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.
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?
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:
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.
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.
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!