10 Tips to Help Overcome Stress Once and For All
Are you stressed out in life? How do you handle stress and pressure? Learning how to handle stress and pressure can help you transform your life into one that you love.
I think we're all feeling a little stressed out this year in the midst of the pandemic. But let's not forget that many of us were already stressed out before this current situation hit. It just elevated it a lot.
So, let's talk about stress on a deeper level. Obviously, a worldwide pandemic in the midst of an election year in America is going to cause everyone to feel a new level of stress and pressure.
But “normal” life can leave us feeling stressed out all on its own.
Think about it for a minute.
- The bills are rolling in faster than the money is hitting the bank.
- You really want to find the right person, but the thought of meeting new people just seems like too much to handle.
- That promotion at work seemed like a good idea, but now all you do is work and imposter syndrome hits you daily.
- You want to move to a new city, but you worry about what others will think of such a big move.
Honestly, you probably don't even need reminders about what could cause you stress. If you're reading this right now, something probably popped into your head instantly.
Maybe a situation that you don't know what to do about. Or maybe it's a relationship that has become a struggle. It could even be stress about not knowing what the future holds.
Stress happens. It's part of life. Don't feel guilty or ashamed if you struggle with it.
Why stress happens
Believe it or not, stress is meant to be a good thing. It's one of the ways that your body tries to protect you. Here's an example:
You're out on a walk one day and you see a lioness who looks like she's hunting you. It's time to act quick. It's not time to sit and think of a plan. You need to spring into action. Your body floods with stress hormones that trigger the fight or flight response.
Your brain knows that you either need to prepare to defend yourself or get the heck out of there fast.
That makes perfect sense, right? But here's the problem. You probably aren't facing life or death, dangerous situations on a regular basis. When you're in a situation like this, stress helps keep you safe. Once your out of danger, your body works to return to normal.
However, when you're experiencing daily stress from work, unhealthy relationships, an overwhelmed schedule, or an anxiety disorder, your body is constantly staying in that stressed out zone. It's not serving the purpose that it was meant to serve. And it can quickly become unhealthy.
Stress management is important!
Because we experience stress from so many different sources and in so many different ways, it's really important to learn how to manage it in a healthy way.
Why stress is bad for you
I probably don't have to tell you that stress affects your health. And it's not just your mental health. You're probably feeling it in your body too.
- You can't sleep at night
- It feels like you're constantly in a fog
- Your muscles are tight
- You have frequent headaches
- You're super irritable, even with people you usually enjoy being with
- Your stomach and/or digestive systems feels like a mess
- It may feel like the tension and pressure is building up throughout your body
Stress can make life just feel too hard.
If you let stress go unchecked in your life it can lead to all kinds of problems. It can cause heart issues, relationship challenges, weight fluctuations, and all kinds of other things you don't want to experience when trying to live your best life.
Living in stress and anxiety can also negatively impact your ability to make decisions.
The more stressed you are, the more you react based on natural instinct. Again, this is good if you come face to face with a wild animal, but not so much in your day to day life.
You want to make decisions based on your knowledge and life experiences. You want to use your full brain power in life, not always act based on instinct.
If stress is a major problem for you, then it's probably playing a big role in how you make decisions. That means if you don't learn how to manage your stress, you're going to struggle to make the changes that you want to in life.
You need to learn to get your stress under control.
Stress management techniques that DON'T work
Dealing with stress isn't easy. And if you try to avoid dealing with it in a healthy way, you probably find yourself dealing with it in a not-so-healthy way.
Can you identify with any of these behaviors?
- Popping open a new bottle of wine and polishing it off day after day
- Binging on Netflix for hours and hours
- Frequent shopping sprees on Amazon or (insert your favorite store name here)
- Looking for love in all the wrong places
- Letting food be your comfort
These are not successful or healthy ways to handle stress. These are known as “escape behaviors”. They may help you feel better for the moment, but it will be short-lived. And you probably feel even more stressed after indulging.
Don't feel guilty. These are normal behaviors that people turn to when fighting stress on a regular basis. Feeling ashamed or guilty about it isn't going to help you.
You don't need to pile on one more thing to stress about.
Instead, turn your focus to learning how to manage stress in a healthy way.
10 stress management techniques that work
Table of Contents
Before you scroll on past this section, hear me out for a second.
