It's 3:00 a.m. on a Tuesday morning and you're wide awake. You're watching the blades of the ceiling fan spin around and around while the gears in your mind are working overtime. You crawled into bed hours ago and were just about to drift off to sleep when you suddenly remembered you forgot to reply to that email your boss sent you the previous morning. At first you told yourself that you would worry about it in the morning, but the longer you thought about it the harder it was to go to sleep. Now you're awake and tying your stomach in knots because you've been overthinking the email situation and now you've stressed yourself out so much that you're sure you'll be promptly fired tomorrow morning.
Stress comes in all different shapes and forms. It creeps up over time without notice and can be incredibly difficult to get rid of. Managing your stress can be a daunting task when you aren't sure where to start. Here are a few ways to start:
1. Allow yourself to make mistakes
You’re only human and humans make mistakes regularly. More often than not, people tend to hold themselves to an impossible standard of perfection that no one would ever be able to reach. It should be learned that mistakes are not character flaws. They are opportunities for growth and improvement. When you learn to welcome and embrace your mistakes, you are taking an immense amount of stress off your shoulders. Instead of worrying about what you will do wrong, you are now allowing yourself to accept that mistakes happen and you can learn from them.
2. It’s okay to put yourself first sometimes
We all have responsibilities and as we get older, the list seems to keep growing. Whether you’re a single mom trying to support your family or a full-time student working three jobs just to pay tuition, stress can affect everyone differently. For some stress can manifest as physical aches and pains. It’s been proven that large amounts of stress can weaken your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to sickness. When you are sick it can be twice as difficult to perform your regular duties and when you aren’t able to, this can cause even more undue stress. It’s a vicious cycle that no one benefits from. Sometimes we are so focused on the needs of others that we forget our own needs. It’s important to remember to take care of yourself during these times. Try to take some time to do something that you love, whether that be enjoying a glass of wine at the end of the night or reading your favorite book while taking a hot bath. Taking a moment at the end of the day to slow down and relax can help you have a clearer mind and a healthier body.
3. Don’t beat yourself up
Sometimes, even though you’ve worked your hardest, things just might not work out. Maybe you spent a week preparing for that big presentation at work and everything went flawlessly, but for some reason your coworker got chosen for a promotion instead of you. It can be incredibly frustrating when you’ve worked hard for something and you don’t receive the praise or reward that you thought you would. It can be so easy to immediately blame yourself for things that are out of your control. Sure, your coworker may have gotten that promotion you wanted, but that doesn’t mean that you didn’t try your best. Remind yourself that you are doing your best and that is more than enough to be proud of.
Stress doesn’t discriminate and can come in many different forms and severities. Knowing how to deal with and managing your stress can have a huge impact on your health and overall attitude. Life is too short to spend all your time worrying about what has happened or what could happen in the future. Take some time to kick back, relax, and don’t forget to breathe.