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Published on December 31, 2019

7 Tips for Coping with Stress Effectively

7 Tips for Coping with Stress Effectively

Stress can happen to anyone, anywhere at anytime.

It can be mild or intense. It can be short or long lived.

It can lead to panic, sadness or inability to handle things. Or it can be dealt with effectively.

You don’t have to let stress control you. Instead, coping with stress is possible.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James

Stress can either define your life experiences or be something that motivates you. Instead of worrying all the time, use that energy for positive motivation.

Stress can stop you, if you let it. You only need to let life happen and learn to go with the flow in order to cope with stress. Give up the notion of total control because it does not exist.

When stress happens, we are either pushed forward or stopped in our tracks. We either let it help us rise or let it sink us down. The choice between the two are in coping skills.

You can be having a great day and suddenly something happens that lets you down, and suddenly the whole day is ruined. You will rise though, if you learn that stress is a part of life, and that you don’t need to control it. You only need to find a way to cope with it.

Some signs of stress are elevated heart beat, sometimes leading to panic or panic attacks. Sweaty palms, fear rising, catastrophizing the worst will happen, feeling pressure, having a timeline to solve your problem or complete a task… This is how we start to experience stress.

People and circumstances can stress us out. It can be daunting to solve every problem on your plate. But it’s possible to solve some problems effectively with coping skills so you can tackle that to do list. It’s not possible to solve problems WITH stress. In fact, stress can hinder us from success when we let it take over. You need tools to do the job well done. These tools are helpful when dealing with stress to overcome difficult situations.

You only need to learn to cope, not control it.

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Some effective ways to cope with stress are the following:

1. Break down Your Task or To-Do List

The first step towards clearing it is writing it down, so you create a to do list. But what do you do once you get there? Do you start with the easiest task and work your way to the most difficult? Do you start with the most urgent or the most important or a mix of both?

Breaking down your task list can help you cope with stress. You will find that people, circumstances will change that lift the stress from you, but your attitude in any situation is what keeps stress truly at bay.

Start with prioritizing your task list. What are your long-term goals? What satisfies most of that for you? You can decide to act on tasks that help you in the longterm the most while also tackling the urgent, right here right now needs of your life.

Mind Tools says:[1]

“With effective time management, you can take control of your time and get on top of your to do list.”

Breaking down your task management is about what is most important to you in life and your day to day functioning:

  • Write down all your tasks that need done, in no particular order.
  • Color code, flag or whatever method you like-urgency and importance in a ranking order that you decide.
  • Take out a calendar or planner and plot out when you will tackle each task.
  • Prioritize each day what you need to get down and follow this method.
  • Start over and do it all over again regularly.

A to-do list is more than just task and time management. It is about priorities. When you know your priorities, you are less stressed about choices you have to make.

Learn more tips about using to-do lists here: The Right Way to Make a To Do List and Get Things Done

2. Find a Good, Therapeutic Outlet

When you find an outlet, it can include therapy, but it also can be coping skills that you pick and enjoy. It’s something that lets out the stress.

Exercise, journaling, talking to someone or to a therapist, listening to music, meditation, cooking, relaxing in general, reading a good book, watching a movie or TV show… What you do is up to you.

Once you pick a coping skill, your stress will decrease and your ability to COPE will increase. You will then be able to perform the task at hand. You will be able to use your coping skills to achieve your goals. Once you have less stress, you can resume working.

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You can decide what you do with your time, even when stress is daunting and big. You can decide to spend your time your way. You can rest. You can recharge. You can find strength again when you use your coping skills. You just need an outlet for the stress.

You can’t just push through everything in life and decide not to feel. Let yourself feel. Feeling is not the enemy. Lack of focus is. You can be focused on a task ahead and still decide to feel. You can even use that feeling to motivate you. The key is to let it out.

Stress management is not just about overcoming stress. It’s using it. It’s not letting it control you. It’s effectively coping you so you can still breathe.

3. Schedule Breaks for Yourself

It’s very important to recharge. When you are creating a to do list, you need to ask yourself, “When is the best time for me to recharge and relax so I don’t let this overwhelm me?” This isn’t the same as procrastination. You give yourself a timer and let yourself rest when you set it.

Scheduling breaks in your day is something many of us forget to do.

According to Harvard Business Review,[2] it says that you should trying even switching up tasks to keep yourself from being overwhelmed and burned out when you are problem solving.

“When you’re working on tasks that would benefit from creative thinking, consciously insert breaks to refresh your approach. Set them at regular intervals- use a timer if you have to.”

It says that this may be indeed the best use of your time, to schedule breaks, to get better results.

Be guilt free in your pursuit of the best problem solving skills. Taking breaks will actually enhance your skills leaving you with less stress overall.

