Living without stress is a luxury for many people. We are used to the fact that in order to get rid of work-related tensions, everyday duties and fears for the future, we need to spend money or a lot of time. Both of these resources are scarce these days. But there are effective, fast, clever and completely free ways to deal with stress. Who knows, perhaps it could even become your ally?
How does stress affect us?
Low stress can motivate you, it can help focus faster, make you more effective and productive. You might even be inclined to say that moderate stress in professional life is necessary. However, it may happen that stress becomes the dominant feeling. In such a case it’s difficult to fully focus on your tasks. Additionally, the longer and more stressed you are, the worse we feel. It has a negative impact on your sleep pattern, weakens you immune system and generally decreases the quality of your life. Stress affects both your mind, but also our body. Therefore, if you notice it spoils your mood and becomes too much to handle, perhaps it’s worth making an effort to deal with it.
What stresses at work?
Basically anything. Having too much, or too little work, communication with clients or co-workers, unpaid invoices – all of these might contribute to your stress level. It seems especially true for freelancers, who need to take care of everything themselves.
Improve your time management
Unfortunately, inadequate working time management is often the cause of excessive stress. It might happen if you take on too many tasks, or fail to realize that completing some of the projects will require more time and effort. That’s why you should take some time when accepting new assignments and try to negotiate deadlines. If possible, give yourself some time margin, just to be on the safe side.
What also works is diving bigger tasks into smaller ones. Completing your work step by step, gives you a sense of progress and can be motivating. That way it will be easier to focus on more challenging projects.
If you have difficulty concentrating, even when the tasks are relatively small, it’s worth to write down everything you have to do that day. Place the most important and most difficult tasks at the top of the list. These items should be taken care of with priority. Once the most demanding tasks are done, the other ones – by contrast – will seem extremely easy. A well-prepared to-do-list can give you a sense of control over your work and has a potential to decrease your stress level.
Consider physical activity
Sport is the best way to relieve prolonged stress and prevent its recurrence. Every form of intensive activity creates a good mood. Focusing on physical activity makes you distance yourself from your problems gain a new perspective. When practiced regularly will help you better control your emotions. What’s more you will get rid of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone. It’s important though to choose a discipline you find pleasurable and tailored to your abilities.
Change the way you think about stress
This is a method presented at a TED conference by a health psychologist Kelly McGonigal. As she said in her speech, according to the latest research, exposure to stressing factors can be very harmful, increasing the risk of death by 43%, but only in the case of those who believe that stress will actually harm them. That’s why a change in the perspective about stress alone can transform your body’s reactions into ones that do not paralyze or block you, but help you thrive.
Remember that the increased heartbeat and fast breathing you experience in a stressful situation is a set of reactions that prepare your body to face a difficult task. It’s the way your body gives you courage. However, chronic stress is unhealthy and can lead to coronary heart disease in the long term. But, as McGonial claims, those who find stress-related body reactions helpful, have their arteries relaxed, and the quick heartbeat resembles one that occurs in moments of joy.