Wednesday, July 8, 2015

6 Tips for Managing Stress, Dealing with Anxiety, and Enjoying Your Life

As I promised, I'm going to be doing a few more wellness posts here and there. After a very stressful week segueing into a relaxing weekend away with family and friends, I felt ready to share some of my easy ways to make sure anxiety and stress don't rule my life.

Swinging and Forgetting Your Troubles

Most of the time, I love my fast-paced, jam-packed life and career. Doing the kind of legal work I do is tremendously rewarding, but it’s also challenging, high-stakes, and sometimes heartbreaking. Squeezing in time for blogging, calligraphy, exercise, family and friends, and all the million little things that need to be done to make life run smoothly can be overwhelming.

I am a fairly high-strung person who has had a very active imagination since childhood. I’ve suffered from bouts of anxiety since I was a teenager, and over time, I’ve developed some relatively simple coping mechanisms that really help me bring my anxiety level down, assess my priorities, get shit done, and enjoy my life.

Admit to yourself that you are overwhelmed

Sometimes I get into a pattern of feeling a growing sense of apprehension without really realizing it. I try to pay attention to those feelings now and let my conscious mind realize that I’m feeling overwhelmed and need to step back and address it. The first step to coping with anxiety is realizing it’s about to bubble to the surface.

Neaten your space

Having a desk strewn with files and papers piled on the floor of my office makes a stressful day and a long to-do list feel impossible. The same goes at home—it’s hard to clear my mind when I have to clear a spot on the table to start a calligraphy project. It’s difficult to drift off to sleep when I have unpacked bags, a cluttered room, and laundry to put away.

Spending a few minutes tidying up my space does wonders for tidying up my mind and helping me to refocus. As I’m removing those files from my desk, I can prioritize them. They stay on my desk in a neat vertical file caddy for immediate action, go into an appropriate “action pile” on my bookshelf, or are placed in my filing cabinet if no action is needed for a couple weeks.

Pretty Desk Clutter

Do a short meditation

Ten minutes of mindful reflection and deep breathing without distractions can do wonders for me when I am keyed up and stressed. Learning to meditate has been a new journey for me, and I have really been liking the Headspace app for its short, guided meditations for beginners. With the guided exercises loaded on my phone, I can take ten minutes at my desk during the day or in bed at night and calm my racing mind.

Do the one thing on your list that you’ve been dreading most

Take the time to make a realistic to-do list, ideally after spending a few minutes tidying or meditating to help your mind disengage from the stress cycle. Then, take some deep breaths and start on that thing on your list that you’ve been dreading most. Whether it’s making a difficult phone call, writing a brief, or just attacking the pile of dishes in the sink, getting that one “worst thing” done gives me a sense of accomplishment, and most importantly, helps to relieve that apprehensive feeling.


I know that everyone says this, but exercise truly does help to lessen anxiety. Weather-permitting, I like to get out and just run until my worries settle into a more manageable place in my head. I have gotten a lot of emails and comments asking about my workout routine, so I’ll work on some posts about how I like to exercise and how I make sure to incorporate it into my crazy schedule.

Spend a few minutes with a furry friend

On the days when I feel ready to fall apart on my commute home, I always make an extra effort to be 100% in the moment when I greet my dog at home or pick him up from daycare. His sweet, sincere excitement at seeing me helps put my worries in perspective. When we go out for a walk, I try to focus on him and his enthusiasm about the world around us. I let myself get immersed in playing with him, and it usually staves off that acute panicky feeling, letting me step back and let in positive thoughts.

My "Therapy" Dachshund

I hope these tips are helpful to you all. I’d love to hear about your techniques for managing stress and anxiety in the comments! My thought is that the more coping mechanisms you have in your repertoire, the easier it is to employ one that works for your particular situation.

Hope you’re having a great week!

x, Tam


  1. Thanks for this post! I love how doable your suggestions are. More posts like this please!!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I'm working on a few more wellness-related posts, so stay tuned in the coming weeks.

  2. It's really refreshing to hear this, as someone who struggles with occasional anxiety, too. You've inspired me to try meditation, which I've been putting off. I find it helpful to think of the next five seconds, rather than all those things I need to get done at once. One thing at a time is a mantra I say to myself.

    1. That is so true. Breaking it down and doing one thing at a time is a great strategy!

  3. I am the first one to admit that i have major stress problems and one of the main things that helps it is by cleaning everything around me! I feel so much better once that is done.

    1. I spent my weekend organizing my closet--it's such great stress relief! Tidy workspace = tidy mind :).

  4. Yoga is the best of helping me manage my stress. But I also love the easy escape of getting into the kitchen and taking the time to cook something. Usually healthy food is the best- it makes me feel better inside and out!
    Julia // Little Miss Haute Couture

    1. Love the idea of getting into the kitchen. I am not a great cook, but I like to help my husband in the kitchen or make simpler things myself. I'm still working on eating healthy--it really does make you feel more balanced inside and out! Thanks for sharing!


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