Managing Stress

  1. Keep things in perspective:
    To help you manage stress try to relax your standards about the less important things in life. You don’t have to be perfect and criticizing yourself for being human doesn’t help. Strive to think in terms of “prefer”, “desire” and “choose not to” rather than “must” “always” and “ought”. Fewer rules, more options, and kinder relationships with yourself and others will help.
  2. That which you resist persists:
    When managing stress, attempting to force yourself to avoid something only makes it more compelling. Try allowing yourself to indulge or to take a risk. You may have a wonderful, joyful experience, and you may find that a single serving of your favorite desert is satisfying if you don’t have to fight so hard for it.
  3. Be optimistic:
    You will have the best results if you expect the best because we create what we expect. If you expect a positive result, you will act in ways much more likely to create a positive outcome. If you expect a negative outcome you will act in ways likely to create your pessimistic expectation. Being optimistic not only makes you feel better, it makes better outcomes more probable.
  4. Speak up:
    You will reduce stress and are much more likely to get what you want if you communicate about it directly. You can often avoid tasks that drain you by asking someone else or hiring someone else to do them. If you don’t want to do something, decline directly as soon as possible. This will manage the expectations of others and minimize your own guilt about not accomplishing tasks you dread.
  5. Schedule some fun:
    Having fun reduces stress and will make you feel better. Make plans for dinner with friends, a sporting event, a play or a weekend away.
  6. Demystify the worst cast scenario:
    Often what we imagine is much worse and more stressful than reality. Make it clear to yourself what you fear most. Most likely, just acknowledging this to yourself will help because you will realize that it isn’t that likely and that you will figure out how to survive if it happens.
  7. Make time to exercise:
    Research has shown that physical activity gives people a greater sense of well-being and helps reduce stress. A little bit of exercise goes a long way. Even a walk around the block or to the corner store will help.
  8. Listen to your body:
    Sleep deprivation, not eating enough, vitamin deficiencies, too much alcohol, drugs, or food will make you feel sluggish and can lead to depression. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water will reduce your stress, give you more energy and make the world look more manageable.
  9. Life doesn’t have to be so hard:
    Trying to force yourself to do something only makes it more painful. Do things at times of the day when you are at your best, and let yourself rest when you need it. If you need get a dreaded task done, plan to reward yourself with something you enjoy when you are done. Tell yourself you can watch television, read a book, play a game or take a nap, as soon as you’ve finished a difficult task.
  10. Stay in touch:
    Connect with people who make you feel good. Make time talk to a friend, get a massage or go to a spa.
  11. Go Inside:
    Stress and physical illness can result from or be exacerbated by unrealized needs. Do something that develops self awareness. This can be done by mediation, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, spiritual practices, keeping a journal, creative endeavors, monitoring your dreams or though psychotherapy. Knowing yourself will help you care for yourself and reduce stress.
  12. Get the care you need:
    Allow yourself to consult health care providers, financial advisors and spiritual leaders. Find a way to get some help with childcare and housework. Even if it is some way in which you share the work, it will help to have a partner. Asking for and receiving help is a great relief. It helps to know you don’t have to do it all alone.

Of course some stress is normal and we wouldn’t be as productive without it. However, too much stress is harmful and can result in medical and psychological problems. If stress continues or becomes unmanageable, help is available in many forms, including psychotherapy.