Whether you’re a college student, a circus performer, or a business administrator, you’ve experienced stress. No matter who we are or what we do, the worries in our thoughts and the demands of our lives can take a toll. Although we undoubtedly have our own unique reactions to stress, most of us can benefit from adopting healthier coping strategies. Here are some simple tips that anyone can practice and benefit from, regardless of our differences.
- Practice Healthy Lifestyle Habits. It is probably a given that everyone should have healthy habits such as eating right, avoiding harmful toxins, getting regular exercise, and sleeping well. However, all of this is easier said than done. Add to that the time constraints and stressors from your own individualized set of problems, and it becomes even more daunting to incorporate healthy habits into daily living. But consider these effects: a night of restful sleep can make all the difference between a student who remembers what she studies and one who doesn’t. Come the time for tests and exams, a student who has had a proper sleep pattern is more likely to recall information and to be able to problem solve better than someone who has impaired cognitive abilities due to sleep deprivation. Similarly, a healthy diet and exercise regimen determines how well your body is able to handle stress. So if changing your diet and health habits seems like a huge challenge, think of the costs of continuing unhealthy habits. Try to pick at least one healthy lifestyle change (cutting down on sugar, for example) and work on sticking to it.
- Connect With Others. Social connections and interactions can be a much needed break from the stress of work routines. A quick chat with friends or colleagues can be a healthy distraction that helps to enhance your mood in positive ways. Keeping a strong social support system helps to buffer the effects of stress and remind you that there are people you can let loose with. Call a friend or set aside a moment for a colleague and chances are you will feel better and be more able to handle stress.
- Take a Lunch Break. In theory, it can be tempting to work through your lunch to increase your productivity. However, stepping away from your desk can help to recharge your batteries and make it easier to work productively after the break. Moving away from work for a lunch break will give you a change of scenery and help you to take a refreshed approach to the tasks at hand. Rest and relaxation are important components of the daily routine.
- Be More Assertive. Doing and agreeing to things that you don’t want to do contribute to your overall stress level since it affects how dissatisfied and unhappy you are. Sometimes saying ‘no’ may not be an option because of practical reasons or your own personality style. Nevertheless, taking on more than you can or want to deal with will have more of a negative impact than the discomfort you’ll feel by saying ‘no’. If you feel that some things just can’t be declined with a simple ‘no’, find the small victories that will help to make the task easier to cope with. For example, if you get a phone call from a particularly chatty relative and just can’t spare the time, make a compromise with the caller. Agree to call him back at another time or let him know that you only have five minutes to talk before you have to be somewhere else.