Our behaviors shape our world — and our health. When one thing goes wrong, it all seems to go wrong and we can find ourselves overwhelmed with stress and anxiety.
Negative behaviors are often reactions to negative factors in our environments. Just one negative external can snowball into a whole slew of problems.
Take for instance your sleep.
One bad night of sleep equals a rough day at work. That rough day at work becomes a bad attitude that leads to you skipping that gym routine or stopping for that cheeseburger on the way home.
Bad circumstances and lead to bad reactions which lead to bad behaviors. Those behaviors then go on to impact every facet of our lives — our health included.
Stress and anxiety are a common underlying factor to many of the health and lifestyle problems we experience. We respond to stress with negative behaviors that damages our bodies and minds. Low self-esteem, social isolation, self-stigma and outbursts of anger are all ways we react negatively to stress and anxiety in our environment.
So how can we conquer these responses so that we can master our day? Simple. There are a few (professionally backed) strategies that are proven to help you conquer your stress levels and your day.
The 5 Steps that Will Help You Conquer Your Day and Your Stress
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you’re someone that struggles with a lot of stress or anxiety, the first thing you need to learn is not to be afraid to ask for help. If you’re someone who likes to do things on your own, this can also be a real challenge.
Chances are (no matter what you’re doing), you’ll find a helping hand waiting to give you whatever you need. The trick is, you just have to ask. This can be especially hard when your brain is constantly telling you the opposite. DON’T LISTEN. Whether it’s a friend, family member or even a healthcare provider, reach out to someone if you feel like you need help with a task or feeling.
Struggling to conquer your day? Ask someone to help you. If you know a day is going to be particularly trying — ask for help ahead of time.
2. Learn to love failure like a friend.
We’re raised to think that failure is a negative thing.
Spoiler alert: It’s not.
Everyone fails. Every day. All the time. Life is full of setbacks and failure and — until you learn how to accept that — you’re going to find your life packed full of negative behaviors, anger, stress and anxiety.
Learn to love your failures like a best friend. Every day. Every way. Accept that you’re a human being, filled with all the foibles common to man. You’re going to slip up and get set back. There’s just no way to avoid that.
Never be embarrassed or ashamed when things don’t work out the way you want. Instead, take it as an opportunity to learn what worked and didn’t work and try, try again.
3. Give yourself time to react before you act.
Stressful situations happen every day. When you encounter these situations, take a time-out and take a few deep breaths before you act on your feelings.
Separating yourself from stressful situations allows you to take time to assess the situation and your feelings about it. Often, our first impressions are emotional ones and not necessarily true. By taking a beat, you give yourself time to realize that, and also give yourself time to come up with the best possible response.
Think about what you can do to help (and hinder) the situation. If you can resolve the stressful situation in healthy manner — do it. If you can’t — don’t. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t escalate the stress, and walk away from anything that is dangerous to your physical or mental well-being.
If you’re dealing with someone or something that is out of your control, try to find a way to prevent them from affecting your overall wellbeing. If you can, remove them from your circle entirely so you can get on with your day in the best possible way.
4. Look at obstacles as learning opportunities.
This goes hand in hand with learning to accept your failures.
If you want to strive to conquer your day every day, you need to see the learning opportunities when they present themselves.
We usually see obstacles as just that — obstacles. We do everything we can to avoid them, and when they happen we do everything we can to extricate ourselves from them as quickly as possible; minimizing our discomfort.
Learn to see obstacles as opportunities to learn.
It is the most difficult moments in life that have the most to teach us. If we were to live lives free of adversity, we would remain the same self-centered children we once were.
Stressful situations or situations that make us anxious have an uncanny ability of revealing strengths we didn’t realize we had. Sure, it reveals weaknesses too, but it’s better to be aware of our weak-points than ignorant of them.
Open your arms to change like a lover and embrace it. Take the things that set you back and learn what you can from them. Let them become the things that make you great rather than the things that make you sink.
Build your resilience by learning to love your fear.
5. Decompress every day.
You’re going to get stressed every day. Unfortunately, that’s just a part of life.
Find a way that you can decompress every single day so that you’re refreshed and ready for the next day ahead.
There are all kinds of ways you can decompress. Even if you have the busiest schedule in the world, there’s something you can do to relieve the stress and anxiety that plagues you every day.
Schedule at least 15 minutes of “me time” for yourself each day no matter what. You can spend that time walking, reading a good book, meditating, doing yoga or taking a relaxing bubble bath. Taking this kind of time to look after yourself won’t only allow you relieve stress, but it will also help you develop healthier habits.
It’s important not only to decompress, but to feel mentally and emotionally capable when you wake up each day. To do this, you need to physically decrease your heart rate and blood pressure, which can be done by engaging in peace-inducing activities that lull you into a sense of peace and comfort each day.
BONUS: An exercise to help you beat that daily stress monster
Giving you that above points is all good and great, but how can you put them into practice?
If you want to conquer your day every day — stress and anxiety be d*mned — then try breaking your day down into encouraging mini-missions.
How they work:
- Set yourself 3–5 miniature “missions” or tasks throughout the day. Keep them simple like: 1) Write in a journal. 2) Workout for 10 minutes. 3) Meditate for 10 minutes. Only list tasks that take about 15 minutes and (ideally) list tasks that contribute to your emotional well being and peace. (If you’re feeling particularly strong, 20–30 min tasks are okay too.)
- Pick one mission. Stand up, stretch and move around for 5 minutes. Get yourself as pumped for the mission as you can. Play music if you need to. Jump around, dance around. Clear your workspace and dive in when you’ve reach maximum amped-ness. (If you don’t feel silly at first you aren’t doing it right.)
- Work on the “mission” with as much focus and enthusiasm as you can must for 15 minutes. Set yourself a timer. Don’t focus on anything other than the mission. When the time goes off, the mission ends. No excuses. Pencils down.
- When you’re done, reward yourself — whether you finish the task or not. Celebrate your victory, because that’s one more victory you didn’t think you’d have under your belt today. Dance around, sing like an idiot if you feel like it. Bounce and throw confetti. You’ve conquered one mission. How many more can you beast through? How many more rewards can you give yourself in a day?
Repeat this several times a day (up to 5 times) and keep a journal of your progresses, rewards and successes. If you accomplish all 5 mini missions in a day, give yourself an extra big reward.
You can use missions to make miserable tasks fun, or to make fun tasks even better. However you do it, make sure to take note of the things that help or hinder your missions and your success.
Putting it all together…
Life is scary and it’s hard. We’re confronted every single day with situations that make us react negatively and form negative behaviors that reinforce our stress and anxiety. This stress can have a negative impact on our health and it most definitely impacts the quality of our lives and relationships.
Conquer your day every day by learning how to banish stress and anxiety. Embrace your setbacks and learn to see obstacles as learning opportunities rather than disappointments.
When something bad happens, learn how to take a step back and take a few deep breaths. By giving yourself some space you can assess the situation honestly and make the best decisions for you and your mental and emotional well-being.
Stand up for yourself and ask for help when you need it. If you have a particularly big day ahead of you, reach out to friends and family ahead of time and make sure you have the support system you need to get things done.
Above all, find a way to decompress — every single day. Take 15 minutes for yourself and spend that time doing something that makes you feel good. By relaxing your mind and your body, you can relieve stress and boost your health and productivity.
Stay focused and stay strong. Things might seem hard now, but remember: they’re hard for everyone else too. Keep your head up and your heart open. Things are going to change. They always do.