Entrepreneurs

3 Stress Management Techniques That Can Make Your Life Better

Society has a stress problem, and it’s only been compounded by the pandemic. American Psychological Association research shows 67% of people are more stressed now than before. And before, they weren’t exactly relaxed.

Stress isn’t a new or uncommon phenomenon, of course. It’s a part of life. Still, overwhelming stress levels can cause mental health to deteriorate and even lead to work burnout. That’s not good for business, and it’s not good for families or communities.

Advice on how to manage stress isn’t hard to find, of course. It’s all over the Internet. Yet it tends to repeat the same mantras that don’t always work for Type-A, hard-driving professionals. Plus, some stress management techniques aren’t feasible in certain instances, such as quitting a job or immediately downsizing. Yes, those tactics can work in the long-term. But they take time to put into place.

If you’ve been searching high and low for novel techniques to temper your stress levels quickly, try these ideas. They’ll give you fresh insights into ways to get a leg up on stress.

1. Look for symptoms of symptoms.

Most people know some of the broader symptoms that can point to potential depression. Yet not all signs present themselves in a direct way. This is especially true of go-getters.

Bob Goldwater, founder of The Birth Injury Lawyer Group, frequently looks for secondary indicators of employee stress. As he explains, “High-performing workers frequently don’t want to admit that they are feeling stress or that they are nearing a breaking point.” Consequently, they may hide skyrocketing mental health problems. But stress tends to pop up in other ways.

For example, stress can cause some people to hyper-concentrate on one project or situation. This leads to an inability to properly prioritize assignments, which may result in missed deadlines or shoddy output. Similarly, managers and team leaders under inordinate stress can find even simple decision-making challenging.

Remember that when you’re looking for stress, you can’t always judge by how you act. Instead, look for the ways you react. That way, you can pinpoint mounting stress and take action.

2. Track your stress levels on a day to day basis.

You know you’re under stress. Do you know how you’d explain the stress to a friend or therapist? A good way of handling stress is to understand how it’s affecting you daily—or even hourly. Start by creating a stress journal that features a likert scale of low to high stress.

For instance, write down your current stress level for every entry. Use a one to 10 rating, with 10 being the highest stress you’ve ever felt. Then, jot down the emotions that you’re feeling. Sad. Hurt. Bewildered. Blindsided. You may also want to note everything contributing to those emotions, such as a berating client. Seeing everything on paper can make you feel more in charge of your emotions. 

Within a few days or weeks, you may see patterns emerge. Having a visible way to monitor your stress responses can give you insights and assist you in making behavioral changes. Perhaps your stress levels seem to spike on Sundays and Thursdays. Maybe your stress levels stay consistently high throughout the week, and then plummet abruptly on Fridays.

Find possible correlations to your stress spikes. By assessing stress peaks and valleys, you can better anticipate—and defuse—predictable stressors.

3. Add “no” into your vocabulary.

Your boss wants a project, pronto. Your sister-in-law asks you to go out for dinner when you have a million things to do. The charity you volunteer with requests that you become a board member for the next year. It can be tough to say no. Nevertheless, “no” may be the right thing to do for you and everyone else.

As the Cleveland Clinic points out on a piece related to stress, you can’t go at 100 miles an hour forever. And you aren’t beholden to living up to others’ expectations or wants. The more you absorb duties that are best passed by, the more intense your stress level will become.

Saying no can be hard, especially if you’re someone who is known for being a “team player.” Still, you can’t be a part of the team if you’re at risk of burning out. That’s not fair for anyone, including you.

As a side note, you may want to talk with your manager or boss about stewarding your personal time. That’s not always an easy conversation to initiate, but being upfront about your intentions lets others know what to expect. It can also alert them to your need to de-stress. 

Taking care of your mental health is a full-time job that’s as critical as your career. Nurture yourself by experimenting with a variety of stress management strategies. When you find one that works, stick with it for maximum results. Relief rarely comes overnight, but rest assured that it’s achievable.

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