Two Women Share Their Best Advice For Managing Stress

CC BY 2.0 Marina del Castell

CC BY 2.0 Marina del Castell


By Katherine Martinko & Margaret Badore | Tree Hugger

This article is from TreeHugger Town & Country, a bi-weekly series that compares and contrasts modern green living in a city and a small town through the lens of two twenty-something women. Katherine Martinko is a stay-at-home mom with two little boys in the town of Port Elgin, Ontario. Margaret Badore lives with her boyfriend in a 400 square-foot apartment in New York City.


There’s a lot of advice out there for things you can do to de-stress: take a hot bath, go to a yoga class, go for a walk or a workout, sit for mediation, keep a gratitude journal. I’m sure all these things work for some people, but for me, they’re just another thing on my to-do list.

They’re all things to do, and having more things to do doesn’t really address the source of my stress, which is all the tasks I juggle on a daily basis. For me, the only way to really reduce stress is to get to work and cross things off that to-do list, which is sometimes a physical list that I write out and sometimes just a set of tasks in my mind.

But there’s one key thing that helps me prevent getting that oh-my-god-there’s-so-many-things stressed out feeling. It’s staying present.

For me, staying present is a way of acknowledging that I can only do one thing at a time. It’s a way of saying, ok, I can’t do everything at once but I can make progress towards one thing. And that’s the best I can do. It’s a lot harder to feel overwhelmed when you’re focused on getting something done, often for me that’s reporting or writing, but it also applies to things like errands and chores. And staying present for good things, like hanging out or relaxing, can make those times feel richer too.

I don’t always succeed at this. Sometimes I still get stressed out, the list seems too overwhelming or the dread of a particular task builds up more than it should. But usually, the best way of dealing with the negative feelings around something I don’t want to do is to just get it over with. Many of the tasks I put off the most are in fact not so bad when I’m doing them. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I try to re-focus on the next thing that needs to be done—without thinking about the rest of the to-do list.

It’s OK to fail sometimes at managing stress. It can tell us when something is wrong or can motivate us to work harder and make necessary changes. I often try to use that stressed-out feeling as a chance to take a step back and look at what’s bothering me. And so often, the answer is that I have a lot of things competing for my attention and energy, and I just need a gentle reminder that I can only do them one at a time.


I don’t consider myself to be a high-stress person, but there are a few things that always manage to ramp up my blood pressure and make me irritable. One is not having enough time to get my daily writing done for TreeHugger. Another is when I’ve had enough of my two little kids and feel done with parenting for the day. Finally, I get stressed when my social calendar fills up too quickly.

If one or all of these things hits me at once, my performance plummets in all areas. I become less focused while writing and it takes me far longer to finish a post, which exacerbates the already-present stress. I become less patient with my kids, which they sense and react negatively to. And I definitely have less fun going out and meeting up with friends when all I really want is to be at home.


Photo Source: CC BY 2.0 Marina del Castell

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