Techniques of Stress Management
March 11th, 2013; Posted in Emotional Health
When stress is high, it’s important to know what makes you feel calm and relaxed. Otherwise, it’s easy to turn to unhelpful coping strategies. What calms you or makes you feel more relaxed when stressors are high? Take a moment to reflect on this now so you’re not caught off guard once you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Think about what things need to be in place on a regular basis for you to perform at your best. Everyone gets overwhelmed from time to time, but prevention is the key! Think about what works for you. Here are some suggestions to consider for your own daily self-care routine on techniques of stress management :
1. Learn to Relax. Throughout the day, take “minibreaks.” Sit down and get comfortable, slowly take a deep breath in, hold it, and then exhale very slowly. At the same time, let your shoulder muscles droop, smile, and say something positive like, “I am r-e-l-a-x-e-d.” Be sure to get sufficient rest at night. Alternatively, close your eyes and imagine a place where you feel relaxed and comfortable. Notice all the details of your chosen place, including pleasant sounds, smells, and temperature. After 5-10 minutes, slowly open your eyes and stretch.
2. Take a Deep Breath. Stress often causes us to breathe shallowly, and this in turn almost always causes more stress. Mentally scan your body for physical tension. Does your chest feel tight? You may be holding your breath without even knowing it. Shallow breathing puts less oxygen in the blood stream, producing an increase in muscle tension. You may experience headaches; you may feel more anxious and uptight. The next time you feel “uptight,” try taking a minute to slow down and breathe deeply. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Exhale slowly. This is one of the techniques of stress management that you can do at any time.
3. Practice Acceptance. Many people get distressed over things they won’t let themselves accept. Often these things that can’t be changed, like someone else’s feelings or beliefs. If something unjust bothers you, that is different. If you act in a responsible way, the chances are you will manage stress effectively.
4. Talk Rationally to Yourself. In techniques of stress management , what we say to ourselves in response to a particular situation can affect our mood and feelings. Consider, for example, two people reacting to the same unpleasant event. Suppose the first person thinks, “This is a catastrophe, and I’ll never be able to deal with it,” while the other thinks, “This is unpleasant, but I have some skills and resources to cope with it.” The second person is likely to experience significantly less tension, anxiety, and stress than the first. The following self-talk guidelines can be effective when reducing anxiety, tension, and fatigue:
- The first step is to become aware that you are engaging in negative self-talk. Often uncomfortable feelings, such as anxiety or guilt, are clues that a person is engaging in negative self-talk.
- Try to identify some of the negative statements you have been saying to yourself. It is sometimes helpful to ask, “What am I telling myself that is making me feel this way?” You might first ask, “What have I been feeling?” Then ask, “What thoughts were going through my mind to cause me to feel that way?”
- Do some “rational questioning” to try to discover logical errors in your negative statements. For example, ask the following questions: “What is the evidence for this?” “Am I looking at the whole picture?” “Am I being fully objective?”
- Try to come up with positive, supportive statements to counter the negative statements. Repeat the positive statements or affirmations over and over again. Examples of affirmations are, “I have the skills and resources to help me handle this situation” and “I have survived more difficult events in the past, and I will survive this one.”
- Watch out for perfectionism – set realistic and attainable goals. Remember, everyone makes errors. Be careful of procrastination – breaking tasks into smaller units and prioritizing will help get things done.
5. Get Organized. As part one of your techniques of stress management , develop a realistic schedule of daily activities that includes time for work, sleep, relationships, and recreation. Use a daily “to do” list. Improve your physical surroundings by cleaning your house and straightening up your office. Use your time and energy as efficiently as possible.
6. Exercise. Physical activity has always been on the list of techniques of stress management. In the past, daily work was largely physical. Now that physical exertion is no longer a requirement for earning a living, we don’t get rid of stress so easily while working. Sitting around can mean letting stress accumulate in your body. When you feel nervous, angry, or upset, release the pressure through exercise or physical activity. Try aerobics, walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, working in the garden, washing your car, etc. Remember, your mind and your body work together.
