For most of us, every day has its little stressors. You might have fought traffic getting into work, come in to find a huge stack of work waiting for you, or maybe you're caught up preparing for a major meeting. But on those super stressful days, where everything seems to happen at once with no reprieve in sight, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.
On those days when you're moments away from pulling your hair out or punching a hole through your computer screen, take a moment to try something more productive. Nothing can eliminate all your stress at once, but these seven tricks can help you better manage your stress and turn your day into a much more pleasant one.
1. Go for a walk.
Get off of your chair, get away from your desk, and go walk outside for a while. As little as 10 minutes of walking can be effective, but more couldn't hurt--if you can get away with it. This is going to do a few things for you. First, it's going to get you away from the site of your stress (usually your desk or office). Once away from the physical location, your mind will be able to decompress and reassess your situation. Second, it's going to get you some physical exercise. That's going to release endorphins, get your blood pumping, and physically relieve your body of stress. Finally, you'll get some fresh air and feel refreshed when you decide to come back inside.
2. Eat a healthy snack.
When you're overwhelmed with stress or responsibilities, you can sometimes forget to eat. When you're hungry, everything stressful is amplified to another level, making things seem worse than they actually are. A healthy snack can help reverse that, and even if you aren't especially hungry, a little food can help clear your mind, release endorphins, and give you more energy to handle the day. Foods high in protein or healthy fats, like nuts, avocados, and hard-boiled eggs, are great choices, and of course, you can never go wrong with fruits and vegetables.
3. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a simple style of meditation that you can do anywhere at any time, for as long as you'd like. Even if you don't get up from your chair, you can practice mindfulness for a few minutes and start feeling the effects immediately. Put simply, mindfulness is the art of thinking nothing. Clear your mind of all your worries, all your preoccupations, and all your thoughts. Focus on blankness, on nothing, and any time a thought enters your mind, picture yourself physically grabbing it and letting it go. It can be difficult the first few times you try it, but with practice, you'll be able to enter this meditative state at a moment's notice, instantly relieving some of the day's burden.
4. Turn off communications.
In this age of hyperaccessibility, it's easy to overcommunicate, and excessive communication can make your stressed-out brain even more fretful. The ping of an incoming email or the ring of a phone can send you into an all-out panic, so before that happens, simply turn off all forms of communication you have, even if it's for only a few minutes. That's all the time you need to decompress from the overwhelming nature of the day and reassess where you stand. Plus, if you have a stressful problem to solve, it will give you a distraction-free time to focus on solving it.
5. Talk to someone you love.
Human contact is one of the best prescriptions for any emotional negativity. Talking to someone you love for a few minutes will help relieve your stress, and might be able to put some of your problems in perspective (if you choose to talk about what's stressing you out). If you have a friend at the office, seek him/her out for a brief chat, and go out to lunch if possible. If not, why not give your spouse or a family member a quick call? You can talk about anything and still feel better. I can almost guarantee it.
6. Practice visualization.
Visualization is a mental exercise that serves as a functional opposite of mindfulness. Rather than blanking out and thinking of nothing, you'll work to visualize something actively that makes you happy. Close your eyes and picture whatever you want--you could picture yourself relaxing on a beach, playing your favorite sport, or cuddling with a litter of puppies. Whatever it takes to put a smile on your face, imagine it.
7. Take a moment to reorganize.
Excess clutter is one of the easiest stressors to get rid of, and getting rid of it is one of the most stress-relieving actions you can take. This, of course, refers to both physical and mental clutter. For physical clutter, take a moment to reorganize your desk. Clean up your pile of paperclips, rearrange your papers, and throw away anything you don't need. For mental clutter, write a list of everything you need to take action on and everything that's preoccupying your mind. Then, prioritize your system and cross off anything that doesn't deserve your attention today. Both strategies will put your stress in perspective and help you focus on the remaining work in the day.
Try one of these tricks, or try all of them. Any effort you make to step away from your work and relieve your built-up stress is going to be effective. You may not feel jubilant afterward, but you should no longer feel overwhelmed, and you'll be far better equipped to handle the challenges in front of you. Stay positive and keep moving--we all have days like this, but the stress will pass in time.