Sometimes just thinking about controlling stress can be stressful. Some people are so stressed that they don’t know what the absence of stress or a calm mind feels like. But the good news is that you do have some control over your response to some common stressors.
These tips can help you personalize a plan that can empower you when dealing with certain stressors in your life:
- Tense? Regular exercise (20 to 30 minutes each day) can help keep tension at bay. Exercise not only improves physical functioning but also helps the brain process better. A daily brisk walk is all you need. Getting a massage or soaking in a hot bath are other great ways to relax and relieve tension.
- No time for stress relief? Pare down your schedule one day a week to make time to practice a relaxation technique. Dedicating a few minutes to practice can make a big impact on controlling your stress. You may have to try out a few techniques before you find the one that works best for you, but over time the relaxation response will become more natural. This will give you some insight on how to slow down and pay attention to the task at hand.
- Overextended? Decipher what is truly important and essential to accomplish on your to-do list and determine which tasks may be able to wait. Try crossing at least one thing off your list. Consider getting help with everyday chores like cleaning the house and mowing the lawn if that will help clear your schedule for other activities you feel are a priority. And there’s nothing wrong with bartering services or ordering groceries online.
- Pessimistic? If you tend to focus on your weaknesses and always think of the worst in every situation, it is time to turn things around. Don’t let the negative thoughts drag you down or stop you in your tracks. Instead take charge and push through the self-doubt. Start by accepting that you may have had a negative result from a past experience, but acknowledge that this is a new experience and it can have a positive outcome. Rethink the situation by giving way to the negativity.
You may also want to create a list of reasons you have to feel grateful. Refer to the list when you’re feeling down. If your list seems too short, ramp up your social network and add creative, productive, and leisure pursuits to your life.
- Lonely? Connect with others. Even brief conversations with a neighbor, colleague, or an old friend can boost your mood. You may find that you need to seek more opportunities to connect with others. Why not volunteer or attend religious or community functions? Call a friend or relative that you haven’t seen in a while. Ask an acquaintance to coffee or lunch to get to know them better. Sign up for a continuing education class – you’ll meet others who share in your same interest.
- Always running late? Take advantage of time management principles. Think through your priorities and delegate or do away with any unnecessary tasks. Map out your day, activity by activity, setting aside time for each task. Allow yourself an extra 10 to 15 minutes travel time to get your destinations. A daily planner can help you prioritize your tasks. Plan ahead for the next day’s events and activities by packing up everything you need ahead of time.
Don’t let your stressors leave you feeling powerless. Try some of these tips to help you take charge and feel in control. Embrace what works for you and use it at every opportunity.
Living Well: Stress