% of your day in the office (for many, that number is significantly higher). Job function aside, it stands to reason that your job would contribute significantly to your stress level. The key to work-related stress management is all about prioritizing.
Prioritize your to-do list
It is easy to become overwhelmed by looking at a long list of tasks, but remember that not every single item on your to-do list can or should be done immediately.
To better understand your tasks, separate each item in terms of urgency and importance. Not all items that are urgent are important, and not all items that are important are urgent. Break down your tasks into A Tasks - These are the tasks that are both urgent and important. They should be done immediately, B Tasks - These are the things that are Important but not urgent, they should be done next, and C Tasks - These are tasks that are not important or not urgent - these may become a priority in the future, but for now, do not make these a focus.
From there, rank order your A tasks to figure out which are most important or are most easily completed. As a rule, try to knock out the quickest items first. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and help you build momentum.
Learn to say "no"
Congratulations! You have made yourself an indispensable member of your team at work. You are the person everyone relies upon to get stuff done. You are a yes-man (or yes-woman). But by being a yes-man, you have opened yourself up to being taken advantage of. You are given a zillion tasks a day, and accept them with a smile. Meanwhile, back at your desk, your are drowning under a mountain of paperwork, and have no idea how your are going to get it all done. You have prioritized your to do list, but it’s still too much. Does this sound familiar?
So many people put their work over their physical and emotional health and wellbeing. Work is important, but so are you. Remember to prioritize yourself. Learn that it is ok to say no sometimes. It doesn’t mean you aren’t being a team player - it means you want to make sure you are doing your best work - it’s impossible to keep your quality consistently high when juggling too many projects; eventually you are going to burn out. Asking for help is ok, too. Asking for, and receiving help is the first step in learning how to delegate properly. It is a skill that everyone needs to master in order to get ahead. Go ahead, give both of these a try at the office, because you are worth it.
Set goals…and achieve them
Each morning before you dive into your work, it is a great practice to set yourself a goal, or several goals that you would like to accomplish that day or by a particular time. For example: “I will make 12 calls by 10 AM by focusing on X”, or “I will send 50 emails by the end of the day to X for X reason” The more specific you make your goal, the more likely you will be to achieve them. The more you are able to achieve, the less stress you feel.
Give yourself "me time"
Again, remember to prioritize yourself. Take small breaks throughout the day to practice deep breathing, or read a few posts on your favorite blog, take a walk with your co-worker and talk about anything other than actual work. You are spending a big chunk of your day at your office - you should probably find some small stress-relieving way to enjoy it.
Personal Stress Management
Maybe you have work totally under control, but your are stressed about your family, your friends, your love life, your financial situation or more. These tactics revolve around one concept: Inner-Peace. While it is definitely easier said than done, here are a few ways to help you find some balance.
Try out a Wellness App
There are so many great apps out there today that help you manage your stress. Try out Headspace, Calm or 7 Cups. these apps can help calm your nerves quickly (some in as little at 30 seconds), or chat about your feelings without burdening anyone. Have a stress relief app that you rely on? Let us know about it in the comments below.
Get your sweat on
There is nothing better than a good old-fashioned sweat sesh to help you clear your mind. Try going for a run, doing some yoga (particularly Bikram to sweat out some toxins), or going to Crossfit where you can hit giant tires with enormous sledge hammers. You could even try some more relaxing guided meditation classes. Still haven’t figured out your favorite stress relieving fitness routine yet? LAUNCH can help you figure it out!
De-clutter your life
Cleaning up your home can have a huge impact in your stress levels. coming home to a neat, tidy space can make you feel happier and more productive. Plus, not unlike working out, the physical act of cleaning can help you clear your head and gets your blood circulating. Next time you are feeling a bit stressed out, try tidying up a bit around the house, it may help give you some peace of mind.
Self care is important. Take a day to yourself to get a massage, have a spa day, watch your favorite movie or a new one you’ve been wanting to see, indulge in a glass of wine and some chocolate. But remember, self care doesn’t have to break the bank - almost all of the ideas above can be modified or adapted to be done at home while spending little to no money. Above all else, listen to your body. It is probably telling you to get some sleep. Once you have some time to catch up on sleep, your body and mind will be much better able to handle external pressure and keep your stress resistance levels high.
The LaunchPad will be back with more Stress Management techniques in the future. For now, try these out and share your experiences below!