There are numerous things in life that contribute to our stress level. Some things can be controlled while others are simply put…out of our control. Either way it’s not the stress that causes an issue it is our reaction to the stress.
How can I change my reaction you might ask? There are simple answers however implementing them is not always easy.
How to change your reaction to stress
- Determine what is within your control
First of all determine what is within your control. For example are you stressed because you have over-extended yourself? Can you simply get out of some of the activities you have taken on? Do you constantly volunteer then wish you hadn’t?
At one point in my life I was involved in several clubs, committees, and I worked about 60 hours a week. I was completely stressed out because I didn’t have enough time in the day to accomplish all I wanted to and had obligated myself too.
- Evaluate and control the uncontrollable issues
Then evaluate and identify the uncontrollable issues like a boss that you don’t see eye to eye with. Frankly the boss probably isn’t going to go away so you have to do something on your side to work thru this stress.
Maybe your spouse’s job makes them unavailable to help in the home or with children. Whatever the stress is…identify it.
- Make a list and take note of all stressors
Make a list and note all stressors separated by uncontrollable and controllable stress. Then begin devising a plan to make change in your life. You may want to back up and drop a few activities. You may need to develop a plan to deal with uncontrollable stressors.
It is also good you use a journal to track your stressors. Take note of the situations that get you stressed up and your response to it.
Write down the environments information, your feelings, thoughts, circumstances, people and generally, how you reacted to those stressors. The notes can assist in you in dealing with your stressors.
Effective tips for dealing with stress
Some great things I have found to relieve stress are as follows:
Tip#1: Deep Breathing Exercises
At least 10 breaths in and out. You hold that deep breath as long as you can then exhale…slowly till all breath is gone. Do this in the morning…right before or during a stressful moment.
Tip#2: Take a Hot Bath
Now I realize some men are opposed to a bath vs. a shower however, a bath is more relaxing. Dim the lights, light a candle. Put some nice fragrance in the water.
Exercise is a great stress reliever. Go for a walk, play a game of racket ball or tennis, get on the treadmill or bike. Whatever it is do something physical (sex included).
All forms of physical activity causes decrease in stress hormones production. It also causes increase in the good feeling endorphins production of the body.
Tip#4: Positive Reinforcement
Thinking positive thoughts, saying them out loud, surrounding yourself with a positive environment…nice pictures, flowers, things you like and colors that are soothing…pastels are best.
Reach out to your friends and family as they can offer great support. Most times, older friends and family members might have gone through what you are passing through at the moment.
Tapping into their support system will be very useful. They can offer ideas and suggestions that can get you back to your goodness. It is always advised that you reach out to people that can offer support when in stress than handling it alone.
Talking to someone has two basic functions; they ease the already built up tension that causes stress and also distracts you from the thoughts that cause stress.
Tip#5: Eat properly
A high fat, high carb diet is only going to acerbate your problems. Eat a diet high in veggies, grains, and protein. Mental foods!
Stop excessive snacking as stopping it can have positive effects on you. It boosts health which in turn gives the required strength and liveliness to handle stress.
Tip#6: Rejuvenate Yourself
Take time out once a day or week that is just your time to do what you want. Go to a movie, play golf, read, practice your instrument, etc….Your special time for rejuvenating.
Tip#7: Get enough sleep!
Sleep deprivation is one of the worst things we can do to our bodies. The best time for your body to rejuvenate is between 11pm and 2am so if you go to bed at midnight you are missing some rejuvenating time.
Also at the minimum six hours is needed to feel rested. And oversleeping is not good…it depletes our energy.
Chronically stressed persons are basically those who usually have inadequate sleep they also suffer from stress related insomnia.
To improve and encourage falling asleep, make it a habit to prepare one hour before your bedtime. You can read a book you enjoy, meditate, listen to a music that calms you down etc.
Also, try as much as possible to maintain a particular sleeping time. This is so that your body system will get used to it and then adapt to the routine.
Tip#8: Set boundaries
The list of your stressors which is already prepared will help you set boundaries. They are certainly many of your daily commitments that are really important, these commitments cannot be avoided.
However, they are other commitments that can be left out. They can be left to be done by other people or left entirely because they are not so important. Not accepting more commitments than you can handle is a very good way of handling stress.
Generally, learn to say ‘no’ to what you know can stress you out. For instance, you have little time and you are given too many tasks to complete in that very little time and obviously, undertaking that task will stress you, rejecting it is a good way of reducing potential stress.
Step#9: Manage your ‘To Do’ list
The commitments that cannot be left out can still stress us if they are much and not done with plan. Everything cannot be done all at once.
The list of things in your ‘To Do’ list needs to be done in order of priority. Start doing those things that need immediate attention and leave then others that can come afterwards.
The task should be broken down manageably and spread out to be accomplished in days, weeks or even months considering their nature and priority. Simply put – manage your time!
Step#10: Device management
Device management is another useful step in managing stress. It has been observed that people who are always on social media and constantly checking on their mails have a great deal of stress.
In this regard, it is advisable to give yourself and your device a break. Make a decision to not go online every evening or on weekends.
Step#11: Seek professional assistance
If after doing all you can to deal with stress and you still feel stressed out, it is then time to seek help from professionals.
Psychologists or other mental health professionals can help a great deal because they received training to help you in dealing with stress and generally improving your health.
Step#12: Turn away from alcohol, nicotine and caffeine
When alcohol is taken in small quantity, it acts as a stimulant but when taken in large quantity, acts as a depressant. Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants that can increase stress level instead of reducing it.
Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine are not helpful ways of reducing stress. Instead of taking them, try as much as possible to drink water, natural fruit juices or even herbal tea. They will definitely keep you hydrated as this will help reduce stress.
Refined sugar should also be avoided. These refined sugars can be seen in many manufactured products like bread and so on.
What refined sugar does is to crash with your energy and this will make you feel tired in no time. As a rule of thumb; maintain a balanced diet and eat healthy at all times.
At some points in life, everyone gets stressed. It is unavoidable because no one is a robot. What matters is what you allow stress do. Do you allow stress deal with you or do you deal with stress? You can handle stress effectively by going through this article.
Hope there is something beneficial that you have learned from this article. Remember to take care of you!
Darla G. Dawald This article may not be copied or reproduced without sole permission of the author. Send your request, comments, and questions to [email protected]