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‘Heavy is the head that wears the crown’, and ‘With great power comes great responsibility’, are some of the prettier ways to talk about stress.

But let’s get real—stress is inevitable and not exactly pretty. Whether you’re a working professional, a businessman, a student or a homemaker, every role, no matter how fulfilling, comes with responsibilities that will weigh you down at some point or another. To add to that, living in an urban jungle where the cars are many and the greens are few also affects our health and stress levels.

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Everyone has their own way of unwinding at the end of a tough day—you may choose to smoke a cigarette (even though that’s avoidable), finish an entire bowl of ice cream (which is okay occasionally) or flip channels on TV. The real question here is how much stress is too much stress? More importantly, what can you do about it?

Like most people, if you’re not one of those brave souls who can quit their job and give up their responsibilities to live a simple serene life on a beach (kudos to their courage), these tips might be a good start to deal with your skyrocketing stress levels:

Prioritise and make a realistic daily task list

You may have 20 things to do, but not all will be as important as some. By trying to do everything in one day, you’ll compromise on productivity and increase your stress when you can’t do it all. So, prioritise the most important tasks for that day and focus on only achieving those. When you set realistic tasks and actually manage to tick them off at the end of each day, this useful practice will become addictive.

Prepare for a long day the night before

Doesn’t it happen that you’re stressing so much about things to do the next day, that even regular morning chores like ironing your clothes or packing your lunch seem too much? By making preparations for these smaller tasks the night before, you’ll automatically feel lighter and more ready to take on a long day.

Balance high-focus work hours with total rest hours

It’s only fair that fully focused hours of work are balanced out by some time to unwind and reenergise. Putting this into practice would involve some basic time management tricks. Let’s say you have a concentration span of 45 minutes. This should imply that you get at least 15 minutes of rest to disconnect, eat a snack, take a walk or call a loved one. Don’t feel guilty about your time off; it’s only meant to keep you productive and sane.

Deactivate on the weekend

Finding a good work-life balance is key to ensuring that stress levels during the week don’t get the better of you. To completely deactivate yourself from work over the weekends, avoid taking work-related calls and switch off email notifications. Spend time with your friends and family and give them your uninterrupted attention for those couple of days. You could even devote time to a hobby or get away for the weekend.

Pillars of productivity: food, sleep and exercise

One of the most important requirements for a productive mind is a productive body. The three pillars of a productive body are nutritious food, sufficient sleep and exercise. Slacking on these three will do you more harm than good. So aim to eat low-sugar, unprocessed foods, get a good night’s rest and make time for that run, swim or yoga session.

Stress can’t be avoided, so all it boils down to is how you manage it. You might say many of these tips have been written about before, but acting on them with as much dedication as you pursue your work goals is what will help you sail through life with minimum stress.

Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar

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