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Published on February 26, 2020

11 Ways to Handle Stress Wisely

11 Ways to Handle Stress Wisely

As the number one killer of men and women, stress is the root cause of many diseases, from cancer to heart disease. Left unaddressed, stress has a crushing force that, over time, can lead to ugly repercussions. From frequent headaches to regular fatigue, symptoms will come pouring in if you don’t learn how to handle stress wisely. [1]

We can’t always prevent or avoid stress, but how you conduct your lifestyle can radically reduce it. Instead of viewing every problem as a massive explosive strapped to your body, it’s worth it to slow your thoughts down and recognize that nobody is a superhuman.

If your stress is coming from your job or career, try to find ways to appreciate the little things as opposed to viewing everything as a puzzle to solve. How you approach communication and problem solving will make an enormous difference.

It’s easy to be absent minded in tense moments and act or respond impulsively when issues arise. Stress accumulates because we allow things to fester and don’t effectively sort out various dilemmas in our daily lives.

Mindfulness is the key to successfully navigating stressful situations. While stress fogs our brains, an open mind leaves room for new insights we otherwise might not have considered, so it’s important to keep our minds free of unnecessary mental clutter.

Every system of the body responds to stress, so learning how to respond positively can have numerous benefits. With that in mind, here are eleven ways to handle stress wisely.

1. Ease Into Your Day

Before you even get out of bed in the morning, give yourself some time to meditate. Focus on your breath and get unnecessary thoughts out of your head to change the way you think and perceive situations or events.

Beginning your day by easing into it in utter silence will enhance your performance at work and keep you calm enough to adequately process chaotic or busy moments.

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Avoiding a muddled mind will improve your ability to accomplish tasks and execute them to completion at an optimal level. A clear mind promotes effective cognitive processing and assessing, so if you work in a hectic environment, it helps if your thoughts and actions naturally calm you down.

2. Consider Self-talk

Self-talk, when done correctly, can give you just the confidence you need to tackle any hardships you may encounter at work or home.

Affirmations are a form of self-talk and include reminding yourself that you are where you need to be, that you can handle anything that comes your way, and that you’re a fast learner. If everything feels difficult, remind yourself that, with time, what was once so challenging will become second nature.

Self-talk can serve you as a remedy for boosting your mood when you’re feeling low or like you just can’t cope. How you speak with and interact with yourself should align with how you interact and speak with others.

Anxiety is often self-induced by our thoughts and internal dialogue. What and how you think creates a ripple effect in your communications with others. Self-talk may be just what you need to overcome challenging obstacles in your day-to-day life.

3. Be Honest With Yourself

Being honest with your friends, peers, and colleagues is one thing, but being honest with yourself is quite another. Telling yourself the truth when you’ve goofed up or made an already difficult situation worse might be a tough hurdle to overcome, but doing so can help your mind handle stress more efficiently.

If you’re prone to worsening your own stress, be honest with yourself about it and determine to work on it. Using mindfulness and grounding techniques, you can overcome your tendencies toward stress before, during, and after life events and difficult situations.

4. Omit Unimportant Details

Unimportant details might include worrying that a friend, colleague, or boss has it in for you, that you could have done this or that better, or that you’re not exactly where you want to be in any given moment. All of these nagging thoughts are just your mind entertaining unimportant details that you don’t need to indulge.

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Our own thoughts have the power to completely inundate us with pointless or even silly concerns, so omitting them can be key when learning how to handle stress.

Have you ever found yourself in a stressful situation at work and later found yourself ruminating until your head ached? This needless mental torture is a surefire way to drain all of your energy. Instead, omit the ruminations and focus on the positive aspects of your day.

5. Become a Pro at Assessing Situations

When things get chaotic, it can be difficult to appropriately assess all that’s going on. One way individuals exacerbate their stress is by acting impulsively or doing something absentmindedly. It’s not uncommon to misinterpret rapidly unfolding situations, so moving and responding mindfully and slowly can be beneficial.

Even in the core of chaos, pull yourself together and create a system. Find ways to be skilled in assessing situations in the moment by slowing your mind and thoughts down with your breathing.

Being mindful not to throw fuel on an already raging fire will allow you to find the next best thing to do. If we can do that, we can drastically improve our ability to handle stress.

