“Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response to what happens. And response is something we can choose.”
The end of 2017 is quickly approaching which means fun times for the holidays, but also stressful times like taking finals, planning parties, and wrapping up work related year end tasks. This time of year can be hectic and chaotic, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 4 tips that will help you to stress less not only during the holiday season, but throughout the entire year.
Tip #1: Plan Ahead
If you are anything like me, you worry about even the tiniest of things. I have been a worry wart since I was a kid and have always had generally high levels of anxiety. The one thing that has always helped me was to have a plan. The more you can prepare yourself for a stressful time, the better. If I had a big paper to write for school, I would break out what I had to do. For example, I would need to research the topic, compile sources, start a rough draft, edit, and complete the final draft. I’d plan out how long I think it would take me to do each task and then I would write in my planner and create a spreadsheet for what days I need to work on the tasks. Click here to find the same spreadsheet that I used in the final week of my last semester of college. As I finished them, I marked them in gray to show I had completed them. My stress level would go down every time I would mark off that I completed a task and I could visually see that I was getting closer to the end. It held me accountable as well because I knew that if I didn’t do the task for that day, it would push everything else back.
Tip #2: Recognize When You Are Stressed
I used to always tell myself, “don’t be stressed”, “everything will be fine”, “you won’t be stressed”, so I was telling myself that the normal reaction is to not be stressed. When I would become stressed, my mind considered that to be an abnormal reaction, which made me feel even more stressed and nervous. I began to change my thinking earlier this year and started to tell myself, “you will be stressed and that’s OK. It’s a normal reaction.” I made myself believe that it is expected to feel this way and amazingly enough, I actually felt less stressed. The next time you have something that you are nervous for, remind yourself that it is OK to be nervous and stressed. It’s a normal reaction that anyone would have in the situation. Then, observe how you feel when you change your thinking. You will be amazed to find that you actually won’t really be stressed or nervous at all.
“Just because we’re in a stressful situation doesn’t mean that we have to get stressed out. You may be in the storm. The key is, don’t let the storm get in you.”
Tip #3: Eliminate Distractions
When you know you have a big project or deadline to meet, block out your time to eliminate becoming distracted. When I was in school, I would set timers on my phone. For example, if I was working on a paper, I would research the topic for my paper for an hour and once the hour was up, I could go get a snack or go for a walk for 15 minutes and then get back to work. At work when I know I have a deadline to meet, I block out my calendar in my computer so I have less interruptions. This works well because you will not be temped to look at your phone or become distracted because you know that you can take a break once the hour is up. You will find that you will get your task done sooner when you block out time to take a break. Before I started using timers, I would pick up my phone and surf the web for what seemed like just a few minutes, but then I found that I lost focus on the project and it took me longer to finish which made me feel stressed. Next time you have a big project, set timers and plan for a break time so you can stay on topic and get your task done sooner and with less frustrations.
Tip #4: Take Some “Me” Time
Stress puts a lot of strain on the mind and body. It’s important to take some “me” time to recharge, even if it’s just for a mindful cup of tea or coffee. Put away your homework or log off your work email and just relax for 15-30 minutes. You’ll be amazed at how recharged you will feel. Then, after your paper is finished or you meet the deadline on a report at work, plan for a fun day to just relax and enjoy the fact that it is over. This will give you something to look forward to and keep you motivated. It’s also a great way to relieve stress. When you know that you have something to enjoy when the task is finished, it helps you to stay focused, finish the task in a shorter amount of time, and make you feel less stressed about it.
These 4 tips have helped me through very stressful events in my life and I hope that you will implement some of these activities into your life. Let me know in the comments if you have tried any of these or if you have any tips that you use to stress less.
I also posted a new video to my YouTube channel on how to achieve your goals. Check it out if you are interested and subscribe to get notifications every Wednesday when I upload a new video. Subscribe to my blog as well to get notifications on when I post a new blog every Saturday.
Thanks everyone and I hope you have a great stress-free day!