Stress Management Tips

Here are a few simple stress management tips to help out in creating balance daily or during busy or difficult times.

  1. Block personal time every single day. Write it into your calendar. This may seem like an impossible notion, but it is an important practice to help you stay on top of your game. Scheduling in time for yourself, whether it’s spent reading, relaxing, watching TV, meditating, or taking a walk is an important part of a daily routine. I recommend giving yourself at least 20 minutes each day to refresh. On the weekend, take a longer block of at least 3-4 hours. During this time, do not give a single thought to work or obligations, but instead allow yourself to become completely absorbed in your activity of choice. Then, when it’s time to work again, you’ll find that you’re more efficient and productive and better able to concentrate.
  2. Eat regular meals. Make sure you get in three meals each and every day, and snacks, too, if you tend to get hungry between meals. Leave your desk, or at the very least, stop working on professional or school-related tasks during mealtime. Like personal time, these breaks for refueling will leave you more efficient and energized for the tasks ahead of you.
  3. Think about what you drink. It is tempting, when stressed, to drink more caffeine to stay up and alert, and more alcohol to unwind at the end of the day. These patterns can interfere with your physiology and can make it more difficult to rest deeply when it is time for bed. Instead, take in more water when you’re stressed and take a few minutes to get some fresh air if you need an energy boost.
  4. Exercise at least three times each week. Regular exercise helps us cope with stress. Cardiovascular activity is especially good for easing anxiety, while weightlifting can be particularly helpful with anger issues.  Yoga helps with soothing, calming, and relaxing and encourages reflection about flexibility and balance. Whatever kind of activity you enjoy, make time for it on a regular basis.
  5. Prioritize and plan ahead. Look at the big picture of your obligations for work or school and think ahead to what will be coming up soon. Taking a few minutes to sit down with your calendar at the beginning of each month and each week can be extremely helpful in focusing your energy. Pencil in sufficient time in advance of each deadline for project completion so that you are not surprised when something comes due. Consider what truly needs to happen in the immediate future versus what might be delayed, and take care of your most pressing tasks first.

Try out these suggestions for three weeks and see if you notice any improvement in your sense of balance and wellbeing.

Dr. Bradley’s posts are not meant as a substitute for regular psychotherapy or mental health services. If you need help with psychological difficulties, contact a psychologist, therapist, or mental health center.