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How to Deal with Stress In, and Outside of Work

Stress is something everyone faces but not everyone is efficient in coping with it. Here are a few tips that may help.

If you are trying to meet a very tight deadline, become a top performer or gain the new position of your dreams, it can happen that one day, you find yourself burnt out and depressed because you have lost your energy along the way. And the worst thing is, that in a situation like that you don’t have the available power to change anything. The point is, it all starts with stress being accumulated and snowballing to result in what could become a serious disorder.

Of course, the best way to avoid such troubles is by detecting the first signs of stress and eliminating it. This requires paying attention to your physical and emotional state and a certain degree of self-discipline and awareness, but it will reward you with better health and, in the end, a higher quality of life.

I’m trying not to be trivial, but the main factors of good health remain the same – good sleep, healthy food, and some workout. And let’s face it – we are personally responsible for our habits and what our life looks like.

How to Deal with Stress

5 Ideas for Reducing Stress

The chance of stress overtaking you is low if you:

  1. Stick to the daily routine and have a good sleep Sleep for at least eight hours and don’t go to bed too late, because sleep deprivation is proven to cause irritability, worsened attention and memory, a weakened immune system and other daunting effects. Remember, one long sleep on Sunday won’t catch up your lack of sleep accumulated during the week.
  2. Set and maintain borders between your work and leisure – I know how easy it is to get overwhelmed with work and stay long hours when you enjoy your job and have an inspiring goal. But this is when you can drop your guard and fall into the grind of constant stress. Do your best to maintain a discipline of finishing the work at a settled time and leaving all your work matters there. You can go to a gym or a swimming pool, have a walk after a saturated working day or spend time with friends or family. The latter is especially important, as recent studies show that, in a lifetime perspective, relationships turn out to be the #1 factor for happiness.
  3. Do what you love – Considering life is a set of areas in which to invest your time and effort, it’s too risky to dedicate the whole of you to your work, just like it is too risky put all the eggs in one basket in case you drop them. Even when you adore your work, one day something can go wrong with it, and then you may feel like you’ve lost everything. So find the time for other activities that bring you excitement and pleasure. Apart from becoming your source of energy, they will serve as a buffer if and when you have those tough times at work.
  4. Workout – Physical exercise is a proven way to manage stress, because it induces the production of feel-good endorphins, helps us to keep fit, and can prevent us from developing professional ailments that can come with a desk job like ours. Among the best activities to help eliminate stress are jogging, swimming, biking, walking, and yoga. Find the one that suits you the most and brings you joy and pleasure. This should be fun, not another binding activity.
  5. Do some cleaning-up – Some people find it calming to do the housework, others just notice that a clean place gives them a clear mind. Perhaps reorganize your clothes in a wardrobe, or clear the snow at your house door. Small achievements like that can give you the energy for bigger challenges.

Other Stress Relieving Suggestions

Among other methods of handling stress that I can name are turning on your favorite music and having a relaxing bath with essential oils such as ylang-ylang, bergamot, myrrh or any other oil that has a pleasant scent. Having a relaxing massage is another activity that will bring you a good sleep and a better overall state. And of course, spending time outdoors is a great way to recover your energy.

If you are looking for immediate ways to relieve stress, consider foods and drinks drinks such as oatmeal and dark chocolate, or sedative herbs such as Melissa (lemon balm), passionflower or lavender. But be careful, as some of them can have the opposite effect in a long-term perspective. For instance, caffeine contained in dark chocolate and coffee in significant amounts is itself a known stress-causing factor.

To conclude, let me share an easy practice you can use in your daily life.

Breathing practices are one of the best ways to handle stress or its consequences. If you are familiar with them, you can pick any that helps you best but I offer the easiest one.
Whenever you feel stressed, pay your attention to your breath at that very moment. Don’t try to do anything with it, just observe.
How long does it take you to inhale? Exhale?
Is there any pause before or after each inhale? How long is it?
Keep watching and observe the rhythm.
After a minute or two, you may feel the calming effect. And if you like it, try practicing it regularly, and you’ll be surprised by the results.

I hope this post helps you feel less stressed and more ready to enjoy once more a full and exciting life.

Author

Alona Benko

Experienced in manual testing and team leading. Apart from QA, her interests lie in the fields of management and psychology.