Stress Management Strategies
Pick one of the stress management strategies listed below and commit to finding a way to begin working it into your regular routine, one small step at a time.
Learn to Have Healthy Relationships
This subject could fill an entire book. In the limited space of this post, let’s look at the key components of this stress-reducing strategy.
- Identify the sources of stress in your relationships. Write about them in a journal. Make a list of people who cause you stress and explore what the issues are.
- Resolve the underlying issues. For each of the situations identified in step 1, assess what needs to happen to resolve it. Make a list and design a plan to improve the situation.
- Learn skills to improve relationships. Relationship skills are learned. We are not born knowing how to get along well with others, and most of us learned only limited skills from our parents. Identify the skills you need to develop, and make a plan for yourself. You can learn theses skills by reading books, taking classes, or working with a therapist.
- Avoid toxic people and situations. Some people have a toxic effect on you. If you can, limit the amount of time you spend with them. Look for opportunities to decline their invitations. When these people are family members, remind yourself that you don’t have to feel guilty about avoiding anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself. In work situations, look for ways to rearrange your schedule or your workspace to avoid interacting with such people.
- Seek out positive people and situations. This step is the reverse of the previous step. Look for opportunities to spend more time with people and in situations that make you feel good. Think about people who make you feel good about yourself and look for ways to increase time with them.
Watch what you eat. Some substances amplify the stress response. These include:
- Caffeine stimulates the release of stress hormones. This increases heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen to the heart. Ongoing exposure to caffeine can harm the tissue of the heart.
- Refined sugar and processed flour are depleted of needed vitamins. In times of stress, certain vitamins help the body maintain the nervous and endocrine systems.
- Too much salt can lead to excessive fluid retention. This can lead to nervous tension and higher blood pressure. Stress often adds to the problem by causing increased blood pressure.
- During times of high stress, eat more complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole breads, cereals, and beans).
- Get Moving. The human body was designed to be physically active. However, in most jobs today, people are sitting down most of the time. When faced with stressors, we respond with our minds, not our bodies, yet much of the effects of stress are built up in our bodies. What’s needed is a way to discharge stress from the body.
- Exercise is one of the simplest and most effective stress management strategies. Activity provides a natural release for the body during its fight-or-flight state of arousal. After exercising, the body returns to its normal state of equilibrium, and one feels relaxed and refreshed.
Practice meditation as a way to let go of tension and anxiety. Meditation is one of the most effective long-term stress management strategies. Meditation practice helps to calm the mind and create a deeper sense of calm. An excellent resource to find out more about mindful meditation is the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.
You can try these guided meditation exercises to start your daily practice: http://selfcompassion.org/guided-self-compassion-meditations-mp3.html
Experiment with your own stress management strategies. Pay attention to times when you feel more at ease, less overwhelmed, or less “stressed”. What were you doing/not doing? What was different? Dig deeper and find out what was working for you.
If you are experiencing chronic stress, work stress, or just need help coping with stress in your life, consider our Stress Counseling Services. Our therapists in Houston are available for face to face sessions as online therapy sessions in limited areas.
To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.
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