10 Tips For Combatting Common Daily Stressors
Dr. Ashley Margeson
When it comes to understanding how your stress impacts your health, it’s important to recognize that stress is something we all deal with. In our modern world, there is no-one who is immune to stress. But this doesn’t mean that we just “deal” with it… it means that we need to learn how to cope with stressors before they hit us hard. Here are my 10 tips for doing just that.
Decrease your caffeine and alcohol intake
A jump in the morning to give you more energy and a forced relaxation at night might help bandaid the symptoms of stress, but it means you’re constantly reaching for these two products to help you out. Swap caffeinated and alcoholic drinks for water, herbal teas, or diluted natural fruit juices and aim to keep yourself hydrated as this will enable your body to cope better with stress.
Stop running and start walking
Stressful situations increase the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in your body. Running and high intensity activities also do this. Unless you’ve been running your whole life, when you feel stressed and tense, go for a brisk walk in fresh air. Try to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis, either before or after work, or at lunchtime. Regular physical activity will also improve the quality of your sleep.
Preserve good boundaries
If you’re a people-pleaser, saying no feels like you’re abandoning someone, have become a terrible person or are throwing all civility out the window. But of course that couldn’t be further from the truth. Plus, those few seconds of discomfort are well worth avoiding the stress of taking on an extra activity or doing something that doesn’t contribute value to your life.
Many productive, happy people are very protective of their time and having their boundaries crossed. But not to worry: Building boundaries is a skill you can learn.
Embrace mistakes—or at least don’t drown in perfectionism.
Trying to be mistake-free and essentially spending your days walking on eggshells is exhausting and anxiety-provoking. Talk about putting pressure on yourself! And as we all know but tend to forget: Perfectionism is impossible and not human, anyway.
Brene Brown is a strong advocate for eliminating perfectionism at home and in the workplace. AND – mistake-mistaking can lead to growth. To overcome perfectionism, she suggests becoming more compassionate toward yourself. I couldn’t agree more.
Consider what you can control—and work on that.
While you can’t control what your boss does, what your in-laws say or the sour state of the economy, you can control how you react, how you accomplish work, how you spend your time and what you spend your money on.
The worst thing for stress is trying to take control over uncontrollable things. Because when you inevitably fail — since it’s beyond your control — you only get more stressed out and feel helpless. So after you’ve thought through what’s stressing you out, identify the stressors that you can control, and determine the best ways to take action.
Rest If You Are Sick
This one is easy to say and hard to do. If you are feeling unwell, do not feel that you have to carry on regardless. A short spell of rest will enable the body to recover faster.
Get Some Serious Sleep
There’s a reason sleep deprivation is a form of torture. A lack of sleep is a significant cause of stress. Unfortunately though, stress also interrupts our sleep as thoughts keep whirling through our heads, stopping us from relaxing enough to fall asleep.
Your aim should be to maximize your relaxation before going to sleep. Make sure that your bedroom is a tranquil oasis with no reminders of the things that cause you stress. Avoid caffeine during the evening, as well as excessive alcohol as this leads to disturbed sleep. You should also aim to go to bed at roughly the same time each day so that your mind and body get used to a predictable bedtime routine.
Each day, try to relax with a stress reduction technique. This doesn’t mean you have to meditate every day though, it could be taking a bath, going for a slow walk, colouring or even cooking a nice meal. Focus on something that doesn’t involve your brain spinning.
Manage your time
One of the biggest stressors for many people is lack of time. Their to-do list expands, while time flies. How often have you wished for more hours in the day or heard others lament their lack of time? But you’ve got more time than you think. We all have the same amount of hours, and yet there are plenty of people who are dedicated parents and full-time employees and who get at least seven hours of sleep a night and lead fulfilling lives.
Start by making a list of where your time is going. You might end up being surprised.
Negotiate with your schedule
Review your daily and weekly activities to see what you can pick off your plate. Ask yourself tough questions – “Do your kids really love their extracurricular activities, or are they doing them to please you? Are you volunteering for too many causes, and so stealing time from the ones where you could make the most impact? Does your whole department really need to meet once per week or have that daily conference call?”
Then ask even harder questions – “Do [my activities] mesh with my goals and values? Am I doing things that give my life meaning? Am I doing the right amount of things?”
Stress makes it hard to expend energy to change a routine. So start thinking about these questions slowly – you don’t have to change it all at once.
Realize there’s a difference between worrying and caring.
Sometimes, our mindset can boost stress, so a small issue mushrooms into a pile of problems. We continue worrying, somehow thinking that this is a productive — or at least inevitable — response to stress. But we mistake worry for action.
Worrying is an attempt to exert control over the future by thinking about it, whereas caring is taking action. Ask yourself these questions…
“worrying about my health involves…”
“caring about my health involves…”
Harness Your Hormones
Grab our Hormone Optimization guide to make you more productive in chasing your goals.
And maybe ditch the PMS… or at least get some actionable tools