With the pace of today’s world, there are few people who live without experiencing some form of negative stress. There are a number of areas in life that can take a toll on our bodies and minds, namely work, school, relationships, and other obligations. Most of us make efforts to relieve some stress from time to time, whether it be in the form of a long shower or some uplifting music, but too rarely do we take a step back to assess what part of life our stress is coming from. We always have a general idea of where the stress comes from, sure, but we don’t think about the changes we can make that might prevent or lessen stress stemming from these areas. In honor of April being National Stress Awareness Month, take the time to reflect on how you can decrease your stress instead of just trying to deal with it.
Set limits for yourself. We always say that there isn’t enough time in the day. Yet in reality, there is. We are simply trying to do too much. Try to review your daily agenda for the upcoming week, and reevaluate your expectations for yourself. Acknowledge the difference between how much you would like to do and how much you can do. This exercise will require you to reassess your standards and priorities, enabling you to realize what matters most to you.
Address conflicts. Be it a conflict at work or in a relationship, don’t let it plague the back of your mind anymore. Be proactive about resolving issues with people, especially if you find that these issues distract you from the current moment or task at hand. Long-standing conflicts can prolong stress that is ultimately unnecessary. The process of addressing conflicts might call for you to be assertive and/or willing to compromise, so keep in mind your end goal when resolving the issue.
Don’t deprive yourself. There are things we want to do but feel guilty doing since they take time away from other obligations. Keep in mind, however, that you have an obligation to yourself. There is always time to do something that you enjoy, that makes you happy, and that satisfies your personal needs in a way that other mundane activities cannot. Start by picking a hobby you’ve always wanted to try or expand upon, and set aside time each week for it.
Take this month to think differently about your stress. Stress is a natural part of life, sure, but that’s no excuse for letting it run down your body and mental functions. Recognize the difference between coping with and managing stress. The latter proves to be a much healthier way of living.