6 Great Ways to Manage Stress
We can’t avoid stress. It’s always going to be there, no matter how much we wish otherwise. We can however try to minimize our stress, by using effective stress management strategies. It’s not always easy to change the way we deal with stress, but it is doable. Learning how to manage stress takes time and persistence, but stress so impacts the quality of our life, that it’s well worth the effort.
Though you can’t completely get rid of everything in your life that causes stress, you’d be surprised by the amount you can eliminate. Identify the people, things, and situations that cause the most stress in your life. Sift out the ones you can avoid, minimize or get rid of completely and figure out what you need to do to make that happen.
- Avoid the people who cause you stress. If someone is continuously causing you stress, don’t be around them any more than you absolutely must. Remove them completely if you can. If you can’t, limit the time you spend with them. Don’t worry about what people think or if they’ll be offended. If they’re causing you stress, they need to go.
- Say no. We hear that all the time, yet we still don’t do it. Don’t accept responsibility for something that’s not yours. Don’t commit yourself when you’re already over-committed. Don’t bend your integrity to make someone else happy. Don’t take on something that causes you stress.
- Steer clear of things that upset you. If the news causes you anxiety, don’t watch it. Turn off the TV or turn the channel. Don’t argue over hot button issues. If arguing about politics or religion raises your blood pressure, don’t engage. Change the subject…
- Trim your list. Don’t do things you think you should; only what you must. Cross off tasks that don’t absolutely have to be done.
- Lighten your schedule. Don’t over commit your time and give yourself extra time in between appointments.
If you can’t avoid the stressor, change the way you look at it. When you re-frame the problem, you automatically feel some sense of control. You lower your stress, just by changing your attitude. Examine your expectations. The attitude you take and the expectations you set may actually be what’s causing the stress. There are many things we absolutely cannot change in life, but we do have the ability to change the way we react to them.
- Look for the opportunity. Try to view problems as an opportunity to learn something.
- Lower your standards. Stop setting standards that neither you nor others can possibly meet. Perfectionism is likely the largest stressor we have. Figure out what’s good enough and be satisfied with that.
- Ask if it really matters. Put it in perspective. Look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself if it’s that important. If it won’t matter five years from now, just let it go, it’s not worth the stress it’s causing you to worry about it.
- Let go of control. If it’s beyond your control, it’s a waste of your energy to stress about it. You’re endangering your health and lowering the quality of your life over something you can’t do anything about anyway.
- Accept responsibility. If your actions or choices contributed to the stress, you need to take responsibility for that. When we take ownership of our contribution to problems, we automatically lower our stress, by recognizing that we can influence the quality of our future.
Often we can lower our stress, just by taking action. When we do something, anything we impact the way a problem affects us. Sometimes it’s large action and sometimes it’s a tiny step. The important thing is that we do something to change the situation.
- Communicate your feelings. Telling people that something they have said or done upset you is often enough to make the stress more manageable. Keeping our feelings bottled up only causes problems to snowball into huge mounds of stress that are hard to overcome.
- Get support. Talk out your stress with someone you trust. Venting to a friend is very cathartic. Not only do we get our stressful feelings off our chest, but also often, the other person can provide a different perspective or suggestions on actions we can take.
- Stand up for yourself. Be proactive. Prepare ahead of time to deal with situations that you know cause you stress. Address problems as soon as they happen instead of letting them grow. Don’t tolerate criticism. Don’t allow other people to manipulate you. Demand respect.
- Change the way you do things. Look for tools that can save you time and effort. Look for a better way to handle a situation. If you don’t know how to do it differently, find resources to help you. There is so much advice available; you only need to look for it.
Good health is so important to managing our stress levels. It may be the thing that we have the most control over. Improving our physical health allows us to have the energy and stamina to deal with stress more effectively. Improving our mental health, puts us in a better frame of mind and helps us learn how not to let stress affect us so much.
- Get regular physical activity. A few sessions of exercise every week or short periods of activity every day can make a significant difference in the quality of your health.
- Use better fuel. Choose higher-quality foods. You don’t have to eliminate all of your favorites to be healthier, just substitute better whenever you can.
- Sleep more. The majority of Americans are walking around sleep deprived. It’s difficult enough to manage stress when we’re well rested. It’s nearly impossible when we’re exhausted.
- Be proactive. Go to the doctor for health checkups. Don’t just seek medical help when there’s a serious problem, visit your health care professional regularly so that you can avoid a problem before it starts or prevent it from blossoming into a full-blown chronic health issue.
Recharge your batteries
Taking the time to give yourself the attention you need is the single most effective way to manage your stress. It may seem frivolous, selfish even to put a fun and relaxation at the top of your list, but taking care of yourselves actually gives you the energy, stamina, and patience to manage stress more effectively. We get so caught up in the craziness of life that we often forget that we are actually the central force that controls our lives. Recharging is not a luxury, it’s mandatory.
- Make time to relax. Schedule time for relaxation on your calendar if you need to, whatever you need to do to make it a real commitment. Take a break from your problems, your obligations, and responsibilities just for a little while. They’ll still be there later and you’ll be better able to handle them when you’re well rested and relaxed.
- Be social. Spend time with friends and family who support and nurture you. A healthy support network can act as a shield against the effects of stress. Being around other people who are positive and upbeat can have a positive effect on your mood. Happiness is contagious. Catch it.
- Laugh. Having a sense of humor can help make you immune to many of the effects of stress. Being able to laugh at difficult situations not only releases endorphins and lowers blood pressure, but it also allows you to view problems with the lighter attitude. The ability to find the humor in life, even if you’re laughing at yourself, is a very effective way to manage stress.
- Regularly do things that nurture you, instead of drain you. Read a good book, go for a walk, listen to music, play with your pets, take a bath, call a friend, or watch a movie you love.
The bottom line is that while stress can’t be eliminated, it can be managed. If we learn to incorporate some of these stress management strategies into our lives, we can actually avoid some common stressors and learn to handle the rest in a calmer and healthier way.