Managing Stress in a Stressful World

Becoming aware of the causes of stress in our lives and some powerful tools to help cope

October 10, 2014

Have the burdens of daily life and the current economic climate put you on edge lately?  You aren’t alone.  People are losing their jobs, homes and relationships.  Many of us have seen our investment portfolio take a nosedive. If we are to successfully deal with our own stress levels, we must pay close attention to its causes while learning how to recognize the effects stress has on our physical, mental and emotional beings.  Learning to handle what comes our way on a daily basis may be a challenge, but there are tools we can use to minimize the effect stress.

There are techniques available to help maintain optimum health. Many of us get wrapped up in our daily routines and we forget to take the time to step back, relax and breathe. By paying  attention to the body’s stress indicators such as fatigue, forgetfulness, aches, pains, insomnia, headaches and irritability, we can then make the necessary life changes to manage or lessen the impact stress has on our body and mind.

Minimize your stress by incorporating the following tools into your life.

1. Change the Situation. Work on changing what you can and accepting what you cannot.

  • Try to reduce major life events and daily hassles to a manageable level.
  • Set short term goals and develop reasonable action plans.
  • Learn to say “No” without feeling guilty when you are unable to do things.

2. Change Your Mind. If you look at a situation as stressful it will be stressful.

  • Do a reality check: Are you seeing the situation for what it is?
    Use self-talk: Give yourself positive affirmations and messages.
    Develop and stay connected to a support system with family and friends.
    Develop ways to deal with your feelings (e.g. writing in a journal, psychotherapy).
    Think positive of yourself as one who can meet the challenges.

“By paying  attention to the body’s stress indicators such as fatigue, forgetfulness, aches, pains, insomnia, headaches and irritability, we can then make the necessary life changes to manage or lessen the impact stress has on our body and mind.”

3. Change Your Body. When you can’t solve a situation or change your thoughts, use these skills to change the   effects of stress on the body.

  • Deep breathing: Sit or lie in a comfortable position, breathe slowly in through your nose into your belly and out through your mouth – do this repeatedly to calm your body down).
  • Use visualization: Close your eyes and visualize a person, place or thing that you love very dearly and concentrate on allowing the feeling of love flow through your entire body).
  • Meditate (Sit or lie in a comfortable position, concentrate on your breath, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. If any chatter starts to enter your mind – put them in an imaginary jar, seal the lid and put it on the shelf – say to yourself I don’t need to think about this until later).
  • Journal (Take a notebook of some kind and write down all the concerns of the day and end your writing with what you are grateful for in your life).
  • Exercise (Aerobic exercise stimulates hormones that release happy chemicals called endorphins).
  • Biofeedback (A devise to help people relax and re-educate their muscles which may reduce hypertension, stress and pain).

4. Maintain a “Wellness” Lifestyle. (Build up your resistance to stress.)

  • Develop a healthy way of eating by avoiding the intake of chemical and processed foods.
  • Avoid any stimulants like caffeine.
  • Exercise daily.  (Stretching, aerobics and yoga)
  • Avoid smoking, recreational drugs and excessive alcohol.
  • Listen to your body. (Rest and sleep when tired.)
  • Practice energy-saving tips. (Prioritize what needs to be done, plan ahead, pace yourself and problem-solve to find solutions to your challenges.)
  • Do things that make your heart smile.

We may not be able to control the current economic climate but we can be proactive in self-care by using various tools to manage our stress.  Through the decision to implement just some of the life strategies above, we can empower ourselves to live happier, healthier and more productive lives.

 

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