Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
The Ultimate Stress Management List For Your Stress & Anxiety
Published Jul 28th, 2020 & updated on May 22nd, 2021
There are big things that can cause stress: moving, starting a new job, taking care of a loved one who is sick. But there are also little things that can cause stress: making a phone call, talking to your supervisor, driving to work. And lots of those little things happen every day. Maybe even multiple times a day. Lucky us. Because we know it’s no fun to be stressed, and because we want to help you out, we created a list. Not just any list though, THE list. The Ultimate Stress Management List.
The list is split into two parts: ‘In The Moment’ and ‘In The Long Run’. ‘In The Moment’ gives you quick strategies to deal with stress as it happens, whether it’s at home, at work, or on the go. ‘In The Long Run’ gives you long term solutions for managing stress that you can implement every day. Putting these into practice will help combat stress before it even starts and make it less likely that you have to resort to part one of the list.
Sound good? We think so.
Without further ado, The Ultimate Stress Management List.
Managing Stress In The Moment
Your alarm didn’t go off in time. Fear makes your heart sink when you realize there’s no way you can get ready in 10 minutes. You text your boss and apologize for being late. Scrambling to get out the door in time, you forget your phone at home.
You hit the road and after no more than 5 minutes of driving, traffic is at a standstill. ‘NOT TODAY, WHY TODAY!’ you yell at the bumper in front of you. You know you’re going to miss your 9:30 meeting and after a lifetime of digging in your purse, you realize you forgot your phone. F**k.
Just as you get to the office, the clients are leaving the meeting and your boss gives you a sympathy smile that tells you two things. One, this was your chance. Two, you blew it.
You get through the rest of the day and finally make it home. Defeated.
Here’s what to do.
Stress management 101. It’s ok to cry. It’s good to cry.
Crying is known to be a good release for pent-up emotions and stress. Friends, it literally detoxifies the body.
Did you know that oxytocin and endorphins are also released, which are feel-good chemicals that lift your spirits?
And not only that, but if you dig further into research on the parasympathetic system (PNS) you’ll learn that crying activates it and becomes a great mechanism to self-soothe.
One more fact about crying: it doesn’t have to be a sad cry either! Crying is actually about restoring emotional balance, which is why we also cry our hearts out when we’re extremely happy.
Keeping everything bottled in isn’t healthy, and at some point, you’ve just got to let it out. You’ll feel like a million bucks after. Well, we don’t know what a million bucks feels like, but we guarantee you’ll feel better than before.
2. Hug Someone
One hug can go a long way. Lean on family members or friends (pun intended) when you’re feeling overwhelmed; that’s what they’re there for. If you don’t have anyone to hug in the moment, a pillow or a sweater will work just fine too.
Alternatively, you can also go to a cat cafe and let the furry angels hug you or volunteer with an animal shelter and get your daily hugs from the pupperinos.
3. Take A Deep Breath
You’ve probably heard this before but there’s a reason for that – it works. Simply pausing to take a few deep breaths can help you refocus and feel less stressed.
60 seconds of breathing can calm the mind.
60 seconds of breathing can lower an accelerating pulse.
60 seconds of breathing can slow a panic attack.
Count out the seconds in your head as they’re passing by or put on a timer and try to clear your head.
What we don’t recommend is doing this exercise while staring at your screen background of Chris Hemsworth. That will not slow down your breathing. We repeat, that will not help you focus your breathing.
4. Listen To Music
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop what you’re doing, pull out your headphones, and listen to a song or two. Music has so many benefits for mental health including releasing tension, reducing stress, and increasing positivity. Try some classical or instrumental music if you want to relax or some upbeat music if you need motivation. Or choose a song that takes you back to a happy time in your life. Music is powerful – use it to your advantage.
5. Go For A Walk
If you’re hard at work, you may not realize how long you’ve been sitting. Try to get moving every once in a while, even if it’s just a walk to the bathroom or around the office. Getting away from your workspace will help clear your mind and you’ll be more productive when you return. Get those steps in people!!
6. Take A Break
No matter what you and your coffee might think, you do need a break sometimes. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and are starting to get frustrated, it’s a good sign that you may need a break. Try to put your task down for a bit and do something completely different. When you’re ready to come back, you’ll be so much more productive. Trust us.
