From fighting traffic on the way to work to dealing with the constant beeping of smartphones, daily life has become increasingly hectic in recent years. These practical tips will help you get a handle on your stress levels before they take a toll on your health and happiness.
1. Make a list
If you're feeling overwhelmed by your workload or other tasks you need to accomplish, take a few minutes to write them down in order of priority. You'll probably find that your to-do list isn't as daunting once it's broken down into more manageable pieces.
2. Use the Pomodoro technique
Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late '80s, this time-management technique breaks work down into 25-minute intervals followed by a five-minute break. It's said to improve productivity and mental agility. You can find a free online Pomodoro timer at online-stopwatch.com/pomodoro-timer.
When we're anxious we take small, shallow breaths that eliminate too much carbon dioxide from our bodies and can increase stress, according to the Better Health Channel, published by government of Victoria (Australia). Focus on taking slow, even, deep breaths, which will soothe your autonomic nervous system and increase feelings of calm and wellbeing.
4. Eat well
Eat small, healthy meals every few hours to maintain steady blood-sugar levels and stabilise mood. There are also several vitamins and nutrients that can help combat stress, such as omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish, magnesium in spinach, vitamin C in oranges and folic acid in broccoli.
Not only does regular exercise reduce your risk of several illnesses and increase your lifespan, it also helps control stress. Even if it's just a 15-minute run before work or a brisk walk at lunch, the positive effects on your mood will make it well worth the time investment.
6. Eliminate bad habits
When you're feeling stressed, you might have a tendency to indulge in bad habits like drinking too much, smoking, eating fast food and not getting enough sleep. Although it's easy to fall into this negative cycle, it will only increase your stress levels.
7. Talk it out
A major British survey conducted in 2007 found that only 22 percent of respondents talked to a friend or family member when they felt stressed. According to the researchers, this is a disturbing trend as talking about your worries is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress and anxiety.
8. Reward yourself
When you've crossed a major task off your to-do list, take the time to acknowledge your accomplishment and reward yourself periodically with whatever makes you happy – whether it's a new shirt or a nice meal.
9. Pursue your passions
Find an activity or hobby that you truly enjoy and set aside some time for it each week. It doesn't matter whether it's hiking, cooking, knitting or photography, as long as it makes you feel calm and relaxed while you're doing it.
10. Take holidays
Step away from your desk slowly with your hands up and make your way to the airport or to your car for a weekend road trip. Getting away from the source of your stress even for just a couple of days will do wonders for your mindset. You'll come back refreshed and ready to attack the next challenge.