Simple Solutions to Common Stressors
By Mikkie Mills
Stress seems to be a universal shared experience, and it can be created by a variety of life circumstances. What is stressful to one person might be easily manageable by another, so stress is both subjective and personal. It’s important to be aware of how stress can affect you physically and emotionally so you can make choices that will help you maintain your health and peace of mind. Wondering how to relax in today’s world? Try these four tips...
First and foremost, make sure that you are taking care of yourself. Get enough sleep--this cannot be emphasized enough. Sleep deprivation can cause the mood to fluctuate rapidly and is a major contributing factor in depression, anxiety and burnout. Insomniacs are 10 times more likely to have clinical depression and 17 times more likely to have clinical anxiety than good sleepers. Be sure to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If this is difficult for you, it may help to talk with a therapist or medical provider about your options.
Exercise can also be an effective weapon against stress, and it’s a great mood booster. Healthy eating is another great way to treat yourself right. A balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, appropriate portion control, and adequate hydration can provide a foundation for good physical and emotional health. In addition, avoid excessive drinking and smoking.
Stress in The Workplace
As we all know, there are a variety of ways work can make you want to rip your hair out. Whether it’s bad management, a co-worker conflict, worrying that you’ll be fired or laid off, overly demanding tasks, a depressing office space, or a general lack of support, work can be a massive headache. To help resolve stressful issues at work, speak to your supervisor or human resources manager. When dealing with work-related stress, it’s important to utilize all your resources to help you relax at your job and off the clock as much as possible.
Struggling to create a budget? Finances are a significant source of stress for many individuals and couples. To begin addressing this problem before it gets too big to handle, identify the amount of money you have coming in and figure out how much of that you are spending each month. Organize your expenses by categories such as mortgage, groceries, gas, entertainment, and car maintenance, and total each amount. Remember to subtract your deductions, such as Social Security and taxes, in order to find your net income, which is the number you want to work with when creating a budget.
Once you have recorded your income and spending, make some goals. Get a sense of your spending habits and use that as a guide for planning your budget. Make long-term goals to save for your retirement or your child’s education. Also make short-term goals to reduce spending on things that are not necessary. Perhaps you can drop your cable, start biking to work if you live nearby or using public transportation, change your internet provider, or buy less snacks and treats at the grocery store. Be sure to carefully consider larger purchases, weighing the pros and cons as well as searching for the best deal. Shopping may be good therapy, but if it isn’t carefully managed it can lead to negative long-term consequences.
Set Realistic Goals
Everyone has something they want to change. Maybe you want to perform better at work, get rid of excess belly fat, or learn a new language. Whatever your goals are, thinking about how much work they will involve can be quite stressful. Setting too many goals, or making your goals too difficult, can lead to inaction.
Rather than aspiring to exercise for two hours every day, carrying 18 credit hours in a single college semester, or vowing to never let dirty dishes pile up and ultimately failing to follow through, it is best to keep goals realistic. Doing the laundry once a week versus every other week probably won’t make your house sparkle with cleanliness, but it will make it cleaner. Going for a 30-minute walk daily won’t make you into an Olympic superstar, but it’s certainly better than doing nothing.
When making goals, it’s important to recognize that going from zero to 60 instantly isn’t really possible, no matter how much willpower you may possess. Just like driving a car, it takes time to pick up speed. Slow, steady effort is better in the long run, because it will help you avoid burning out and giving up. If you do something small consistently, over time you will be able to look back at how far you have come and feel proud. As you slowly plug away at your goals, you will find that yesterday’s problems no longer create stress and you will experience greater peace and relaxation in your life along with a satisfying sense of accomplishment.