Visualization is a helpful stress-busting technique to use when it feels like everything around you is contributing to your stress. Allow yourself to relax by visualizing a peaceful place or situation and letting yourself stay there for a few minutes. Visualization is a great tool because you can do it anywhere – at home, at the office, on the train – just maybe not while you’re driving.
8. Talk It Out
Simply having someone to talk to about what you’re going through can do wonders. Whether it’s a trusted friend, family member, yourself, or your journal, verbalizing what you’re feeling is the first step to addressing it. Plus, your friend will probably know just what to say to make you feel better.
Managing Stress In The Long Run
The biggest decision of your late twenties lies ahead. Do you take the new job that requires you to move across the country?
And how do you make that decision? Your family is here and they obviously want you to stay. You kind of want to stay too because you love them and you love your friends. But you know your current role doesn’t have much room left for growth and you’re ready for a new challenge.
After weeks of pros and cons and talking and debating, you make the decision. You’re going! Sweet relief, you finally made the call.
And after a short period of excitement, the stress settles back in. You have so much to do. So many things need to get planned and a billion other decisions need to get made.
More questions pop up than you have answers for. Like your relationship with your partner, which is clearly going to be affected by the move. What’s that future going to look like?
To help you handle the anxiety and stress you’re facing, we’ve compiled our best (tried-and-tested) stress management techniques:
There’s no way we could get through a post about stress without mentioning journaling. Journaling is an incredibly powerful tool and can help reduce stress by giving you an outlet to explore your thoughts and emotions on a regular basis. Even better, it’s completely free! 12/10 would recommend. Download the DiveThru app to get started today.
2. Stay Organized
Staying organized means spending less time searching through piles and piles of missing documents, items, and emails. That means more time to focus on tasks that really matter. That means more productivity at work. That means, you guessed it, less stress.
3. Do Something That Makes You Happy
Pick up a new hobby or return to an old pastime. Having something to look forward to can help ease stress and be used as a break during busy times. Plus, maintaining your hobby over a long period of time can help keep balance in your life.
4. Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle
Exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep are all key factors in managing stress and avoiding burnout. When you feel better physically, you will feel better in all other aspects of your life, too.
But do you actually know anyone who has a perfectly healthy lifestyle? Who sleeps the right amount every single night, exercises just the right amount and eats a perfectly balanced diet?
Nope, we don’t either.
We know this is really hard to achieve in reality. So be flexible in how you achieve your healthy lifestyle! If you didn’t have time to work out today, go for a 10 minute walk and breathe in some fresh oxygen. Had a bad sleep last night because you were up working late? Well tonight you’re going to commit to unwinding before bed with yoga or journaling.
Perfection is overrated and we’re not here for that.
5. Practice Gratitude
A daily gratitude practice such as a gratitude journal can provide positivity during dark times. Focusing on what you’re grateful for helps train your mind to see the positive first, which leads to increased happiness in the moment and in the long run. Plus, when you’re feeling stressed, you’ll be able to read through old entries in your gratitude journal to cheer you up.
6. Practice Self-Compassion
Negative self-talk makes stress even more difficult to manage. On top of the stressful situation, you have to deal with yourself making comments like, “Why can’t you handle this?” Not helping, self! Instead, try something like, “I know you’ve got a lot on your plate, but you’re doing your best.” Practicing self-compassion means treating yourself like a good friend. This positive self-talk will help you feel more supported in all aspects of your life, including during stressful times.
You can’t always avoid stressful situations. For example, you likely can’t go through your entire life without making a phone call.
But if you can figure out the cause of your stress, you may be able to prepare for it and make it more manageable. Here are some examples of common daily stressors and ways you may be able to prepare for them ahead of time:
Phone calls: have notes prepared for what you want to say
Commute: leave early so you won’t be rushed and have some tunes to accompany you on your journey
Tests: get there early and bring water, snacks, and something that calms your nerves (e.g. stress ball)
Job interview: do your research and wear a lucky bracelet/socks
Going somewhere new: talk to others who are familiar with the location and plan your route ahead of time
Overwhelming amounts of work: make a checklist or use a planner to keep track of and prioritize certain tasks
Walking alone: let someone know where you’ll be, plan a route that stays in popular areas, and use resources or buddy systems like Safewalk to accompany you to your destination
By taking small steps to prepare ahead of time, you can make a stressful situation a lot more manageable.
Well, there you have it. The Ultimate Stress Management List.
With these suggestions in hand, you’ll be promoted to your new role as Manager of Stress in no time.