Defeating Stress: 9 Tips and 50 Songs

You ever wake up feeling like you have way too many things going on in life for you to handle?


We all go through it.

Life can be overwhelming, for a number of different reasons. Trying to balance work, social life, family obligations, and everything else on your plate can make for some difficult days and stressful periods. You win some, you lose some. It's not about the circumstances, it's about how you react to them. 

This post includes a playlist of fifty songs that I hand selected to help calm down the most stressful of days. An accompanying glass of Cabernet Sauvignon is highly recommended. Unless you're at work. Or driving. Or 19 years old. The playlist is composed of 50 songs released by the likes of Soulection, Masego, Kanye West, Red Bull Sound Select, Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino, and many more. These selections coming to you courtesy of the SoundCloud digging that I do for Artistic Manifesto. Feel free to press play as you read on below.

If you like the playlist, tweet it.


When stress reaches a critical point, it's important to remember that it's still defeatable. You're still in control. You can always improve the situation. Don't let temporary situations stop you from progressing. Below, you'll find 9 practical, applicable tips you can use to manage and eliminate stress in your life.

"It's not about the circumstances, it's about how you react to them."


1. Take a deep breath. This might seem like a "common sense" piece of advice, but how often do we forget to do this in the moment? Numerous studies by people way smarter than me have proven that breathing in deep literally helps the body to physiologically manage stress. Just taking that moment to let your body physically relax will also. The American Institution of Stress explains, "breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body - it brings awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind."

2. Literally tell yourself, "it will be ok." Telling yourself it will be ok is an affirmation. It's the first step towards making that switch in your mind from stress mode to solution mode. Even if you don't feel it yet, say that aloud to yourself, and allow your mind to begin to embrace that thought. Additionally, check out LifeHack's "18 Things To Tell Yourself When You Think You're Not Good Enough."
3. Write down your to-do list, and prioritize. If you're overwhelmed, it's because you're thinking about a bunch of things you need to accomplish at once. No matter how overbooked you are, trying to do too many things at once is not the answer. If you can channel your energy and thoughts into completing one task at a time, the mental battle becomes easier. You also benefit from the feeling of accomplishment as you knock out each individual task. Figure out the things that are most important to accomplish, and get started with those, one at a time.

4. Tell people "no." I'm not advocating that you say "no" to bill collectors, or to your dog. Dogs run the world, and they'll also pee on your shoes. There are some things you have to accomplish, no matter what. What I am saying is that if you feel like you have too many things going on, it's important that you feel comfortable enough with telling people "no" when necessary.

Don't say "yes" just to avoid feeling guilty. Don't say "yes" just because you feel like you owe somebody something. Taking on work that you don't realistically have the capacity to complete won't help anyone. If people can't understand or respect that you need to take a bit of time for yourself, consider stepping back for a more extended period of time. Like, forever.


5. #StayWoke, but get some sleep. A great work ethic is indispensable to achieving extraordinary results, but balance is just as important. It might be tempting to stay up all night working to solve problems you're having, or to work on projects you've got on the way. Worry might also contribute to lackluster sleeping patterns. There are a number of factors that can keep you up at night.

That being said, it's important to remember that a well rested mind is a healthier, happier mind. Commit to getting six, even seven hours of sleep at night so that you can function much more efficiently during the time that you're awake. Check out Harvard's "Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep" for some key ways that you can get that rest in.


"#StayWoke, but get some sleep."

6. Hit the gym. Skip the selfies. Unless that's your thing. Physical activity increases your health, and improves your mood. If we can get scientific for a second, it's important to note that physical activity actually boosts endorphins, also known as the brain's "feel good transmitters." Just ask the American Psychological Association of America, or the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

7. Remember that you're not alone. It's easy to isolate yourself when stress levels are high, but it's important to remember that you're not alone in your discomfort. Your friends and associates might not be going through your exact situation at any given time, but chances are that people within your social circle can certainly relate to what you're going through. Whether they just listen and empathize with what you're going through, or actually have some tangible advice to offer, the conversations can definitely help. 

8. Avoid things and people that stress you out unnecessarily. It's important to evaluate the actual reasons you're stressed. Are there situations or people in your life that aren't for your benefit that take away from your inner peace? It's easy to be loyal to a fault if you're not careful in regards to how you expend your energy. You could be devoting excessive loyalty to a person who doesn't have your best interest at heart. You could be devoting excessive loyalty to a goal that no longer suits your interpretation of what your purpose is. You could be devoting excessive loyalty to a situation that distracts you from what's most important. Sometimes, you have to put yourself first.


"It's easy to be loyal to a fault if you're not careful in regards to how you expend your energy."

9. Control your environment. What do a messy workspace, excessive noise, an uncomfortable desk chair, and constant social media "push" notifications all have in common? They all have the potential to rank pretty high on the "annoying" scale and distract you from the work you need to be doing. They also are all (arguably) preventable. Are there elements of your work environment that are preventing you from functioning as efficiently as possible? Consider changing the things that you can so that your mind focus on the things that count.

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