When stress strikes, it’s hard to rationalize a way out of the hole it feels like you’re buried in. The best you can do is prepare in advance so that when you are in over your head, whether it’s from work, relationships, finances, or just a stalled subway car, you know exactly what to do to crawl out of that dark hole. To help you nail down a stress survival plan, we booked some time with three of the best stress doctors out there, who shared these 15 quick-hits for getting out of a maddening situation.
1. Go Outside: Fresh air is nature’s antistress medication. Use this as an excuse to set aside time for your favorite adventures, like hiking, biking, or surfing. “If you like the activity, then you’ll be more inclined to do it more frequently, which will help ward off stress," says Ari Novick, Ph.D., a therapist specializing in stress management.
2. Master Time Management: “Those who plan well tend to feel less stressed,” notes Novick. He suggests going at your tasks like this: Tackle more difficult to-do-list items early in the day, week, or month, and save easier duties for later in the day, week, or month. “We have more time and more energy earlier in the day, week, or month than if we wait until a deadline,” he explains.
3. Set Boundaries: Learn the power of saying no. “While most people like to please others, doing it too often results in overextension, which leads to stress,” warns Novick. Don’t commit to things you can’t or don’t want to do. You’ll thank yourself for it later.