Nearly every day we experience some kind of stress, whether it’s routine stress from our daily responsibilities or stress from a sudden, negative change like a traumatic event. The bottom line is stress affects everyone.
While not all stress is bad, long-term stress can be harmful to your health and prevent you from performing your daily activities. Stress can affect everything from your relationships with your family and friends to your ability to focus and sleep at night.
But there are countless ways to manage your stress. You should never feel like you have to keep it all to yourself. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. At a recent discussion series hosted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, GovLoop’s Senior Technology Editor, Nicole Blake Johnson, gave some tips on de-stressing. Here are some of her best practices.
1. Take control of your thoughts. On average, we have 30,000 thoughts daily. That’s a lot to keep track of. While it’s almost impossible to record and track them all, try and take an inventory of what you’re thinking at any given moment. “Thoughts are like waves. You can’t stop them from coming, but you can choose which ones to surf,” Johnson said, sharing her adaptation of a Jonatan Mårtensson quote.
Consider why you’re having the thoughts that you’re having. Don’t let thoughts run unchecked in your mind. Understanding why you may be having certain recurring thoughts can help you change your way of thinking in the long-term. If you’re having a lot of negative thoughts, ask yourself why that may be and reflect on what it is in your life that may be causing them. “It’s important to be aware of your own thoughts,” Johnson said.
2. Try meditation or prayer. With so much going on every day at every moment, it’s important to give yourself some quiet time where your mind isn’t running a mile a minute. Practicing meditation or prayer can get you into a state of calmness and peace. Also consider turning off electronics, including your phone and the television, for even an hour.
Develop morning and evening routines where you step away from the screen and allow yourself to empty your thoughts. Try writing them down or get outside and walking around.
3. Focus on the good. It’s easy to psych yourself out and stress out over all the negatives. Instead, focus on the positive things in life. Starting the day with an affirmation can help ease the worries you may be having. Affirmations — or confessions — are short statements you can make about the upcoming day or about yourself in general. For example, write down “I have a great attitude and work well with others.” This type of declaration can help you visualize yourself in the way you want and it can lead to a much more positive-thinking day. Remind yourself of past victories where you were able to effectively manage stress.
4. Get clarity. Too often, we stress about things that may or may not happen. Try not to assume the worst. And if you do assume, assume the best of the situation instead. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get clarity, so you’re not worrying whether you’re doing something wrong.
5. Finally, consider the 10-year rule. This rule asks you to think, “10 years from now, will this matter?” (Check out “The Speed of Trust” for more details about this rule.) Often times, we worry and stress about things that will seem trivial even a day later. Don’t let every moment dictate your actions and emotions. Let some things go. “And don’t forget to smile,” Johnson reminded.
For more great tips on managing stress, check out these other GovLoop resources:
Got any tips of your own for de-stressing? Comment below!