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How to Handle Stress

A Beginner's Guide

If you're reading this you're probably feeling overwhelmed. Most likely even procrastinating on something. Well, let me tell you, you're not alone.

Like many motivated people, you're feeling bogged down by the stress and expectations of this world, perhaps even wishing all the strings attached to things you don't actually want to do would go away. 

In times like these, amidst the eye strain twitching, coffee breath, and bad hygiene I refer back to my steps to destress. 

1) Take a deep breath.

Cliche, I know. However, this is scientifically proven to relax you even if just a little bit. I know some people that meditate for a minute or pray or even just think of their favourite things. Maria from The Sound of Music had it right when she said, "When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favourite things and then I don't feel so bad."

2) Jot down your stressors.

Is it home chores? Homework? Relationships? Whatever the case may be, write down the sources of your stress so you can literally see them listed out. This will help empty your mind and prepare you for how to eliminate these factors. 

3) Prioritize your stressors.

Yes, I know, the garage does need cleaning out and you're feeling the anxiety just by thinking about it but does that take highest priority on your list? I think not. Try to figure out what's going to get you in hot water if you don't finish it first. Being a student, I often thought my tasks by thinking about who would be the most upset, and how that would affect me, if I did NOT finish the task.

4) Eliminate what you can.

At this point, some people would tell you to make microscopic lists of each detail that needed fulfilling. I'm not that person. Realistically, ain't nobody got time for that. Instead, now that you have your goals in mind, think about the easiest thing you can do right now to get closer to eliminating that stressor. Think of things in baby steps. 

When my room's a mess and I can't even see the floor, I push aside the paralyzing anxiety and just make the bed. It doesn't even need to look pretty. Doing just one small thing can work to ease the burden.

5) Take it one day at a time.

"This project is due next week. My boss needed this done yesterday. I need to give the cat her medication in 42 minutes, and I need to go for an oil change three days from now."

Calm down. Some people would tell you to do a little bit of everything everyday, but if you're anything like me, you know that doesn't work. 

In an ideal world where people are always organized and mature, you would have a planner listing everything from when to blink and when to pee. This is not that world.

Instead, think about what is due first. Do that. As humans we often feel overwhelmed because we think so far ahead. Focus on the now.

6) Delegate!

Can you get anybody else to do anything on your list? In times of desperation I have bribed my siblings to do tasks I don't have time for (cleaning my room, laundry, etc.), all for the sake of completing the things only I can do (work, projects, etc.). 

It's ok to ask for help. In many cultures around the world, there is the common belief that "two heads are better than one."

7) Sleep. Eat. Repeat.

You'd be surprised by how much taking a break to sleep or eat can calm you down. You might be thinking, "I don't have the luxury of time to do that." Wrong. Think about it, your body is the priority here. 

Drink water!

Dehydration has so many negative effects. You can trust me, I've googled all my symptoms and read through MayoClinic and I can tell you, it's not good. If you can't remember when you last slept or ate, you need to make your health a priority. 

Fact: when you're in a healthy mindset, and state of being, you become more productive.

8) Wake up earlier.

Personally, when I have an overwhelming amount of work to finish, I wake up early. Like, three AM early. Now I'm not telling everyone to do that but at least try to wake up earlier than usual. 

I've tried the "staying up late to get everything done" method and it is exhausting. Realistically, your brain is at peak performance in the morning, not when it's already had to work the whole day. 

Kick start your day in the quiet of the morning before the rest of the world wakes up, and I guarantee you'll feel more accomplished knowing you've already gone through half your to-do list before the rooster "cock-a-doodle-doos."


Remember, it's ok to ask others for help. Also keep in mind that if you actually want to get stuff done, you need to sacrifice your distractors. Yes, that means social media, television, socializing, and doing idle tasks in an attempt to avoid what is really the priority. 

In the end, even if you don't complete everything keep in mind that your wellbeing is the most important. All the people that expect things from you and are pressuring you to meet deadlines would rather you be alive, than dead. 

So breathe, follow these steps, and you'll undoubtedly get closer to feeling less overwhelmed.

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