Bills piling up, deadlines past, spousal conflicts, a mile-long chore list, and it’s only Monday. Today’s workforce is more than just the stress of working more hours for less pay; it’s trying to balance out the workload with your home life, and making sure you’re on top of both.
But stress does more than just make us unhappy – it impacts our health. Critical care tests can show how much your stress levels are affecting your life, but any amount can be bad for you. There are a lot of ways to try to manage your stress, but here are a few many have proven to work.
Remember to Smile
Smiling is more than just a physical symbol of being happy – stretching out those muscles can actually make you feel happy. The muscles used for making a smile communicate with the limbic system, which is an emotional center in the brain. The muscles are telling that system that you’re happy, so your brain starts to feel better as a result.
Meditation isn’t just for monks – it’s a great way to center yourself and achieve relaxation. There are endless ways to try it out, but if you’ve never meditated before, keep it simple. Try sitting in a quiet area, and let all the thoughts of stress slip out of your mind. If you need focus, start imagining trees with roots that dig into the ground, or envision crashing waves in the ocean. Imagine something in nature that makes you feel calm, and focus on it until the stress fades away.
Create a Calendar
If deadlines have you boggled down, creating a calendar can really help out. A calendar can serve as a visual aid of what you need to get done, from birthdays to work deadlines. Instead of stressing out that you have so much to do, schedule out when to do or have all your tasks completed by. Then, make sure to do small things leading up to the deadline. This will be an easier way to track your progress and also keep in check what actually needs to be done.
This is a lot like the calendar plan, but for things that don’t have deadlines. If the things you need to be done aren’t on a schedule, make lists of what needs to be done. On the list, detail each task that needs to be completed, and in order of importance. Once the list is done, start crossing things out as you complete them. The feeling of taking something off your list can relieve a lot of stress, and feel more gratifying than just finishing something.
Admit When You’re Stressed
This might be the most important part of handling stress: owning up to it. If you start to feel anxious and overwhelmed, it’s time to admit that you’re stressed out. Once you admit it, you can take some of the steps, or take a step back. Realizing your own limits and needs is the best step toward becoming happier in your life.
If these tips don’t help, it may be time to take the critical care test to establish how much this is affecting your health. Once you know your levels, you may get tips from your doctor, or even consider stress management therapy. Remember, your mental health is connected to your physical health, and both need attention and time.