Stress is everywhere and you may seem like there’s nothing you can do to stop stress. As the bills keep coming, the errands pile up and career and family responsibilities that are demanding, you start to feel your stress levels going up, up and the very feeling of being stressed out can add emotional stress on your already stressed out mind and body. The truth though is that you have a lot more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management.
Stress management is all about taking charge: of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal of stress management is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.
Identifying the sources of stress in your life is the first important step of stress management. Your true sources of stress aren’t always obvious, and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Example is workplace stress: Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines. But maybe it’s your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that leads to deadline stress.
To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses. Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining stress, your stress level will remain outside your control.
Here are some stress management techniques for coping with stress:
Stress management techniques #1: Avoid unnecessary stress
Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. But there are a number of stressors which you can eliminate such as:
Learn how to say “no”. Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress so know your limits and stick to them.
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 with that person or end the relationship entirely.
Take control of your environment. If the evening news stresses you out, turn the TV off. If traffic’s your source of stress, take a longer but less-traveled route.
Avoid hot-button topics. If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list so you don’t experience emotional stress.
Pare down your to-do list – Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks and drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely so you don’t feel stressed out.
Stress management techniques #2: 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. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
Stress management techniques #3: Adapt to the stressor
If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
Stress management techniques #4: Accept the things you can’t change
Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.
Stress management techniques #5: Make time for fun and relaxation
Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come.
Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.
Stress management techniques #6: Adopt a healthy lifestyle
You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health. Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, reduce your caffeine and sugar intake, avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, and get enough sleep.
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