6. Learn How to Self-compromise

Practicing self-compromise means that you are willing to accept stress as an unavoidable part of life that you can work with without being overthrown or dictated by it. A wise mind knows that stress doesn’t have to hold the reigns.

Self-compromise is an empowering skill to acquire — you’re accepting something as is while deciding not to be controlled by it.

7. Visualize Scenarios to Apply in the Present and Future

Visualization is a great resource for those struggling with anxiety or stress. Before going to work, visualize yourself having a successful day and create a plan for yourself.

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Fear of failure often contributes to stress and anxiety, so visualizing situations of success has the ability to change how you function in your day-to-day life. It can be a weapon for combating stress before its onset.

Before you have to perform at work, visualize yourself reaching your desired outcome. [2]

8. Maintain a Problem-solving Mindset

In difficult matters at home or work, maintaining a problem-solving mindset will keep your creative juices flowing, and you’ll be quick and effective in your responses.

You will also set yourself up for success by not viewing issues or problems as if they are large mounds of tangled thread. Instead, when something comes up, imagine yourself solving the problem quickly. Maintaining this frame of mind will put you in the driver’s seat as opposed to stress driving over you.

9. Let Go of What You Can’t Control

Another way stress accumulates is through our desperation to steer the ship of our circumstances and outcomes. The only thing you have control over is your behavior, responses, and how you navigate life in the right direction.

Train yourself to let go of the things you have no control over. Instead of trying to make problems disappear, take control of how to handle stress when you face those problems. This will naturally point you in a better direction.

10. Seek Simplicity

Every aspect of life has its complications, from relationships to work to how we spend our free time. Our thoughts naturally spiral and blow everything out of proportion, causing us to over-analyze situations, so learning how to reign this in and handle the stress it causes is crucial.

The simplest thing to do when this happens is to breathe. Relaxed breathing can intervene and bring your thoughts back to a more concrete and accurate place from which to work. [3]

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11. Don’t Internalize Stressors

It’s not uncommon to take someone else’s worries, burdens, fears and make them our own. On the other hand, we regularly keep our own stressors locked away and baking on high temperatures, which creates a quick route to burnout.

If you notice yourself holding on to a stressful situation, try an activity such as writing in a journal or completing a “brain dump,” the act of emptying the mind of troublesome or recurring thoughts by putting them into a different medium.

Drawing boundaries with those around you can also help to avoid internalizing stressors. If you don’t want someone handing you their problems, create some distance or vocalize your concerns.

The Bottom Line

Stress can be far more destructive than we realize. More importantly, it can kill the joy in our work and hobbies and destroy our overall well-being if left unchecked. You have the power to take back control and not be consumed by stress. Maintaining a wise, open mind can eliminate stress from your life and allow you to take back control.

Learn to quiet obsessive or unnecessarily repeated thoughts using meditative breathing and grounding techniques. Focus on the present moment and do so with the goal of keeping things simple.

Instead of letting stress consume you, learn how to handle it wisely and experience the benefits of a life lived with less worry.

More Tips to Restore Energy and Reduce Stress

Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Tessa Koller

Author, Motivational Public Speaker and Artist

9 Happy Habits That Will Change Your Outlook and Your Life How to Work Towards a Healthy Life Balance 11 Ways to Handle Stress Wisely How Many Hours of Sleep Do I Need? (What the Science Says) 10 Ways to Step Up Your Personal Growth and Succeed in Life

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Last Updated on November 12, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
  • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
  • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
  • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
  • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

    The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

    Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

    Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

    If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

    It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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    4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

    Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

    1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
    2. Exercising regularly
    3. Using stressbusters
    4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

    After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

    I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

    Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

    • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
    • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
    • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
    • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

    The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

    Living Healthy

    Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

    In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

    As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

    Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

    1. Unplug

    Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

    Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

    2. Unwind

    Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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    3. Get Comfortable

    Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

    Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

    Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

    This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

    Exercise

    Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

    That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

    I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

    If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

    Attitude

    Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

    When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

    But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

    Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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    1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
    2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
    3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
    4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
    5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
    6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

    This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

    When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

    Nutrition

    Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

    If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

    Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

    Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

    1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
    2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
    3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
    4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
    5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
    6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
    7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
    8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
    9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

    Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

    That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

    Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

    The Bottom Line

    If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

    If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

    Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

    More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

    Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
    [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
    [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
    [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
    [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
    [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
    [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
    [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
    [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
    [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
    [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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