7. Manage Time. One of the greatest sources of stress is overcommitment or poor time management. Make a reasonable schedule for yourself and include time for stress reduction as a regular part of your schedule. Trying to take care of everything at once can seem overwhelming, and, as a result, you may not accomplish anything. Instead, in your techniques of stress management, make a list of what tasks you have to do, then do one at a time, checking them off as they’re completed. Give priority to the most important ones and do those first. If a particularly unpleasant task faces you, tackle it early in the day and get it over with; the rest of your day will include much less anxiety.
Most importantly, do not overwork yourself. Resist the temptation to schedule things back-to-back. All too often we underestimate how long things will take. Schedule time for both work and recreation. When things are especially difficult, take a walk or otherwise change your scenery.
8. Disarm Yourself. Every situation in life does not require you to be competitive. Adjust your approach to an event according to its demands. You don’t have to raise your voice in a simple discussion. Playing tennis with a friend doesn’t have to be an Olympic trial. Leave behind your “weapons” of shutting out, having the last word, putting someone else down, and blaming.
9. Quiet Time. Balance your family, social, and work demands with special private times. Hobbies are good antidotes for daily pressures. Unwind by taking a quiet stroll, soaking in a hot bath, watching a sunset, or listening to calming music.
10. Watch Your Habits. Eat sensibly, this is essential in techniques of stress management. A balanced diet will provide all the necessary energy you will need during the day. Avoid nonprescription drugs and minimize your alcohol use – you need to be mentally and physically alert to deal with stress. Be mindful of the effects of excessive caffeine and sugar on nervousness. In excess, the temporary “highs” They provide often end in fatigue or a “crash” later. Put out the cigarettes – they restrict blood circulation and affect the stress response. Get adequate sleep.
11. Talk to Others about Being Stressed. Friends can be good medicine. Daily doses of conversation, regular social engagements, and occasional sharing of deep feelings and thoughts can reduce stress quite nicely. “Bottled up” emotions increase frustration and stress. Talking with someone else can help you clear your mind of confusion so that you can focus on problem solving and encourages effective stress management. Even if it is slightly embarrassing, asking for help soon after a problem occurs may avoid much more serious problems later. Also consider writing down thoughts and feelings. Putting problems on paper can assist you in clarifying the situation and allow you a new perspective.
12. Know Your Limits. A major source of stress is people’s efforts to control events or other people over whom they have little or no power. When confronted with a stressful situation, ask yourself: is this my problem? If it isn’t, leave it alone. If it is, can you resolve it now? Once the problem is settled, leave it alone. Don’t agonize over the decision, and try to accept situations you cannot change. There are many circumstances in life beyond your control, starting with the weather and including in particular the behavior of others. Know your limits. If a problem is beyond your control and cannot be changed at the moment, don’t fight the situation. Learn to accept what is, for now, until such time when you can change things.
13. Visualization. Your imagination is a very powerful tool that can be used to reduce stress. By consciously visualizing or imagining relaxing images, you can achieve a feeling of relaxation. In addition, by consciously revisualizing a stressful experience or situation, you can reduce the intensity of your stress reaction. Some suggestions for visualization:
- In your imagination, create images that involve all the senses. You can imagine soothing sights, sounds, touches, tastes, and smells.
- Visualize and image representing stress, and then replace it with an image representing relaxation. For example, you can visualize a harsh red color turning into a soft blue.
- Visualize a special place in which you feel safe and comfortable. Let your imagination fill in as many details as possible.
- Combine visualization with physical relaxation. Relax your muscles as you visualize.
- Combine visualization with affirmations. As you visualize, repeat short, positive statements, such as “I am releasing tension.”
- Listen to soft, relaxing music as you visualize.
If you are experiencing chronic stress, work stress, or just need help coping with stress in your life, consider our Stress Counseling Services Call us today at 832-209-2222 and one of our counselors can help you get your life back. Or complete our online form.
Its well-organized chapters on breathing, relaxation, meditation, thought stopping, and body awareness still guide the reader through copious self-help techniques to try and, eventually, master.
Requiring only minutes to learn, and just ten to twenty minutes of practice twice a day, the Relaxation Response has proven to be one of the most effective ways to relieve the tensions of modern-day living for a richer, healthier, more productive life.
Your gremlin interprets your every experience. He has nothing good to say about you or anything you do, not to mention your dreams and aspirations.
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