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Published on October 17, 2018

How to Cope with Stress When You’re Overwhelmed by Responsibilities

How to Cope with Stress When You’re Overwhelmed by Responsibilities

Between excelling at work, juggling domestic duties and managing relationships – life can get extremely stressful. Whether you are struggling with projects at work or a single mother balancing home and work, there is no denying that responsibilities and expectations are weighing you down, leaving you stressed.

Think about it – when did life stop being fun and exciting, when did it turn into a relentless race that just leaves you exhausted and whatever you do just does not seem to be enough? It is natural to get so engrossed in our daily duties that we don’t realize when we succumb to existential chaos and take our health for granted.

Understand that there will be things that won’t be in your control, what can be controlled are your thoughts, and you must know that nothing in this world is worth stressing over. If you are someone who cannot stop worrying and are always anxious – it’s time to shift focus and work on improving your mental health.

Here are 14 practical ways on how to cope with stress and not let it take over your life:

1. Stay Organized

It’s a typical day for you, nothing short of a marathon wherein you are buried under work. And before you know it, the day is over, you go to bed tired and the next morning, the entire drill starts all over again. If this resonates with you, it helps to get organized and keep a to-do list.

Whether it’s jotting tasks down on your phone or keeping a notebook – it helps to give yourself tasks for the day, prioritize well and tick them off as you complete them. Sometimes, when our thoughts are all over the place, just seeing them written down is a great start too.

Having a to-do list helps you keep track and maintain realistic goals for yourself. Take life one day at a time and you are sure to cope with stress better.

2. Overcome Perfectionism

You need everything to be perfect and won’t settle for anything less? While this is great for your ‘image’ and gets you appreciation, do you realize that it is hugely self-destructive as well?

Perfectionism leads to high levels of stress. In your quest for flawlessness, you end up obsessing over the smallest slip-ups which leaves you frustrated and unhappy. Get this — no one is perfect so stop trying to get there.

Focus on doing your best, quit being overly self-critical and learn from your mistakes. Free yourself from the unrealistic standards you set for yourself and you will be surprised to see how liberating that feels.

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3. Resolve Conflicts

A lot of times stress arises due to conflicts with a co-worker, friend or partner. The best way to cope with stress of this kind is to confront the person in question and resolve the conflict by effective communication.

Many people make the mistake of running away from confrontation and live with the tension which just leads to the build-up of stress. So, the next time you get into a heated argument with your partner or are facing issues with your manager – make it a point to talk things out and resolve it instead of harboring negative emotions.

4. Delegate Smartly

You are not superman or superwoman – you cannot possibly try to do everything and be everywhere. What you should do when you have a lot on your plate is delegate effectively to save yourself from undue stress.

Delegation is a skill – you need to assess the task, choose the right person for the job, set expectations and follow up after.

You might put it off thinking it is a lot of work or you may be more comfortable micro-managing but there is only so much you can do in a day so why not get someone else on-board and make life easier?

5. Learn to Say No

Everyone wants to be liked and please people, but what happens when your inability to say no adds to your stress?

Whether it’s your boss bombarding you with unreasonable work or your child’s school committee asking you to volunteer in an event – it is okay to say no if you are grappling with too much.

Saying no does not make you a bad worker, parent or friend. It ensures you spend your time doing what is important and urgent instead of making commitments you would regret later.

Leo Babauta has some unique advice on the gentle art of saying no.

6. Avoid Procrastinating

How many times have you put work off till you couldn’t anymore and suffered a mini panic attack in the end?

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Procrastination isn’t healthy and leads to stress that can clearly be avoided in the first place. When you have immense work, break it down into smaller tasks, set timelines and get done with it.

Eliminate distractions, take breaks if required and reward yourself for motivation but avoid getting stuck in the vicious cycle of procrastinating.

Lifehack’s CEO has created a guide on beating procrastination:

What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

7. Enjoy ‘Me’ Time

When was the last time you treated yourself to a relaxing spa or went shopping with your friends?

Yes, you have responsibilities and lots to achieve in life but sometimes, all you need to do is sit back, relax and live in the moment.

However busy you are, make it a point to take some time out for yourself. Do things that relieve you off the stress – it can be something as simple as reading a book or listening to soothing music at the end of a busy day.

Rejuvenation is important as it helps clear your mind and promotes healthy living. So, pamper yourself silly once in a while because you deserve it.

8. Eat Healthy

Everyone reacts to stress differently – while some end up binging, there are others who lose their appetite instead. Either way, these extreme reactions to stress are extremely unhealthy.

One of the best ways to cope with stress is to just eat healthy. Have a balanced diet and include food items that are likely to combat stress levels.

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Instead of turning to aerated drinks, pizzas and cheesecakes thinking they will make you feel better, opt for healthier comfort food options such as dark chocolate, oatmeal or a healthy salmon burger to de-stress.

9. Get Enough Sleep

We often take our sleep for granted without realizing that being well-rested and getting a good night’s sleep can do wonders to our productivity and mood.

Getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night is vital. But what do you do when you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, thanks to your anxieties and busy mind?

Practice relaxing techniques such as reading a book or taking long deep breaths before bedtime and try going to bed at the same time every night. These small changes can help you get a good night’s sleep, so you can wake up refreshed.

10. Meditate Regularly

Meditation is all about focusing on the present moment and embracing a calm, peaceful state of mind. This relaxation technique lets you shift focus from your worries and anxieties and attain inner peace.

Find a quiet place at home and start by devoting 15-20 minutes of your day to meditation. With regular practice, you are bound to see a transformation in your concentration levels and the way you approach life, in general.

You may want to try this 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime.

11. Indulge in a Hobby

We all had hobbies growing up but very of us are still in touch with those hobbies today. One of the reasons you remain so stressed might be because you are so stuck in the drudgery of everyday life, that you hardly make time for things that make your happy.

It’s time to get out of the rut and MAKE time for your hobbies. Indulging in hobbies is a great stress buster and gives you the much-needed respite that can boost your mental health.

So, discover what you enjoy doing and incorporate it in your schedule.

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12. See a Therapist

If you find yourself going through bouts of stress and anxiety that is making it difficult for you to get through the day, reach out to a therapist.

There is nothing wrong in asking for help when you need it. Instead of getting lost in your cloud of thoughts, talk to therapists who can guide you. They can help you get to the root of the problem, guide you on coping with stress and handling your emotions.

13. Take a Vacation

Vacations are therapeutic. Just a change in environment, seeing a new place and taking a break from work and everyday duties can help you beat stress and de-clutter your thoughts.

It’s a great time for everyone in the family to go to someplace new and spend quality time together. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a vacation abroad – planning family vacations is always a splendid idea.

14. Be Kind to Yourself

Last but not the least, be kind to yourself. In times of overwhelming stress, we are likely to lose our temper on people around us and most importantly, on ourselves.

We rush to beat ourselves over not being able to fulfill expectations; but the truth is that, none of this self-loathing behavior is going to make it any better for you.

You should be patient, practice self-love and comfort yourself such that you can work around your responsibilities in a better, more positive manner.

The Bottom Line

Yes, life can get very stressful at times and your responsibilities just don’t seem to end. But how you wish to deal with it completely depends on your attitude and perspective.

You can either succumb to the stress and let life get out of your hands, or you can take charge of matters and choose to live a happier, healthier life – the choice is yours!

Featured photo credit: AJ Garcia via unsplash.com

More by this author

Adela Belin

Writes about motivation, mental health, personal development and shares stories inspired by her personal journey.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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