Stress reduction is all about learning how to cope and release tension and anxiety in your life. Here are 10 ways to start coping better with life’s many challenges…
- Prioritize – Stop worrying about too many things at one time. Stress occurs when you fret over too many little things. Prioritize your work and leave the unimportant stuff for the time being.
- Avoid Multitasking – Put your entire focus on what you are doing at the moment. For example, if you are writing a letter, just focus on that and turn off all distractions (email, phone, etc.). Doing things this way will not only help you work faster but also more efficiently.
- Take a Break – Give yourself a break and move away from a stressful situation. This gives you adequate time to contemplate and look for options of how to react positively to adverse situations. Even when you are not stressed, it helps a lot to take frequent breaks throughout the day.
- Let Go – You have to realize that not everything in this world will work according to your wish (In fact very little will actually). Universe has its own plans and you must learn to accept things that do not go according to your way. The more you resist to change, the more stressed you’ll be. Remember the powerful saying “This too shall pass…”
- Take a Day Off – Take a day off completely once in a week and engage in some sort of stress reduction technique like meditation, yoga, massage or be totally amidst nature. It’ll help you tremendously in relieving pent up stress.
- Laugh More Often – Stay around people who are happy and have a positive disposition. The endorphins that laughter releases will help you remain calm and feel better. And the effect of laughing is not limited to time of laughing. The feel-good factor stays on for a considerable amount of time after a good laugh.
- Eat Healthy – A well balanced diet can work wonders in controlling your stress levels. Normally the food we reach out to at times of stress (sugary, fatty and oily) make you feel better by actually causing the adrenal glands to work harder. The result is fatigue and more stress. Eat more fresh foods, vegetables and fruits.
- Help Others – Helping others or engaging in some sort of selfless service takes your mind off your problems and gives you satisfaction or contentment, which is key to stress free living. The focus of the present day human being is always on something that he doesn’t have. Hence he is discontented and stressed most of the time.
- Positive Affirmations – Giving yourself messages that you can cope rather than telling yourself that things are horrible is a proven self help technique. Long term stress restricts delivery of glucose to the brain and impedes memory thus inducing negativity. You need to remind your brain that you can overcome and manage the stress in your life.
- Exercise – Exercise relaxes the brain by diverting the blood to the body. It also releases endorphins that help you feel good. One does not have to engage is some sort of strenuous activity to feel good. Even a mild activity like walking, when done with full awareness can make you feel better and relaxed.
Stress can go on for long periods in the challenges that modern life presents. There is no way that you can avoid them. Situations tend to be favorable as well as adverse. Relieving stress depends upon your coping skills. You can either take up the challenge posed by a changed situation and learn to manage the stress that comes with it, or you will crumple and fold.
Dealing with Work Related Stress
Workplace stress is what energizes, motivates creative thinking and keeps you interested in your job. But unmanaged stress or stress that is not dealt with properly frustrates and wears you out.
High stress levels are, in fact, getting higher with every passing day. Studies reveal that there is a strong connection between high stress levels and the rising cost of health care.
One of the major reasons for the increase in workplace stress has been the change that has taken place in workplace settings. With the advancement that has taken place in information and communication technology, you are never too far from your workplace – cell phones, PDAs and laptops ensure that you are always connected to work. Not bringing your office worries was never so difficult before.
You are adept at management techniques and know how to make the most of your time but what do you when you are faced with situations that are fraught with difficulties and imponderables. Slipping deadlines, uncooperative colleagues and unrealistic demands placed on you can leave you in a quandary and cause a lot of stress in your life.
So, how do you deal with work related stress? All situations cannot be controlled but you can calm things down and not let them explode. Here are some useful suggestions.
- Start your day right – You are more likely to enjoy you work if start your day on a right note. Make sure to have a nutritive breakfast, plan properly and adopt a positive attitude for the day ahead. A stressful morning means that you are more reactive to stress at work.
- Exercise – Exercise is the top way to manage stress at work. If you are in a position to, then go to a gym during lunch. If not, then join a local yoga, go for a swim, jog around the building or just go for a walk. Go anywhere you like to but just change the scene and exercise a bit for half hour. Go shopping if you like.
- Prioritize – Use your time management skills to organize and prioritize your tasks. Create a daily task list and cross them off the list when a task is done. If your workload is high, talk to the boss instead of cribbing over it. The boss can help you prioritize your work.
- No comparison with others – You will be creating a lot of unnecessary unhappiness if you keep on comparing yourself with co-workers. The only comparison that is of any value is what you were and what you are now.
- Do not postpone – it is always better to take a wrong decision rather than not take it at all. If you keep procrastinating work pressures are only going to mount. There may be times when the deadline is round the corner and you are too burnt out to meet it.
- Learn to say no – Learn the ability to say no politely so that you do not commit to more than what you can handle.