I know that “exercise” is mentioned all over the place. I also know that it's an easy trigger for anxiety, guilt and shame.
You know that you're supposed to be exercising. You might even struggle with comparing yourself with that super cute coworker that looks like she spends all her spare time in the gym.
That's not what this is about.
No judgement, shame, or guilt is allowed here. This is simply exercising to help relieve your stress. It can be anything that works for you.
You don't have to follow some crazy, challenging workout regimen. And it's not about losing weight, toning your body or anything like that. This is all about your mental health.
There are TONS of benefits for your mental health from exercising.
Even just going for a simple walk each day can reduce your stress, lower your risk of depression and help your brain release mood boosting chemicals. If you want to read more about the benefits, you can check out this article from BetterHelp: The Top Six Mental Health Benefits of Exercise.
Write it down
Stress and pressure have a way of growing when you try to keep it to yourself. When stress is too much, there's something that can feel liberating about putting it into words and getting it out of your head.
It's easy to let anxious and stressful thoughts just roll around in your head. When you do this, it's really easy for that stress to grow and the pressure to build.
It's also easy to get stuck in wrong through patterns without even realizing it. You can end up worrying about things that you don't really need to spend time focusing on.
When you put your thoughts into words, it can help you gain perspective. You may see that some of the things you've been stressing about are things that you can let go. There are other things that you may be able to find action steps for once you see it written out instead of floating around in your head.
There are two approaches you can take once you have all your stress written down. You can hit the delete key or rip your paper and get rid of it forever. Or you can keep your stress writing in a journal to reflect on later.
If you're able to keep it written in a journal and look back on it in a way that encourages you in overcoming stress in the future, then I recommend doing that.
But if you find that you keep going back to your journal and reliving your stressful moments and concerns over and over again, get rid of it. That's not serving the purpose of stress management.
Talk to your friends
Isn't there just something about pouring out your heart and all your crazy thoughts to a friend? That person that won't judge what's coming out of your head. The woman that can totally empathize with the stress you're feeling because she's felt it too.
It's the beauty of friendship.
Don't try to carry and handle stress and pressure by yourself.
Get together or call up that friend that you can be completely yourself around and let it all out. She may be able to help you gain new perspective around a stressful situation. Or she may just be a listening ear and shoulder to cry on.
If you don't have any friends that you feel you can really trust, find a support system to connect with.
Don't ever feel alone in your struggles with stress. There are lots of other women who are going through similar situations and struggling with the pressures and stress they face each day as well.
If you're looking for a place to connect, you can join the Lovely Refinement free mental health support group. Not only will you get free eBooks to help you reduce anxiety, but you'll be connected with over 500 women in the Facebook group.
Lower your expectations
As women, we often feel like we're supposed to conquer the world. We have careers to build, social lives to maintain, and we're supposed to always look like we have it all together.
We feel the pressure that we must maintain this picture-perfect life.
Who are we kidding?
Sometimes the stress and pressure that we feel is coming from within. We set unrealistic expectations for ourselves that are impossible to meet.
“Superwoman” might sound like a great title, and you might have loved the Wonder Woman movie, but here's the thing—it's not real!
There's only so much that one person can take on and successfully handle in any given day. If you're spending your time trying to be “perfect”, you're probably going to start feeling stressed out. That's normal.
Don't be afraid to lower the bar and be realistic about what you can handle right now.
There are different times in life when you can take on more than others. This may be one of those times that you need to lower your expectations for yourself.
And here's the kicker—DON'T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT DOING IT! It's perfectly acceptable and OK. Don't let anyone make you feel that it's not.
Take a look at your calendar & get organized
When learning how to handle stress, it may help to take a look at your schedule. Did Superwoman show up one day when you weren't paying attention and overbook your calendar? It may be time to start cutting some things out.
Sit down and make a list of everything that you have on your plate at the moment. Then, prioritize your list. What things can you cut out? Can you delegate anything? Are there things that can be moved to the back burner to tackle when you aren't under so much stress?
Once you have a list of the things that you really need to do—the things that need your attention—you can start to see where to focus your attention.
There are a few different ways that you can move forward from here. You can choose to work on the most important things first until you get them done. Or you could choose to work on the things that are fastest to finish so you can cross them off your list.
