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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 November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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