7 ways to manage stress

Photo by Derick Daily on Unsplash


We have all experienced stress in one way or another. Just look at these stats from [1]

  • 55% of Americans are stressed during the day.
  • Americans aged 30-49 are the most stressed age group.
  • Women are more stressed-out than men.
  • 52% of Generation Z in the US have been diagnosed with mental health issues.
  • 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress.

Stress can affect us in more ways than one. Sometimes, it's just “one of those days.” But there are times when it could lead to health problems like high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, digestive issues, insomnia, low libido, and depression.

Thus it is important to know how to manage stress well and keep a healthy lifestyle that will keep it at bay. There is no one-size-fits all approach to stress management – what works for one may not work for another. But various strategies exist to ward off stress, from short-term remedies at home to maintaining healthy habits for long-term stress management. And it’s good to mix up your stress management strategies, varying them based on your need at the time.

Here are 7 strategies I’ve short-listed based on the following:

  • Easy to do
  • Can be done anytime, anywhere
  • At no cost


#1 Practice positive self-talk.

Be kind to yourself. And sometimes, it all starts with how you talk to yourself. 

Watch your self-talk. Do you often find yourself entertaining self-doubt, self-criticisms, and harsh words when you take on everyday occurrence?

Remember not to be too hard on yourself when things don’t go your way. If you would talk to your best friend, child or spouse in a loving and compassionate manner, then you can definitely do the same for yourself.

Curate your thoughts and pay more attention to positive than negative self-talk. Avoid calling yourself names or putting too much doubt in yourself. I love what Tony Robbins once said, “energy flows where attention goes.”


#2 Develop and maintain a healthy diet. 

Did you know that one who has a poor diet tends to get stressed more? [2] If you’re thinking of emotional eating, then you hit the nail on the head.

If you’ve noticed yourself reaching out for chocolates or that bag of chips when stressed, then you know this is a poor coping mechanism that wouldn’t relieve stress in the long-term. So steer clear of refined carbs (looking at you potato chips and cookies!) And if it’s hard to NOT look for it, then maybe it’s time to replace your kitchen drawer with healthier options like eggs, walnuts and avocado. The latter would definitely help you with regulating stress and mood and supply you with energy to smash your heavy workload through.

Consider taking supplements if you feel like having such a busy lifestyle is making this not achievable for you. Take the powerful duo of caffeine and L-theanine. Caffeine and L-Theanine work together to help you concentrate and stay focused without the jitters, crashes, and anxiety that can come from caffeine alone.


#3 Move. Exercise. Workout. 

Physical activity is an essential strategy for stress management. [3]

Working out and exercise produce happy hormones – or endorphins. This comes in the form of a “runner’s high” or the feeling of being on top of the world after a nice jog. Or a generally happier disposition after a session of yoga. In fact, studies show that exercise leads to a better mood because of the changes it does in your brain, both short-term and long-term.  [4]

According to research, 20 or 30 minutes of aerobic exercise can help your body release endorphins, chemicals that when interacting with receptors in your brain, can reduce your perception of pain and bring a positive vibe. This can also release serotonin and dopamine, mood-enhancing chemicals that can stay within your system over the next couple of hours post-workout.

There are many ways to stay active and fit during a winter lockdown. And it may sound counter-productive, but a workout when feeling stressed and exhausted can help turn things around.


#4 Practice meditation. Consider yoga. 

There are various forms of meditation. It could be mindfulness exercises, which engages the senses to what is happening in the current moment. It could be about repeating a mantra, or guided imagery, or knowing some breathing exercises.

This may sound daunting for some but remember, developing a habit starts with action. Start small – maybe 2-3 minutes of meditation is enough. Then you can eventually turn it into 5 minutes, 10 minutes and so on.

The important thing is to know the key techniques for quieting the mind and knowing some breathing exercises.

The best form of meditation for me is yoga. It’s not just about being flexible (it’s not), it’s about the combination of active movements, meditation and breathing. These all three are perfect ways to decompress and destress.  Yoga brings a whole variety of benefits physically, psychologically and spiritually.

With the current (lockdown) scenario, there are many online yoga sessions available. Some yoga studios are even offering free trials for new yogis, so it’s the perfect time to practice yoga if you haven’t started yet.


#5 Develop a mindset of gratitude.

To me, the easiest and fastest way to turn negative energy from stress is to think of what I could be grateful for at the present moment.

Listing down the many good things happening in your life, all things considered, is a surefire way to instantly turn negative vibes into positive. Be thankful for the roof over your head, a sunny weather, people around you, good health, etc. You’ll be surprised at how empowering it is to know that you have various resources around you and that maybe, your current stressor wouldn’t matter in five years’ time.

A mindset of gratitude is a handy habit to develop. Try listing down 5 things you are grateful for in the morning. And when things get shitty, go back to your lists and you will see things turn around.


#6 Revisit your to-do’s. 

Sometimes, we tend to say yes to a lot of things even when we know it could only overwhelm us in the process. A good way to relieve yourself from stress is to revisit your to-do list. Try picking the three most important tasks for the day, and maybe that’s enough for now. Be more realistic about your list – instead of jotting down 10 tasks for the day, perhaps 3-5 is more doable.

Reassess your capacity and capability for the tasks on your laundry list. Mark those that you think need immediate attention. If there’s still too much, consider extending the deadline (or asking for an extension). Move your meetings.  Perhaps you can re-assign the task to a team member?

Try time blocking where you allot a certain part of day all to do emails, deep focus tasks, and meetings. Avoid mixing them all up and allow yourself to focus on one activity at a time.

Maybe you now find yourself involved in a multiple committees or organizations. Ask yourself if you can still manage participation in all of them. Perhaps you can get rid of some.

Remember, managing your time well also involves having a closer look at what you say yes to, reallocating tasks, and allowing yourself to focus on one activity at a time.


#7 Cut out your stressors.

Finally, the most important thing to managing your stress is to identify your stressors. What triggers you?

Does work constantly stress you to the point that you can’t sleep at night? Or when you do you dream of work and people at work? Then perhaps it’s high time to look for another job or discuss this with HR/immediate supervisor.

Take a closer look and see if social media is contributing to your stress. Does today’s news constantly make you angry, anxious or generally down? Then it’s time to go offline or lessen your screen time. 

Toxic relationships? Too much alcohol? Drinking too much regular coffee?

Identify your everyday stressors and be ready to make the necessary change so you can feel better.

Making a change is hard, so just commit to taking the first step of identifying stressors. Once you can identify and name your stressors, then you can start taking the small steps needed to minimize them over time.