It’s been almost a year since most of us started working remotely and I never imagined the amount of stress and pressure these circumstances could bring to us. During these circumstances, it’s so important for us to effectively manage stress. Pre-COVID-19, stressors for some were around travel, commute, and limited time with family; now the stressors are around managing the unknown and much more.
Initially, I struggled with it and couldn’t put my finger on what was causing me stress and anxiety. It took some work and self-reflection to understand my own thoughts and emotions. I also found that I’m not alone in feeling the stress. Recent study published by Boston Consulting group reveals that over 60% of working parents are stressed and worried about their mental well-being.
Now more than ever, it’s vital to pay close attention to how we are coping and managing our lives. I’d like to share with you a few effective ways to manage stress that have worked for me.
Here are 9 simple ways to manage stress and anxiety
Practicing gratitude is one of the best ways to handle stress. You don’t need to take my word for it, there’s tons of research to prove it. The practice is so simple too- write down 3-5 things you are grateful for every morning and notice how it changes your perspective on things. You’ll notice that you don’t need to win the mega millions lottery to feel grateful. We are so caught up in our day to day that we miss seeing all the goodness around us! Enjoying a fresh cup of coffee, talking to a friend or family dinner time could be some of the most precious things you could be grateful for!
Stay in the Present
This has been a game changer for me. Often, I tend to think too much about how things could have been different or what it would be like if COVID or a specific negative thing didn’t happen in my life. When I began to accept things as is and stayed in the present and stopped ruminating about how a negative incident impacted me, it’s helped me quite a bit. Again, the idea is not to stay idle and not make changes to things you can control. The idea is to let go of things you can’t control and make peace with the present moment.
I am no expert in exercise science, but I can tell you that there’s tons of articles and science to show that exercise has an immediate effect on your mood. Physical activity triggers release of dopamine and serotonin, which can improve your mood and reduce anxiety. We don’t get as much physical activity especially working from home and it’s so important to make this a part of your daily routine to get the maximum benefit.
In my perspective, being mindful is not an event. It’s a way of being. I used to think that if I meditate for 15 minutes a day, I checked the box for being mindful 😊 Well, I now understand that it doesn’t work that way. Being mindful in everything you do is key to reducing stress and anxiety. That means, not checking your phone while working; being focused in what you are doing 100% of the time. Talking to a friend? – being mindful means being fully present in the conversation and not letting your mind wander or check your Facebook feed while talking to your friend.
Practice Deep Breathing Techniques
I picked up this practice a few months ago and it has helped me tremendously to stay focused. I typically do pranayama (practice of breath control in yoga) every morning to set myself up for a productive day. Check out this amazing resource if you are interested in doing this practice and reap the benefits of these techniques. Not ready for this? – It’s ok! Next time you feel stressed or tensed, bring attention to your breath, and take a few deep breaths and notice how it makes you feel.
I know I already talked about mindfulness, but for me, mindfulness is different than meditation. Meditation is a way to train your mind to focus and re-direct thoughts. It helps you to increase your awareness and become more mindful. There are several free videos and guided meditations that are available online. I have taken this free course and followed these techniques for a few years now.
I will be honest; this is a work in progress for me as I tend to rely on food to calm my emotions. However, I do believe that we are what we eat and continually try to fuel my body with nutritious food. One good way to do that is to make it a habit and automate some of your meals. For example, I make a nutritious green smoothie most mornings for breakfast. Think of ways you can incorporate foods that will nourish your body and soul.
It’s so important to disconnect from technology every day. Make some time and space for yourself without any technology distractions. It could be workout, meditation, practicing gratitude or reading a book. I find it very helpful to disconnect from my phone at least an hour before bedtime.
Connect with Friends & Family
Make the best use of technology by staying connected with your friends and family. I make it a point to have some talk time with my friends and family every week. Even though I miss seeing them in person, the conversations still help me with my overall well-being. Think about someone you haven’t talked to in a while and give them a call!
None of these tips are new or groundbreaking. I’m sure you’ve either heard of them or practice them yourself. My hope is that we continue to think about these and incorporate some of them into our daily lives to lead a happy and content life.
What are some effective ways you manage stress? Would love to hear from you!