- Switch off for some time – Turn your cell phone off and log off you e mail account but do it responsibly for some time. Not all calls or messages require immediate responses. It is okay to wait for some time before you respond to most issues.
- Avoid multitasking – You may be able to prepare your breakfast and talk on the phone simultaneously. But you could have done both better if you had done them one after the other. It only appears that you are doing more than one task together. Actually you are switching between them rather than doing them together.
Dealing with Emotional Stress
Human emotions exist for a specific reason. They force us to meet our needs. If a particular need is not being met (say sufficient earnings), it gives rise to a negative emotion, fear. The fear of penury obliges us to do something to earn more.
Daily survival in modern times is a continuous struggle. We feel threatened by events like downsizing, traffic jams, not having enough time and a lot more. All this leaves us emotionally stressed. Emotional stress is also caused by various other events like bad relationships, family conflicts or a highly political environment at workplace where you have to constantly watch your back.
What is worse is that the problem recreates the cause and forms a vicious circle. When you are under emotional stress your emotions become more intense, which in turn further heightens emotional stress.
Emotional stress is relatively more difficult to deal with. It is, most of the times, self-created and hits you hard since it is created by the various beliefs that we have. Here are some methods to deal with emotional stress.
- When you see that you are overwhelmed with emotions, ask yourself some questions. If you see that you are upset or sad or feeling angry or fearful, ask yourself, “how can I be at ease and restore my confidence”. It is no use to blame others for what the other person did or not do. Blaming others is simple but does not provide a solution to your problem. The solution to your emotional stress lies within you.
- Take a break in order to deal with the emotions that you are feeling. Go on a vacation and separate yourself from everything that is creating emotional stress. It is like fleeing from the scene of crime and by doing so you are moving away from whatever is triggering your emotions.
- There are also proven techniques that help you relax your mind and shut off your emotions. Practice yoga or learn to meditate. These are ancient methods that help you calm your mind and also provide health benefits. Yoga allows you to cleanse your mind of emotions and achieve a state of equanimity where neither good nor bad raises emotional responses.
- Take up a hobby or indulge in fun activities to distract your mind from whatever that is causing stress. Hobbies work as a combination of vacation and meditation. You are, sort of, on a vacation and your mind is totally engrossed in achieving something. Howsoever minor the activity may be it gives you an emotional release and helps you relax your mind.
- While some ways of coping with emotional stress only provide temporary relief, relaxation techniques like yoga, exercise and other methods help a lot in the long run. But they require a fair amount of commitment and they work best when they are incorporated into your lifestyle. The ultimate solution lies inside you and is within your power.
Managing emotional stress is about realizing where it is coming from and finding a solution. Instead of losing courage learn to use your senses to manage stress in your life. It may appear difficult and take some time. If you get down to it, it is as easy as learning how to drive or play golf.
Nature – The Ultimate Stress Reliever
Modern life that persuades you to stay indoors most of the time does cause a fair amount of stress. The long working hours that you may have, working against time to meet deadlines, and never-ending meeting and discussions take a toll on physical as well as mental health. Confined air conditioned offices also add to physical stress since the body does not get enough fresh air.
Nature, in fact, is the ultimate stress reliever. Managing stress can be as simple as sitting outdoors and reveling at the beauty in things that you see around you.
You simply need to step out and marvel at the beauty of nature to relieve stress. The world out there can play a soothing and calm symphony to ease tense nerves. Hear the sound of wind drifting through the branches of trees or hear the nice quite air. See the orange-red leaves of autumn falling down, the contrasting grey breast of blue-jays in the backdrop of bright blue body and the beauty of blossoming flowers and experience the difference it makes to your mood.
You are lucky if you live near flowing water. Take delight in seeing how a brook crosses hurdles and flows through pebbles and rocks and revel at the thought of the poet who wrote, “For men may come and go, I go on forever.”
Respond to the call of the mountains and whoop it up when you see the immense beauty of the hills. Take a seaside vacation and see cute dolphins playing and squeaking with joy in the ocean. That joy can be yours if you want to.
You have lots of opportunities for getting relief from stress even when you are going to work, for shopping or even walking to your neighbor’s house. Don’t hurry but observe things around you: stop if you see a spider’s web ? see how lovely it looks and marvel at the insect’s engineering feat.
Invite birds to be with you by putting a bird feeder in your backyard. Take up gardening or consider a vegetable garden. Believe it or not you will derive great pleasure from seeing the saplings grow into flowering or fruit bearing plants.
Modern life has turned into a cauldron of stress. When you confine yourself indoors you are actually doing great disservice to yourself and adding to the stress that you experience. If you must stay indoors, get yourselves nature sounds on a compact disc. Switch it on, close your eyes, listen and breathe deeply. Relate to the experience of being outdoors and experience how nature relieves your stress as work becomes a distant memory for few minutes.