4. Meditate to Release Tension in Body, Mind and Soul

Meditation and mindfulness can help in each circumstance with learning how to use our inner strength to grow and give. We can learn from meditation that life is a current, and we can either swim with it or get pulled under. This is very important to note when we are stressed.

Meditation can help us release stress sometimes more than anything else. It brings us very much into the present. Worrying is about the future; stress is an emotional response to worry and pressure that tends to feel very negative. But we can dial it down with meditation so that we can deal.

Mindfulness is about using the present moment to the best of your ability. You can be meditative in it with the simplest of tasks. It’s grounding yourself with each moment in terms of using the task at hand to be present.

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You can be cooking, washing your hands, eating, or walking outside. All you need to do is breathe and be in the moment in order to meditate.

It can even be as simple as releasing tension in your body. Unclench your jaw. Release your shoulders from your ears. Release all tension from your whole body by thinking of each body part’s release. Start with your head and go down to your feet and toes. Do it as often as you like.

Learn how to meditate easily: Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

5. Be Grateful

Stop what you’re doing. Think about what you still have. Rather than seeing the odds as against you, see what you have already done and already have. This will help you to move forward.

You are still alive. You still have tools that you can use to help you. You have resources. You have people; you are not alone. You have abilities. Where you lack, you can ask for help. So you only need to be grateful.

It doesn’t mean you discount the pain you have had in any situation, but you acknowledge what you can do with it. You are not over. This stress will not define you or decide for you. You can use what you have right here and right now to make a difference.

Write a gratitude list daily. Even if you only think of three things to be grateful for, that is more than enough. Remind yourself of this list of gratitude to help you cope with the stress you feel. Through realizing what you still have, you can find better solutions and release the stress from overtaking you.

Your thoughts have power. Using gratitude to defeat stress is something you can do daily. You can actually train your brain to be more grateful by coming up with at least three things daily that you are grateful for.

6. Find the Motivation

Finding motivation for many can be difficult. But you’re not like other people. You are the only you in this whole universe. That means what motivates you may be different from what motivates someone else. You may decide to pursue things other won’t agree with or understand. That’s okay. The key is that you have decided something. And that often comes with a lot of stress.

When you are stuck, it’s up to you to find the motivation. You can let situations define you or you can reclaim your story. You can stand for something. You can do a social good. You can help a friend. You can release the negativity by focusing on the positive. It’s up to you. You have control here. You have some power. You have some say.

According to Barking Up the Wrong Tree, a science based answers and expert insight blog that has been featured on The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine and Time Magazine, there are 3 steps to motivating yourself backed by science:[3]

They are getting positive, rewarding yourself and getting peer pressure are the best ways to motivate yourself.

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It also says,

“Think of yourself as a motivated, productive person. Research shows how people feel about themselves has a huge effect on success.”

When you decide to be positive, you make a decision to not let the stress or negativity weigh you down or define you. Reward yourself because you deserve goodness and you deserve happiness and you deserve to be recognized for your work in life.

Lastly, getting peer pressure is about letting others in on your goals. That helps you stay motivated and stay moving forward.

7. Ask for Help

When you are struggling, you don’t have to have all the answers. You just need a healthy outlook and to let input in. You will be better with stress when you have others to help you. Even if it is a professional such as a therapist or an expert such as someone in your field, or a friend, or family member you trust, all that matters is that you’re not afraid to need help.

Perfection is something we all strive for, but we can’t have because it doesn’t truly exist. We can get close to it, but there’s always a way to do something better that will be found out in the future.

So, ask for help. Ask for people’s input. Don’t be afraid to get feedback. Maybe there’s a more effective way to do something. That will lead to less stress and more productivity.

If you find it difficult to ask for help, these tips can help: How to Ask for Help When You Feel Silly to Do So

Final Thoughts

Stress is unavoidable. It will always be present in our most trying times. You can either learn to cope with it or let it ruin you.

It doesn’t have to control you in the way it has been. You can make the change today, right now to take your power back. These 7 tips for coping with stress effectively can do just that.

Good luck!

More Tips on Stress Relief

Featured photo credit: Doğukan Şahin via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Mind Tools: Time Management
[2] Harvard Business Review: To Be More Creative, Schedule Your Breaks
[3] Barking up the Wrong Tree: How To Motivate Yourself: 3 Steps Backed By Science

More by this author

Sarah Browne

Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist who promotes the end of stigma for mental health.

Why Am I So Sad? 9 Possible Causes You Shouldn’t Ignore 7 Tips for Coping with Stress Effectively 5 Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude 14 Personal Goals for a Better You Next Year How to Practice Meditation for Anxiety and Stress Relief

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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