Feeling Overwhelmed? Learn These Stress Management Strategies

Updated October 5, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Throughout life, it’s normal for us to experience stress from time to time. There are difficult life situations that we all have to go through which can lead us to feel stressed. But if you don’t learn how to identify and address the stress that you experience in life, excessive stress can have a negative impact on you in the short-term and long-term, including impacting physical and mental health through things like increasing blood pressure, decreasing immune system function, poor sleep, anxiety, and putting you at greater risk of developing serious illness. This is why it’s important to learn stress management strategies to help you stay healthy.

Signs you need stress relief

Ready To Learn Valuable Stress Management Techniques?

Some people are great at spotting stress in their life. They know how to recognize it when it’s coming on and they can feel the difference in both their thoughts and body. However, some people are so used to feeling stressed that they don’t notice the feeling to be abnormal. Learning how to recognize the signs of anxiety, stress, and overwhelm is an important first step to being able to get help in this area.

According to Cleveland Clinic, some of the signs of stress include:

  • Trouble sleeping/poor sleep
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion
  • Muscle tension
  • Exhaustion
  • Changes in appetite
  • Teeth grinding

This is not by any means an all-inclusive list of symptoms. If you notice physical or mental symptoms in your life that you have not experienced before, it’s important to address them with your physician. They can help you identify if it’s stress causing the symptoms, or if there’s another underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Why you need to learn to manage stress

Stress is a part of life. Everyone experiences stressful situations from time to time, and people deal with stress in different ways. While it may not look the same for everyone, it still impacts your health in a negative way. Chronic stress can lead to heart disease, memory impairment, and depression.

It can also impact the way that you deal with people, including family and partners, which can cause relationship problems. When you feel stressed you may find that you have less patience and struggle to handle situations that you normally would be able to handle with ease.

The following tips to manage and relieve stress can help you learn to handle stress better, in healthy ways, so it doesn’t get the best of you. As an added bonus, all of these can be considered methods of self-care, too!

Stress management strategies

  1. Learn the root cause of stress in your life

You may feel that your job is causing stress in your life. However, if you look closer, you may find that it’s not your job as much as a lack of skill that you have around your job. You may actually have a great job that you would truly enjoy if you just spent some time improving your skills.

This is why it is important to identify what’s causing you stress. It’s not the obvious cause but the reason behind what seems obvious. Once you know what the root cause is, you may be able to start to learn how to address that specific area. If you aren’t able to identify the cause of your stress, create a list of what you are liking and not liking about the stress. Hone in on what is in your control currently, to manage what you don’t like about it. You could also utilize your support network and reach out to trusted loved ones for some social support and any insight they may have.

  1. Meditation

Meditation is an essential stress management technique to use if you are struggling with uncontrolled thoughts and an overwhelmed mind. Meditation is a way to help you focus your attention and gain awareness of how stress impacts the body.

Meditation also teaches you awareness and builds more tolerance of the stress as you learn to confront it differently during meditation. Meditation has been known to aid in reducing stress. It is recommended to work with a trained provider that can help you process ongoing life difficulties while you learn techniques inspired by meditation.

If you’ve never tried meditation before, there are many apps that you can consider using that would walk you right through the process and teach you how to do it. Try multiple apps until you find the one that connects the best with you. Particularly if you’re new to meditation or have a hard time focusing, it’s often best to meditate in a quiet place.

  1. Deep breathing

When you begin to feel overwhelmed and stressed, you experience physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate and shortened breaths. These physical responses that you have actually cause your stress to build up.

However, deep breathing is a simple stress management technique that you can use to combat this, which can also be known as belly breathing. When you focus on taking a few deep breaths, it can help slow your heart rate and relax your muscle tension. This in turn can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system and slows the stress response that may be making things such as concentrating more difficult.

One of the best things about deep breathing as a stress management technique is that you can do it anywhere. If you’re sitting in the middle of your crowded workplace, you can take a few moments to focus on the practice of deep breathing in order to help lower your stress levels. You can do it in a way that no one will notice what you’re doing.

Additionally, you can combine deep breathing with positive self-talk to help essentially coach yourself through the stress, relax a bit, and feel calmer and more confident while allowing space for a more positive attitude.

  1. Learn to manage your time

Sometimes overcoming stress is as simple as learning how to manage your time better. If you have a schedule that keeps you running from morning till night, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and experience burnout. This can quickly become an unhealthy way to live as stress can continue to grow.

Learning how to overcome it is as simple as learning how to control your schedule and allow yourself breaks in the day to rest and recharge. It may be that you need to look at cutting certain things out of your day if you’re overbooked. Or, it may be helpful to look for tasks that you can delegate to someone else. This could even include something as simple as hiring a lawn care service to maintain your yard for you so it’s not one more thing on your list.

