A little bit of stress can be a great thing. It is how we find the motivation to finish a work assignment by the deadline or make it to the airport in time for our flight. But most of us are aware that when stress becomes chronic, it’s terrible for us. It releases hormones into our system that aren’t good for us long-term and can result in harm over time.
Most of us are also aware of some of the most common stress-busting advice. We know we need to exercise, eat right, and create space in our lives for self-care. But making time is sometimes simply out of reach. Are there any tools a stressed-out person can use when finding time for exercise or long bubble baths is only a dream?
Create Routines for Yourself
Setting your alarm for the same time every morning, even when you may not have gotten to bed (or to sleep) on time the night before, can help regulate your sleep/wake cycle. Try creating a morning ritual that gets you ready on time and addresses needs like coffee and something, even a granola bar or other grab-and-go option, to eat. Write down a checklist if it helps. Try to do the same thing for when you come home. Be as detailed as possible.
It may feel silly to write down instructions for yourself about where to put your purse or to put your phone on the charger. Do it anyway! It will help you remember important tasks and details like where the car keys are, and it will help establish a sense of normalcy and predictability for your brain. You may not be able to predict when you will get home, but it will help to know what steps you will take when you get there.
Move When You Can
A little bit of exercise is much better than none. Take the stairs. Do walking meetings. Instead of circling the parking lot for a better space, spend the time walking a little further into the store. Even small amounts of movement can benefit you for hours.
There is almost always something funny about a situation, even when it is grim. It may be dark humor. Nevertheless, try to identify something about which you can make a (reasonably tasteful) joke. A laugh or even just a smile releases hormones in your body that can help o mitigate some of your stress and relax your muscles.
If you have the means, use services like Task Rabbit to take some of the pressure off of yourself. If you have supportive friends or family, see if they can step in to help with child care or errands. Try using herbal supplements or CBD oil to calm yourself during particularly stressful moments or regularly to help keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed. If it seems like you are more stressed than your situation merits, it might be worth pursuing therapy. There is no shame in getting help from services, people, natural remedies, or modern medicine — it is the responsible thing to do to take care of yourself and meet your commitments.
Plan for the Future
While finding ways to mitigate your stress in the moment, don’t stop looking to the future. Genuinely hectic schedules are not sustainable. Start making plans that will lead to less busyness in the future to protect yourself from burnout and potentially severe health consequences.