5 Practical Tips for Staying Positive in Times of Stress
Stress is never fun, but it’s a common occurrence of life. Between the responsibilities of running your law firm, spending time with your family, maintaining friendships, and any extra commitments you may have, it may feel as if “stressed” is your natural state of being.
When you’re stressed, it may be more difficult to find the bright side of life, taking time to appreciate the small things that make your life great.
April is Stress Awareness Month – Use these 5 practical tips for staying positive even when you’re stressed to the max:
Focus on Gratitude
When you’re overly stressed, it’s really easy to get bogged down in all the little things that are going wrong.
You’ve got major deadlines looming, your phone doesn’t seem to stop ringing, and you never feel as if you can get ahead.
But did you know that taking even a little time each day to think about the things you’re grateful for can not only help you decrease those feelings of stress and overwhelm, but also make you more likely to recognize what you’re thankful for?
Take some time each day to journal about something positive that happened to you or that you witnessed in the last 24 hours. Pen and paper is best, and it doesn’t have to take a long time. Just quickly jot down what happened and how it made you feel.
If you can follow up this journaling by exercising and then meditating, even better.
After a few weeks of practicing this gratitude journaling, you should find that it’s much easier to recognize the positive things happening and maintain a good outlook, even if your workload and other life circumstances haven’t changed any.
Limit Bad News
It can seem as if you open up social media or sit down to read the newspaper and you’re barraged by all the horrible things going on across the globe.
While it’s important to keep up on the big news of the day to be a well-informed citizen, constantly surrounding yourself with the negative news can become a self-perpetuating cycle.
As you read or listen to the news, pay careful attention to how you feel. Do you notice that you’re feeling angry or upset at what you’re seeing? Is your pulse quickening or your face getting hot?
When you start to feel this way, shut down whatever you’re using to get news from and walk away. Go get your gratitude journal, or call up a loved one for a chat. Counteract the negative with something positive.
If you find you can’t help but check the news, set aside a few minutes a couple times per day to check out your news sources. Set a timer, read up, and then shut down until the next scheduled check-in time.
It’s really easy to let stress build when you’re running from commitment to commitment without a break.
When you’re busy, working lunches, hours at your desk without a break, and “I’ll go to the gym tomorrow” becomes your baseline. Running at full-speed all day long is the fastest way to lead you to those feelings of burn-out, which only increases your stress level.
Take some time each day to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? Do you need anything specific, like some more rest or to get up and move?
Plan to integrate one small change to your daily routine. Schedule a mid-morning walk break, or commit to getting up from your desk at lunch.
Some days will be better than others, but try hard to do a little something each day that shakes you out of your autopilot routine and allows you a little breathing room.
Exercise is proven to help reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness and well-being. As you move, even for light or moderate exercise, your body produces endorphins, which lead to that little mood lift you feel when you’ve finished a workout.
If you can, exercise for 15 to 30 minutes every day, even just for a walk around the block. Go for a swim, lift some weights, or sign up for a kickboxing class (Bonus: You can always pretend the bag is whatever’s stressing you out!) and get sweating.
Not only will it help improve your mood, but exercise will benefit your body. When you’re healthier and taking care of yourself, you’re less likely to get stressed, so the exercise will continue to pay off through the years.
Meditation may seem like a practice better suited to granola-eating, hemp-wearing environmentalists, but it actually can provide exceptional benefits for everyone.
Taking some time each day to quiet your thoughts, focus on your breathing, and just live in the moment helps you re-center and regain some perspective on life. If you’re stressed out, meditation can help you focus on literally breathing away the stress, a practice you can translate into your work day for those times when you feel your blood pressure begin to rise.
There are lots of apps on the market that offer guided meditation for beginners. Download one of those, or simply carve out some time every day to sit down, close your eyes, and breathe deeply.
As thoughts come into your mind, good or bad, acknowledge them but don’t dwell on them. It may be helpful to choose a word to focus on for those times when it’s more difficult to quiet the swirling thoughts.
You’ll be able to approach the rest of your day with a more relaxed, renewed feeling, ready to tackle everything that comes at you.
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Sometimes, not knowing when to ask for help can cause you stress. You’ve got documents that need to be served and defendants that need to be found, but you can’t do it all yourself.
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