Stress is a normal part of life, but sometimes it can be overwhelming.
Perhaps you’ve experienced moments where the stress felt suffocating and unbearable.
This can be a common thing when you’re busy running your own business. Everything depends on you, and it often feels like one slip-up can spell the difference between a successful month and an outright disaster.
When this occurs, you’re going to want to know how to deal with stress.
1. Get Physical
If you find yourself working at a desk for most of the day, one of the best ways to reduce stress is to get up and do something physical.
Get your body moving. Stretch out. Take a walk.
Engaging in physical activity can help the body deal with that sudden rush of chemicals.
If you can, find time to exercise regularly. A few times a week should cut it. Find a sport you enjoy and get involved.
2. Eat Right
It feels like the world is rushing around us at 100 mph these days. We always seem to be on the go.
That leads many people to eating quick snacks, usually junk food.
As you learn how to manage stress, look at what you’re eating and see if there are ways to improve.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate, reducing stress is all about taking care of yourself, and part of that is eating well-balanced meals.
Eating healthy food gives you the nutrients your body needs to deal with stressful situations. Vitamin B, for example, can help you relax and promotes proper function of your nervous system.
3. Be Positive
I’m talking about what the American Heart Association refers to as “positive self-talk.”
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform well. At the same time, we can be overly critical of our own abilities.
Do you ever harshly criticize yourself? Do you put yourself down? Do you tell yourself you can’t do something?
This is the type of talk you need to avoid.
You need to change the negative wording into something more positive.
Instead of saying “I can’t do this,” say “I’m going to give this my best shot.”
Don’t say, “I really screwed up.” Say, “I learned something from the experience, which I’ll use next time.”
Don’t tell yourself, “This always goes wrong when I’m involved.” Tell yourself, “I’ll get through this and become stronger by the end.”
Talk positively every day. The fact that negativity is all around us is bad enough. The last thing you need is for you to bring it on yourself.
4. Get Enough Sleep
It’s a vicious cycle.
If you find yourself going to bed late and getting up early, try to change things up so you’re getting around 7-8 hours of sleep.
Of course, that’s sometimes easier said than done.
Try to eliminate distractions before going to bed.
Don’t look at your smartphone right before turning off the lights.
Don’t drink caffeine in the evening.
Practice some relaxation techniques in the hour before you go to bed.
Speaking of relaxing….
5. Learn How to Relax
Relaxation techniques can be a valuable part of learning how to reduce stress.
As mentioned above, they’re a great way to get better sleep, but you can also practice them during the day.
Try some meditation to clear your mind and relax your body.
Take a bath. Warm water and aromatherapy can do wonders to help you relax.
Even something as simple as visualizing a calming place can be effective. Researchers at UCLA actually discovered practicing “guided imagery” reduces the amount of stress hormones your body produces.
Give relaxation a try, and you’ll see the results.
6. Manage Your To-Do List
As your to-do list grows, you may feel like things are starting to get overwhelming. This is natural when you experience added responsibilities, but it can contribute to stress.
To combat stress, you’ll want to manage your time wisely.
Too often we focus on the whole list of things we have to do. It’s time to prioritize your items.
You’re not Superman. You simply can’t get everything done in one go. Itemize your tasks and list them in order of priority. Then tackle each of them in order.
By doing this, you may discover some items which simply aren’t important at all. Or you may find tasks that lack urgency.
By managing your to-do list, you’ll be more organized. You’ll also learn to accept that there’s nothing wrong with planning to do things at a later time.
7. Limit Your Workload
This tip goes hand-in-hand with managing your to-do list.
You need to learn how to limit your workload, and that means finding people to help you out.
That help can be temporary, or it could be permanent depending on how much you grow.
Reject the feeling that you need to do everything on your own. Instead, focus on doing those things that you enjoy.
Stick to what you have a passion for. Then find someone else to handle everything else. This will keep your stress low and help you achieve greater success.
8. Head Outdoors
Sometimes you just need to step outside and get a breath of fresh air.
Heading outdoors does more than just get you physically away from a stressful situation, it has some added health benefits.
Exposure to the sun leads to an intake of Vitamin D, and as one study notes, Vitamin D can enhance your mood for the better.
So what do you do if you can’t get outside? You may be in a situation where that’s not a possibility. Or you may find yourself in the middle of winter.
If that’s the case, think about adding plants to your workspace.
A study from Washington State University found that after adding plants to the office, research subjects experienced lower blood pressure. In other words, they didn’t get so stressed out.
Never underestimate the value of heading outside, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
9. Write in a Stress Diary
A stress diary can be a helpful way to keep track of whenever you have a particularly stressful incident. On such occasions, write about what happened, the surrounding circumstances, how you felt, and who you were with.
Doing this may help you identify if there are certain triggers in you work or personal life that cause stress.
Be thorough in your documentation. You never know when it could be something minor that leads to major effects.
If you know what sets off stress alarm bells, you can do better at similar situations in the future. That may require removing whatever triggers the episodes, or it could mean learning how to better cope with certain events.
10. Pick Up a Hobby
What better way is there to help you with the stresses of life than with a hobby?
Hobbies can distract us from stressful situations, putting our minds at ease and helping us relax.
Think about the hobbies you currently have. If you don’t have any, think about something you’ve always wanted to take up.
Some of the best hobbies for reducing stress are those which require using your hands, like painting, drawing, or leatherwork. It can be a nice change of pace from the usual grind of staring at a computer screen for hours on end.
Even if you feel like you wouldn’t be good at something, take up a hobby anyway. You never know what will spark your imagination.
Things to Avoid
In addition to the above ideas, let’s go over a few things you’ll want to avoid as you look at how to handle stress.
Don’t oversleep. It may sound enticing, but oversleeping can actually be detrimental to your health. Research shows that getting too much sleep can make you even more tired.
Don’t smoke or drink excessively. Using drugs like tobacco and alcohol may bring about temporary relief, but it often makes the problem worse. That’s in addition to the other health problems they contribute to.
Don’t ignore your responsibilities. It may be tempting to disconnect from life’s responsibilities, but ignoring them completely may make the situation worse. Reducing stress doesn’t mean avoiding all your problems entirely.
Living a Stress-Free Life
Stress doesn’t have to dominate your life. Learn to deal with it, and you’ll feel free again.
If you follow the tips listed above, you’ll see a difference.
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