  1. Journaling

There are a number of ways that journaling can help you manage stress and feel less overwhelmed. It provides you with a way to get your feelings out of your head and onto paper. As you do this, it can help you to prioritize your thoughts and identify any actions that you can take to address problems.

Journaling also helps you to begin identifying the things that are causing stress in your life, which enables you to get to the root of the problem. And sometimes, your stress journal can just be an outlet for you to brain dump all of the things that you are anxious about. Sometimes seeing things on paper has a way of taking some of the fear away. Plus, spending time on giving yourself the space to be introspective and open about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences can be incredibly rewarding and can result in some potentially surprising (or at least previously unknown) realizations.

  1. Make a list and prioritize your day

Along with time management, it can be helpful to prioritize the tasks that you need to complete. Start by making a list of everything that you’re trying to accomplish. Then look at the list and choose the things that need your attention first. Some people even like to rank their activities by order of importance.

Once you can see your priorities on your list, then you can schedule your day in a way that allows you to address the most pressing issues first. Simply knowing that you have a plan for your day can help you to feel less stressed and overwhelmed because you know what actions to take at what time. And as you see things being crossed off your list, it can help you to feel like you’re accomplishing the things that you need to. This can also help to lower your stress level.

  1. Do one thing at a time

For years, people thought that multitasking was a good thing. Now, people are starting to realize that it’s hard to do your best work when you’re trying to do more than one thing at a time. If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, you may find that you’re falling in the trap of multitasking.

Make sure that you’re only focusing on one task at a time. This will allow you to work more quickly on the task because your brain is not having to constantly jump back and forth from more than one subject. As you focus on only one task, it can help you work through your list faster and accomplish more in the day.

 8. Get some physical activity

Exercise and physical activity are great ways to help burn off excess stress in a constructive, natural way. Exercise, of even just going for a walk, helps release feel-good hormones, improve sleep, lower stress and help you cope with stress, and provides a whole host of other benefits, as well! Incorporating some exercise into your everyday life, whether it’s yoga, hiking, rock climbing, walking, swimming, weightlifting, or dancing, is wonderful for both mind and body. According to the American Heart Association, chronic stress is associated with a plethora of bad side effects, including depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, headaches, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Luckily, getting some exercise can help with all of those, including getting better sleep! As an added bonus, focusing on deep breathing not only helps your body power through the activity, but naturally reduces stress, as well. Plus, it’s much harder to focus on negative thoughts when you’re trying to balance in a yoga pose, lift a challenging weight, or you see a gorgeous sunset on a walk!

  9. Eat a healthy diet

It really cannot be understated just how much the food that we eat impacts us both physically and mentally. Ensuring that you’re obtaining the nutrients that your body needs can make all the difference in your moods and how well you function mentally and physically throughout the day. Try to eat a balanced diet; this doesn’t have to mean cutting out all “bad” food, but rather focusing on moderation. If you want some ice cream, go for it! Just maybe consider topping it with some fresh fruit instead of that rich chocolate syrup laden with sugar and artificial preservatives. Junk food may taste good, but because much of it is heavily processed, the nutrition that it offers is significantly lower quality and of much less use to your body than whole, more natural foods like fiber-rich grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and so on. If you hate cooking, that’s ok! That doesn’t have to be a part of your everyday routine. It’s possible to eat out but still make healthier choices. You could also choose one day of the week that works for you to do some grocery shopping and meal prep, that way you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to eat each or going to the store during the week when you’re already busy and likely stressed from work and everyday responsibilities.

Still need help to reduce stress?

Ready To Learn Valuable Stress Management Techniques?

If you’re still continuing to struggle with stress relief, you may want to consider talking with a therapist. There are many different techniques that you can use for stress management. If you’re still struggling, it may be helpful to talk with a professional.

There are many different types of stressful situations that you may face in life. And if you’re not experienced in that situation, it could be hard to know what stress management strategies can help you work through it. This is where a therapist, such as the licensed therapists at BetterHelp, can assist. An experienced therapist is capable of helping you find the root cause of where your stress is coming from. From here, they will devise coping strategies and relaxation techniques to learn how to work through your stress in a healthy and effective way. A therapist is not a psychiatrist, and many cannot legally provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment beyond the therapy techniques that they are licensed and qualified to utilize. However, there are many different types of therapists and psychologists here at BetterHelp who are ready and available to help you with stress reduction and management or anything else that you might be dealing with, such as depression, road rage, trauma, or anything else.

While stress in life might be inevitable, it doesn’t have to be something that you stay stuck in. Living in overwhelming and stressful times can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health. But with the help of a therapist and the right stress management strategies, you can learn to overcome it in a healthy way.

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