What are your indicators that stress may be getting the better of you?
There are many different types of stress management strategies to from to deal with life’s stressors. Some strategies help you reduce your physical stress response in the moment and assist in helping you calm down and return your body to a more normal, non-stressed state. Other strategies focus on long term stress management and are related to lifestyle and health habits that help reduce the physical impact of stress , as well as the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects.
Here are a few strategies to help you:
- Deep breathing. This can range from taking ten deep breaths to participating in yoga or learning to meditate.
- Learn how to say no. Know your limits and stick to them. This is important in both your personal and professional life.
- Avoid people who really stress you out. If a person constantly causes stress in your life, and you have tried to speak with them and can’t turn the relationship around, then you need to think about maybe limiting the amount of time you spend with that person or maybe ending the relationship.
- Take control of your environment. If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer less traveled route. If going to the supermarket makes you anxious or you just hate to do it, try to do the majority of your shopping online.
- Avoid hot button topics. If you get upset by discussions involving religion or politics then don’t bring them up. I would like to see people be open and discuss these issues, but sometimes it is not possible because people get so escalated and angry that they cannot hear another perspective or be open to the conversation. If this happen,s take these topics off the list when engaging with certain people. This may be the time to seek out a therapist who can help you facilitate a conversation.
- Shorten your to do list. What is that one thing you have to get done today? Look at your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you have too much on your plate, identify the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Eliminate the tasks that are not truly necessary to do. Move them to the bottom of your list for another day or just eliminate them.
- Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If someone or something is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open, caring, and compassionate way. Start with I sentences and know that it is important to voice your feelings, because if you don’t and you continue to push things under the rug, then resentment will build up and the situation will remain the same.
- Be Willing To Compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, you need to be willing to do the same and listen. You need to listen and understand where each of you are coming from. What is your position? If you both are willing to lean into the situation and bend a little, you will have a better change of finding a middle ground.
- Manage Your Time Better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. I know sometimes I come home and want to veg out and sit down and watch TV and do nothing else. But then where did the time go? Maybe it is better if I put a limit on my time watching TV and do other things that are important to me. Because if we have many things to do, and we are stretched too thin with time and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused and present. If we plan ahead and make sure we don’t over extend ourselves, or if we learn to use our time wisely and plan time to relax, then we can alter the stress we are under.
- Take time to quiet yourself when feeling stressed. Remember self-care. Use techniques to quiet and relax yourself. Take a hot shower or bath. Listen to soothing music. Take a personal time out for 15 minutes and sit quietly. Find other activities that will help you return to a more positive and peaceful state of mind.
Learn to adapt to what you are experiencing:
- Reframe your problems. Try to view your problems from a more positive perspective and ask yourself what you are learning from this experience.
- Look at the bigger picture. Take perspective of this stressful situation. Yes, some stressors like death, illness, loss of relationship, job change, money, etc can change our life, but we also need to know that some stressors may not be that important in the long run. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over. If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
- Adjust your expectations. Sometimes we all try to be perfect and especially if you received messages growing up about always doing things right. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Be kind to yourself. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others and learn to be okay with this is “good enough”.
- Focus on what is good and be grateful. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the good things you appreciate in your life. I don’t mean it has to be the big things, something small. Be grateful for the phone call from a friend or the smile on the person’s face at the checkout counter at the market. Or the beautiful weather outside. I tend to do this in the evening when I am in bed and think of at least 3 things that I am grateful for. This simple strategy can help keep things in perspective.
Some sources of stress are unavoidable. Life is impermanent and things happen. We don’t like that we have to accept the things we cannot change. We can’t prevent the death of a loved one, a serious illness, and many other things. The best way to deal with these stressors is to accept them. I know this is easier said than done, and I have experienced with family and friends many difficult situations. I had to face the pain of what what was happening in my life as they occurred, but in the long run, I had to learn to be resilient and realize that it’s easier than fighting against a situation that we can’t change.
- Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control and beyond our understanding and particularly the behavior of other people. Focus on the things you can change, such as the way you choose to respond to problems.
- Look for the Upside. When you face major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. Learn to take time to reflect on the situation and how in the future you might make a similar situation better.
- Share Your Feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist. Expressing what you are going through is very important. As I have mentioned, it is important to express our needs even if we can’t alter or change the stressful situation. We have a chance to share what is bothering us and sometimes getting a different perspective can be helpful.
- Learn to Forgive. Accept the fact that none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, and we are trying to make this journey of life with some understanding and meaning for the time we are here. Let go of the anger and resentments that cause us so much pain, both emotional and physical, and hopefully you can free yourself from constant negative energy by forgiving and moving on. LIFE IS SHORT. WAKE UP!
Here are a few more things you can do:
1. Be assertive about your needs, don’t assume people know what you want.
2. Get organized and focus on what is truly important to you.
3. Express yourself in emotionally healthy ways.
4. Use humor appropriately.
5. Take care of yourself is not a one time thing. This is a lifestyle change and consists of proper nutrition, rest, exercise, having good social ties with others, and being always kind to yourself with love , compassion, and acceptance.