The New Year brings a lot of opportunity to start new goals and work on yourself for a better year. But it also brings stress associated with obtaining those goals and other beginning of the year stressors. Curb your stress with the following general stress reduction tips.
- Step Back and Put the Problem in Perspective
Maybe you’re disappointed that you didn’t get a promotion you were up for or concerned that money is a little tight this month because of an unexpected medical bill. Feeling stressed is a natural reaction. But try to take a step back and ask yourself: Will this issue still matter in a year? In five years? If the answer is no, take a deep breath and try to move forward. Keeping things in perspective is crucial to managing stress.
- List Some Solutions and Come Up With a Plan
If there’s a specific problem you need to fix, make a list of all possible solutions and pick the best one for your situation. Realizing that you have options and coming up with a concrete plan will have a direct effect on stress reduction. “Break the task into smaller parts so you can try to accomplish what you need to in an hour, a day and then next week so the problem becomes more manageable,” suggests Kubiak.
- Accept Those Things Beyond Your Control
Some circumstances are simply beyond our control, and we have to learn to cope with and accept them. Fortunately, you do have control over how you react to stressful situations. Staying calm and being willing to accept emotional support from others can help in managing stress.
- Give Yourself a Break to Relax and Recharge
Daily stressors can creep up on you before you realize it, so treat yourself to at least one relaxing activity every day. Listening to music, meditating, writing in a journal, or enjoying a soothing bubble bath are all great ways to relax and relieve stress. “Meditation allows us to clear our minds and be able to see things in a more realistic perspective,” notes Kubiak. Taking time for yourself is important for both preventing and managing stress.
- Try to Get Some Regular Exercise Every Day
Exercise is one of the best methods for managing stress because it can relieve both the physical and emotional effects of stress. Consider fitness choices that also deliver specific stress-reducing effects like yoga, tai chi, Pilates, or one of the martial arts, all great ways to get rid of pent-up stress and negativity. “Exercise can help regulate and dissipate in a productive way those ‘fight or flight’ stress chemicals in the brain,” says Kubiak.
- Open Up to People and Express Your Feelings
If something’s bothering you, don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to people you trust, like friends, family, or coworkers, about what’s on your mind. Even if you’re not looking for specific advice, it usually feels good just to get your feelings out into the open.
- Set Reasonable Expectations in Your Daily Life
Being busy is sometimes inevitable, but regularly taking on more than you can manage can cause unwanted and unwelcome stress. Tell yourself that it’s okay to say no to activities at your child’s school or to extra projects at work — you are not obligated to accept every request made of you. Additionally, don’t take on more financial responsibilities — such as a new car or a bigger house — if you think they’ll be a stretch. Being realistic about your finances is an important strategy for managing stress.
- Resolve Issues Before They Become Crises
It’s human nature to avoid unpleasant topics and circumstances, but if you’re concerned about a brewing situation, whether it’s at work or at home, address it early to keep it from becoming more serious, harder to solve, and more stressful for you. Problems are always easier to handle before they develop into full-blown calamities.
Everyone feels stress — it’s impossible to avoid it all the time. But it is possible to keep stress under control by setting realistic expectations of yourself, learning how to keep problems in perspective, and enjoying relaxing breaks from the daily demands of life.