Stress is highly contextual. Most of the time, stress tends to increase incrementally. Bills, overdue assignments, meetings with friends, and a host of other stuff will pile on slowly, before it reaches a tipping point when the minor inconveniences are converted into raw stress. I would assume this is the case for most working men. I am grateful that my day to day job, though confined to a 9 to 5 routine, still affords me flexibility and is not consistently stressful. Much of my stress comes from extracurricular commitments I do on the side. Trying to maintain a balancing act seems impossible at times.
Ignore the stressful nature of the activities I am involved in until they are finished.
We all have different coping mechanisms when it comes to stress. Some will time their vacations when their stress level spike. But for those of us with daily stress-inducing responsibilities, this is not really a viable option. Normally, I will try and not focus on the stress itself, and allow my busyness to take over to just focus on the task at hand. Essentially, I try and ignore the stressful nature of the activities I am involved in until they are finished. As a short-term solution, this works quite well.
But stress can never be completely shut out. Over time, it will creep and gradually overwhelm you if consistently ignored. These peak periods, when I feel a simultaneous combination of fatigue and strife, are also moments of reflection. Sometime the pace of life is so hectic is drains one of the necessary mental energy to move ahead. More than anything, I would like a pause on life, just to get my bearings.
Look at your stress from a new perspective, not eliminate it.
I try and rationalize my stress to myself. Surely my commitments and my perceived pains pale before the struggles of the laborers across the world who wonder if they can make ends meet. Once I take in how privileged I am in the global context, I feel somewhat chided for making so much of a fuss about matters of mere time management.
My goal for stress management is not to eliminate stress. In my view, a certain amount of stress is good for you- to keep you alert, action-oriented and on your toes; to try and live your life while completely avoiding stress is a futile endeavor. Instead, I try and locate those spots during the day that are whole reserved for me, to sit back and soak in the finer points of life.
Find your daily delight
In my case, my daily delight is to find a dusty history book, lay on the coach and sip a cup of earl grey or green tea. For the working man, the portion I can reserve in the day for this is usually in the morning after Fajr, but it can also be at home after dinner when I just want to unwind. The feeling of the crispy pages between my fingers and the comforting aroma of the tea help my mind relax and set forth on a journey through the annals of history. Okay, maybe every day its not quite so dramatic, but you get the picture. The point is that these pockets of time during your daily routine are vital in the long run, and let your stress-filled days become that much more bearable. Don’t let your stress, stress you out so much.