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4 Simple Strategies to Manage Stress in the New Year

Note: some of the resources/links below may be affiliate links, meaning I get paid a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.

 

When you are planning and strategizing for the New Year, it can be easy to become overwhelmed.  I know you’ve got your business plans under control. I want to make sure you’ve also planned for how to be successful next year without sacrificing your health or losing your mind!

Here are 4 strategies to manage the day-to-day stress that gets in your way!

 

1. Connect to your values.

There are things that you value about the work that you do or specific situations.  Knowing and connecting to your values can help you manage stress.

You might value helping people or serving.  You might value your independence. You might value connecting with like-minded people. 

Values can also be things that are important to you like family, friends, your pets, a safe and warm house, or security.  Values can be qualities you think are important like love, kindness, honesty or authenticity. Values can be actions like charity, hard work, giving, or caring for others.
 

How to connect to your values to manage stress:

Try to figure out why you are experiencing stress in reaction to a specific situation, and to what value that might correlate.

Some examples:

  • If you are stressed because your computer won’t do what it’s supposed to do, it might be because you value your time and efficiency.  Now you’re not a crazy person yelling at your computer - you are someone who values your time and efficiency.

  • If you are stressed about spending too much time at work away from your family, it might be because you value being a good Mom, providing for your kids, and your family.

  • If you are stressed about a nasty email you just got, it might be because you value kindness, being respected, authenticity, and being valued.

  • If you are stressed about money, it might be because you value providing for your family, hard work, and security.

  • If you are stressed about work in general, it’s usually because you value being good at your job.

When you shift your focus away from the situation and onto WHY you are reacting, it can be much easier to manage that stress in the moment and get back on track.

Try it!

Consider some of the things that you know will probably stress you out (because they have in the past) and create a plan to focus on what you value in that situation.  Then, when it happens again, you are ready! 

When experiencing a stressful situation, ask yourself:

  • What is it that I value in this situation?
  • What value is being threatened?

Shift your focus away from the situation and onto what it is you value.  It gets you out of your head and back in the game.

 

2.What can you control?

When you feel as though you have more control over a situation, it helps to manage stress (it can also make you a better leader and help you to be more productive at work).  While not always possible to exert control over every situation, stress researcher Robert Sapolsky states, “a sense of control works best for milder stressors” (p.404, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers). 

Shift your mindset to consider:

  • What can you control? 
  • What can’t you control?
     

Let’s break down a situation: 

Carol is super-stressed about going to a family dinner.  She loves her family, but feels they can be critical of her life in unkind ways.  And also, she’s a vegetarian and this event is all meat all the time. What a mess!

  • What Carol CAN’T control: 
    • What other people do and say
    • How they react to her
    • What other people think about her
    • What happens overall
    • What is cooked for dinner
  • What Carol CAN control: 
    • Carol most likely knows some of the general themes of comments her family will make towards her (lucky Carol!), she can go in prepared by deciding ahead of time what she would say in response or how she will react - she can even practice it.  Even if it doesn’t happen, she will feel more prepared and in control.
    • Carol can eat some awesome veggies before dinner to make sure that rolls will be enough! Or she can bring some of her favorite veggie dishes for everyone to try.
    • And finally, sometimes it’s OK to say ‘NO.’  In this scenario, Carol could opt to hang out with friends, enjoy a day of self-care, or binge-watch all of those Netflix movies she keeps wishing she had time for.


You have more control than you think!
 

 

3.Have a plan for coping

All of us have things we do to cope with stress.  It’s different for everyone, and it varies by situation.  We all have things that really work and some things that we just do out of habit.

It used to work:

For me, watching Friends on Netflix was a go-to stress management tool - but I didn’t even really enjoy it anymore, it was just something I did when I was stressed.  It was a habitual reaction to stress that used to make me feel better, but evolved into doing nothing for me.

It does work:

For me, actually physically leaving the house and going out to the movies is a stress coping mechanism for me and it almost always works!  Also, I’ve also noticed that if I get some physical activity in, going to a yoga class or for a walk, that also almost always reduces my stress - more so than my preferred habitual method of sitting on the couch looking at Pinterest.  It turns out being social helps me to manage stress, even though I’m introverted - so hanging out with friends is a great option too!

These are just some examples and I’m guessing you have your own things that really help you to cope with stress, and then the things you’re just doing out of habit that don’t help as much as they used to, if at all. 

What coping strategies actually work for you? 

Which ones don’t?

Make a plan to do more of the ones that work
and put them in your calendar.


How I plan:

When I know I’m going to have a stressful week (like during finals week or a course launch), my schedule is literally packed with yoga classes and movie dates with friends to help me buffer the stress that I know is coming!

 

4.Just say NO

This is your brain - this is your brain on stress…..unfocused, lack of concentration, racing mind.  How can being busy and overwhelmed affect your health? In addition to increasing stress, it can impact your sleep, your emotional states (irritability, impatience), and your mental state (less focus, concentration).  Details here.

Doing less is probably the easiest stress management tool ever.  You literally just do less. I am very intentional about what I say yes to now, because when I’m more focused on my goals then I’m more successful.  I’ve finally gotten to the point that I don’t say yes to things that I don’t want to do (even if I should). I choose my mental health over what other people think I should do.  It’s not always an option - we still have to go to work - but when it is an option - I say no to that. I don’t isolate myself, I just decide where I want to put my limited energy.  I get to decide how I spend my time. Why am I spending it doing things that I don’t enjoy with people I don’t really like? What else can you say ‘No!” to? Check out this list.


Need help prioritizing and planning?  I couldn’t do anything without my Passion Planner.

These are just 4 tips to manage your day-to-day stress. Check out my 3 Part Series on how stress is impacting you - physically, emotionally, and mentally - AND what to do about it!

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