We face it constantly — at work (College & Personal), at home, in various life situations. And if we don’t know how to manage it right, we will probably struggle with anxiety and be unproductive at work.
So here are the five techniques I used to manage stress.
1. Morning Journal
This is a technique I’ve been using for over three years, and it’s freaking golden.
Every morning, I write two things:
Brain dump — all thoughts, feelings, and experiences I want to write down.
The goal for today — one main goal that I have to achieve today, no matter what.
I do it every morning for 5-10 minutes, and by the end, I feel completely different. My mind is calm.
If you reflect and write everything you have on your mind (what you are stressing about), you will procrastinate less throughout the day and think less about that one problem you have.
I recommend starting with the “brain dump” type of journaling three times per week in the morning to see how it goes. Then you can do it on a daily basis.
When I feel under stress (e.g. I can’t find a solution to some coding problem), I often go for a 15- to 20-minute walk and the solution often pops up in my head. I don’t take headphones. Just simple walking. Pure magic.
I’ve noticed that when I’m doing something else, like watching videos on YouTube during my break, I feel more stressed and anxious a couple of hours after. Also, after walking in nature (forest/lowland water), I feel better than anywhere else.
So try what works for you.
3. Right Breaks
Previously, I used to just put on my headphones and code for eight hours — almost straight. But I don’t do that anymore. After such “hard work” sessions, I feel tired and more stressed. Now I operate in another way.
Our brain works best when we go hard, then rest. And it’s not going hard for hours and then resting for days. It is about going hard for 50-90 minutes, then taking a break for 15-22 minutes.
But these are not “normal” breaks like people are used to (e.g. checking Instagram/Facebook or reading the news). I am talking about the “right” breaks. These include completely opposite activities.
During such breaks, I often do three things:
* Hydrate * Stretch * Walk
And what I’ve noticed by doing those three things is that I feel more relaxed, more focused, and I can work for 8+ hours without feeling like crap (brain fog) at the end.
So add breaks to your working routine. This technique is a productivity gem for coders.
4. Flight Mode
I used to think that notifications on my phone and computer didn’t matter. Yes, they distracted me in some way, but it was nothing critical.
I was wrong.
Checking notifications every time they pop up on your screen forms a bad habit called the “fear of missing out.” I started to feel like I needed to know what was going on. Every time a notification appeared, I would instantly click on it and stopped whatever I was doing.
Nowadays, I turn off all notifications for four hours so no one can distract me. For that period of time, I often complete my big goal for the day.
At first, it was difficult because I constantly wanted to check what was going on in the world. But I’ve noticed that I stopped worrying about it. Now I feel more focused and less anxious. It is funny how such a simple thing helps me manage my stress.
So turn off notifications and tell people to not distract you with unimportant stuff during your working hours.
5. Clean Desk
Not an obvious one, but a clear mind is linked to a clear environment.
I notice that when I have a messy desk, I have a problem finding a solution to coding problems. It takes more time and I feel more stressed about it. But when I clean it, I watch the stress melt away. The environment no longer distracts me. My mind is clear.
This technique takes me one minute and I feel a huge benefit from it.
Clean your desk every morning or before going to bed.
In the End
Those are the five proven things I do on a consistent basis in order to keep stress levels low. In addition, I recommend establishing good habits like a healthy diet, getting eight hours of sleep, and working out three or four times during the week.