Stress is all around us and affects us every day. Here are some easy to use methods for coping with stress.
Stress, it’s all around us! All day long we are exposed to stress, stress at home, stress at our jobs and, at least here in San Diego, even stress at the beach. Things happen to us, a loved one dies, someone kicks sand in our face, we’re fired from a job or someone cuts us off on the freeway. These and lots more things cause us stress and we all know that type of stress and how it makes us feel.
This type if stress is known asdistress. It is the most commonly-referred to type of stress and is know to affect us negatively. This type of stress raises our blood pressure, sends all kinds of chemicals through our minds and bodies and, if continued for long periods of time, can result in anxiety or depression.
The second type of stress is less obvious and is know as eustress.Eustress is a positive form of stress. This is the stress you go through during positive events in your life, getting a promotion at work, getting married or buying a new house. These events are desirable but, just like distress, eustress can be equally taxing on the body, and if added together with other stressors can also have negative results on our health.
When it comes right down to it, stress can be triggered by how we work or even relax. We don’t have to have some major triggering event to cause us to be “stressed out” we can even be stressed out even when we’re bored! Since stress is unavoidable it is important to find ways to decrease and avoid stressful incidents to decrease our negative reactions to stress. Like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast, life is basically a routine to follow. The following are some things you can add to your routine to reduce or even prevent stress.
Time management skills are probably one of the best methods of reducing stress while allowing you more time with your family and friends. They can also possibly increase your performance and productivity.
To improve your time management:
Focus on what you are doing at the moment.
Delegate what you can.
Schedule time for yourself.
Keep a log of how you spend your time, including work, family, and leisure time.
Prioritize your time by rating tasks by importance and urgency. Focus your time to those activities that are important and meaningful to you.
Manage your commitments by not over- or under committing. Make sure you commit only to what is important to you.
Use a day planner and break large projects into smaller ones then set short-term deadlines. This will overcome inertia and procrastination.
Examine your beliefs to reduce conflict between what you believe and what your life is actually like.
Build Healthy Coping Strategies
Identify how you cope with stressors. Log any stressful event and write down how you reacted and what you did to cope with the stress. You can use this information to change unhealthy coping strategies into healthy ones-those that help you focus on what you can change or control in your life to make your life more positive.
Your behaviors and lifestyle choices affect your stress level. Although they may not stress you directly, they can interfere with the ways your body seeks to relieve itself from stress. Here’s some things to do:
Determine your purpose in life.
Balance your personal, work, and family needs and obligations.
Since your body recovers from the stresses of the day while you are sleeping get plenty of sleep!
Eat a healthy diet to give you nutritional fortification against stress.
Limit your consumption of alcohol.
Refrain from smoking anything.
Social support can help moderate stress. Your family, friends and your community comprise your social support. This support gives you the knowledge that you are cared for, loved, esteemed, and valued. Research shows that there is a strong relationship between social support and better mental and physical health.
Change Your Thinking
When an event triggers negative thoughts, you may experience fear, insecurity, anxiety, depression, rage, guilt, and a sense of worthlessness or powerlessness. Often we relive these events and emotions over and over in our minds. These emotions trigger our body’s stress, just as a real threat does. Developing coping methods to deal with, and eliminate your negative thought patterns and the way you see things can help greatly reduce stress.
Thought-canceling can stop a negative thought to help eliminate stress. When you have a negative thought tell yourself, “cancel, cancel” and image the negative thought leaving your mind.
Examine your thoughts and ask yourself, “What’s the worse that can happen?” then decide if you can live with that. Once you look at what the worst case event might be you’ll probably recognize that it won’t happen. This will help you to avoid exaggerating the negative thought and interpreting an event incorrectly.
Think! Problem solving helps you identify all aspects of a stressful event and helps you to find ways to deal with it.
Change your communication style. This can help you communicate in a way that makes your views known without making others feel put down, hostile, or intimidated. This reduces the stress that comes from poor communication.
One of the best methods of dealing with stress is to use positive visualization techniques. One way is to anticipate stressful situations and visualize how you can positively deal with them. This is called positive rehearsal which, by the way, is very different than most people deal with stressful situations. Most people visualize the worst possible outcome of a situation, such as “She’s going to be angry about this” and go in with both barrels blazing. Using positive rehearsal you can avoid this type of stress. For example knowing that you will have to talk with a teenager about her grade in algebra you image yourself recognizing her positive achievements in English and history. Then you image yourself asking what you can do to help her improve her algebra grade. You see yourself brainstorming with her and coming to a mutually agreeable solution. This is a very positive and powerful method of using your imagination!
Similarly to visualization hypnosis can be used to reduce stress. In addition to the benefits from positive imaging the body also receives the additional benefits of physical relaxation, a key to stress reduction. You can use self hypnosis or, if you are not skilled with that yet, you can have a professional hypnotist teach you methods of stress reduction that can also help you deal with many other areas of your life. This can be especially helpful if there is a situation you have been dealing with for a long period of time without resolution.
So whether you’re the mail guy, the CEO, or the average working parent, stress is one unwanted visitor we all would like to boot out of our lives. Since stress can affect our health and reduce the quality of our lives take a few moments to review this article and see which of these coping methods you can use. Reducing your stress can help make the rest of your life long, happy and healthy. What more could you wish for?
By Wil Dieck
Anger Management Institute of Texas is a certified Anderson & Anderson provider.
Anger Management Classes available 7 days a week in Houston, Texas.
Gregory A. Kyles, M.A., LPC, CEAP, CAMF
Director, Anger Management Institute of Texas
Diplomate, President of Texas Chapter
American Association of Anger Management Providers