Do what works best for you.
Find something to laugh about
Laughter really is the best medicine and it helps with handling stress too.
There's a lot of science behind how this works, but the basic information is that your laughter triggers your brain to release endorphins that make you feel good. They even help reduce the amount of pain that you feel.
So, when you feel the pressure coming on and the stress is building in your life, find something that makes you laugh.
Watch a funny YouTube video. Call up your hilarious friend. Have Alexa tell you a few jokes. Or stream your favorite comedian's latest show.
And if you can, combine this with #3 and get together and laugh with your friends. Allow yourself to have fun and be distracted from the latest and greatest stress in your life, even if it's just for a few minutes.
Create some simple wins in your life
When you're under a lot of stress, it may feel like you can't seem to succeed at anything. You may notice that as your anxiety builds, your confidence starts to decline. This can cause you to feel even more pressure in life.
You can fight this by creating and tracking small successes in your day. This may also involve you changing the way that you think about success.
Success doesn't have to be big in order for you to celebrate it.
If you're under stress and pressure or dealing with anxiety and depression, even the little things in your day can feel overwhelming. Many people struggling with their mental health challenges like anxiety also struggle to do things like clean up the house, get the bills paid on time, and cook dinner.
If you're doing these things, count them as successes.
Every evening, write down at least three things that you succeeded at doing during the day. Keep a running list. As you see the list grow of things that you have accomplished (even those small things), you'll probably notice your attention start to shift from your stress to your success. And your confidence will begin to grow.
Think about what you're thankful for
I know there are just times in life when it doesn't seem like there's anything to be thankful for. When the stress becomes too much, it can start to consume your thoughts and your life. But you have the power to control your thoughts.
That's right! You don't have to spend time thinking about things that leave you stressed out and overwhelmed.
Yes, there are times when you may need to think about something that causes you stress. But it doesn't have to be all that you think about.
If you're not used to controlling what you think about, it may feel super challenging when you get started. The trick is to find something positive that you can think about instead of just trying not to think about the stressful thing.
This is where gratitude enters the picture.
No matter how bad your situation seems, there's something you can be grateful for. It may be that you have a best friend to confide it. Or that you're able to walk and talk. You may be thankful that you have a job that pays the bills or that you had a clean pair of pants to put on this morning.
Spend time each day making a list of things that you're grateful for. Think of a few things in the morning before your feet hit the floor. Then, do it again before you fall asleep at night.
Play out the stress in your head
I know this is going to sound weird, but I have talked with multiple women who find this strategy really helpful when they're feeling stressed out about a situation.
Think about whatever the situation is that you're worried about. Then, ask yourself, “What's the worst thing that could happen?”. Once you answer it, ask yourself, “Then, what would I do?”.
This forces you to play out step by step the situation that you've been allowing to cause you stress.
Some women find that when they do this it helps to remove some of the anxiety they have over the situation. You may realize that the worst-case scenario isn't as bad as they thought. Or you may realize that you're stronger than you thought and even if the worst-case scenario happens, you'll still be OK.
Don't be afraid to get help
There is no shame in talking to a therapist. There's a stigma around mental health that stops people from getting the help they need.
Don't let that be an obstacle for you!
And don't fall for the myth that you need to have some kind of serious mental health disorder to see a therapist. A licensed therapist can help you with things like:
- Learning how to handle everyday stress
- Setting priorities
- Finding time management skills that help you regain control of your life
- Identifying where stress and anxiety is stemming from
- Improving stressful relationships with others in your life
- Learning how to gain control of your thoughts
- Overcoming negative thought patterns
It can even help to talk to a therapist if you aren't sure what the problem is in your life, but you just feel like something's off.
If you're struggling, you don't have to go through it alone. You can even do virtual therapy to make it easier on yourself.
How do you handle stress and pressure?
There are stressful situations that are going to come up from time to time. There are things that will happen that are outside of your control. Everyone handle's stress in their own way.
You wouldn't be human if you didn't feel and experience stress and pressure in life. But you don't have to let it get the best of you.
Try the tips above and start finding what works for you. And, check out the Anxiety Action Plan + Workbook available in the shop for just $19. You'll learn an 8-step plan to reduce your anxiety once and for all.
Let's make this the day that you decide to overcome stress instead of letting it control you!