Are you stressed out? If so, then you are probably not performing to the best of your ability. Stress can definitely have a negative impact on our lives. Of course, a certain amount of positive stress can push us to perform better, but too much negative stress can lead to burnout. Generally, stress makes us tired, cranky, and decreases our confidence which erodes our overall effectiveness.
I struggle with managing my stress. I have for years and I have experienced most of the signs of stress at one time or another. As a result, I have sought out numerous ways to dissipate my stress and thereby improve my effectiveness. I thought I’d share a few of those with you today. Here are 10 things that I do to beat stress:
- Exercise regularly. The many benefits of cardiovascular exercise are well documented and I’m sure you’re as familiar with them as am I, but honestly I don’t know if I would stick with it and exercise regularly if it weren’t for the way it relieves my stress. For me, there is nothing more effective at dissipating tension than about a 30 minute cardio workout. I prefer the exercise bike because I like to read while I ride. This way I can exercise my mind and body at the same time.
- Get plenty of sleep. If I’m tired, then it compounds the stress I accumulate throughout the day. I strive to get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Of course, it doesn’t always work out for me, but the benefits of a good night’s sleep are worth it.
- Give up or lessen caffeine intake. I know this is radical, but please do not stop reading. Caffeine is, of course, a stimulant. I find that the more caffeine I ingest, the more stimulated I become which leads to more stress. I seem particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine and how it can contribute to stress so I try to stay away from it as much as possible. There are other ways to get yourself going rather than using caffeine.
- Forgive quickly. When we hold a grudge or continue a dispute, it builds stress in our lives. If we forgive and forget the perceived offenses, then we will lower our stress and live happier, healthier lives. I know it can be hard to forgive some things. However, when we hold on to our grudges, we do more damage to ourselves than to the other person.
- Eliminate debt. Money is a source of stress for many of us. Of course, it is the poor way we manage our money that really creates the stress. I have found that by living a debt-free life, I have eliminated a major source of stress.
- Get outdoors. I find that spending time in nature camping, backpacking, and hiking are great ways to eliminate stress. I enjoy the beauty of nature. It gets my mind off of the things that stress me out. I also find the sun, wind, and sounds of nature soothing.
- Spend time alone. For me, solitude is an essential element of a healthy lifestyle. I need time alone to think and clear my head. When I’m alone for an hour or two, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
- Meditate. Meditation means a lot of different things to different people. I am merely suggesting that you spend time focusing your thoughts on positive things. You can pray, use positive affirmations, or just think about positive things you have read. By intentionally directing my thoughts, I can lower my stress.
- Avoid Worrying. Worry is definitely a source of stress. This one isn’t a really big one for me, but if you tend to worry about things then it can significantly impact your stress level.
- Take a break. When was the last time you took a day off to relax? The whole concept of vacation and recreation were conceived of for a reason. We have to give our minds and bodies a break occasionally. When we do, we are able to let go of the stress and return with a fresh outlook on life. I try to take short breaks like three-day weekends from time-to-time. I also try to take off at least two full weeks during the year. This gives me time to relieve stress and avoid burnout.
What do you do to manage your stress? It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, but taking proactive steps to beat stress pays off in increased effectiveness and clearer thinking. Leave me a comment with your ideas and suggestions. I am always looking for new ideas on this subject.