We are all striving for a more balanced and less stressful life, to include time for work, family, relationships, relaxation, and fun. Managing stress is about taking charge of our thoughts, emotions, schedule, environment, and the way we deal with problems.
Do we make excuses for coping with stress? Do we explain away stress as temporary “I just have a million things going on right now”. Do we blame our stress on other people or outside events?
Our stress level will remain outside our control until we accept responsibility for how its been created. Sadly unhealthy coping tactics may only temporarily reduce stress and cause more damage in the long run, such as:
- Drinking too much
- Overeating or under eating
- Zoning out for hours in front of the TV
- Withdrawing from friends, family and activities
- Using pills or drugs to relax
- Sleeping too much
- Filling every minute of the day to avoid facing problems
- Taking out your stress on others
Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. We should try to experiment with different strategies and focus on what makes us feel calm and in control.
Learn to say “no” – Whether in your personal or professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to reaching them. Taking on more than you can handle is a definite recipe for stress.
Avoid people who stress you out – If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend together.
Take control of your environment – If traffic gets you tense, take a less-traveled route. If going to the supermarket is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online.
Pare down your ‘to-do list’ – Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.
Alter the situation – If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future.
Express your feelings – If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same.
Manage your time better – Poor time management causes stress. When you’re overstretched and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. Plan ahead, making sure you don’t overextend yourself.
Make time for relaxation – With a take-charge approach and positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. Regular time for relaxation will put in a better place to handle life’s stressors as they crop up.
Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy and stimulate your ‘feel good factor’ endorphins.
Keep your sense of humor – Laughing helps your body fight stress in many ways.
Deep breathing – Reduces high blood pressure, raises energy levels, relaxes muscles and improves physical performance. It also helps release tension and reverse the body’s fight & flight reaction to stressful situations.
Massage therapy – Often viewed as a luxury, this hands-on healing is terrific for removing blockages and improving quality of sleep as well as dealing with stress, headaches and muscular pain.
Aromatherapy isn’t just for spas… Inhaling lavender or rosemary can put you into a more relaxed state. These aromas help lower your levels of the stress hormone Cortisol.
There are few things you can do to impact your life more powerfully and profoundly than learning how to cope with everyday stress. All you need to do is take the first step by taking enough time to slow down and relax.
Annie Moore MCThA, RCCA, ITHMA at Vidatherapy Spa. www.vidatherapy.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.