Not all stress is bad — stress can work as a good motivator to get things done. But when there is too much of it, stress could lead to increased risks of health problems, including heart disease, obesity, asthma, gastrointestinal problems and even premature death.
Though there may be many methods of reducing stress — exercising, eating well, sufficient rest, meditation, massage, aromatherapy, laughter, counselling — here are the 5 basic but often-forgotten ways to manage stress:
- Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize
List out all your tasks to be completed, rank them in order of importance and work on one issue at a time. Remember to put aside all other distractions and ‘be in the present’ with the task at hand to avoid the sense of being overwhelmed by all the other things you need to do. Bonus tip: Knowing how and when to say ‘NO’ will help you to avoid biting off more than you can chew.
- Increase your self-awareness
Take note of what is causing you to feel stressed out. By knowing the root of the problem, you can take control of how you can respond to the issue. For instance, if you simply do not have the skill-set for completing a task, you may end up spending hours agonizing over it and wasting time that you could have used more efficiently to clear up other work. I once researched how to fix a code on a website for over 2 hours when I could have asked a colleague for help earlier, who managed to do it in 5 minutes.
- Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today (in fact, right now!)
During my first job, I used to delay starting my assignments till the last minute. This resulted in a ‘snowball effect’ where all my work would pile up, making me seem disorganized and unreliable to my co-workers, especially since they had to review my work before they were sent off to our clients. Worst of all, my procrastination caused me to make many minor but silly mistakes which affected the quality of my projects. Over time, I learnt that to prevent my workload from spiralling out of hand was to start tackling the problem immediately when I was given a task.
- Always keep the big picture in mind
As the saying goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff!” Accept that things will change along the way despite months of planning and preparation. If you can be flexible about things that don’t go your way and not be affected by the less important aspects of your project, you will have less mental clutter to make better decisions with a clearer mind. Bonus tip: Add the item you would have liked to improve to your ‘After Action Review’ of your event or project to be better prepared in the future.
- Talk to someone you can trust
Simply sharing your problems with a close friend or family member can help relieve some of your burdens. Staying connected to another person not only gives you a sense of belonging but also helps to remind yourself of why you are working so hard in the first place. Getting a hug from them won’t hurt either!
These are just some of the basic guidelines which are applicable to most of us — of course, only you will know what works best for you.
Still unsure about how to apply these 5 principles to stress management? Find a life coach today at www.liveyourmark.com