How to skillfully manage stress
Stress – it’s never ending. There will always be a certain amount of stress we experience each day from meeting deadlines, worrying about a loved one, disagreements with others, or maybe sitting in stalled traffic. We may not be able to wipe the slate clean eliminating all stress but we can develop better methods of how we handle it. Since we have to deal with stress daily, we might as well learn how to become a pro at it. Whether it’s minor stressors or more major, life-changing stress, how we handle these inconveniences can affect our life satisfaction and even our health.
The best way to manage your stress is to learn healthy coping strategies. One method is to become more aware of the warning signs that stress is building up. Maybe you feel like your life has become a blur with you rushing around without getting much done. Or maybe you are lacking motivation to do the things you dream about but are too stressed to actually pursue. Physically you may notice your muscles tensing up, your jaw clenching or the development of unexplained aches and pains. Stress also plays on our emotions by creating feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious, helpless, angry, or depressed.
When stress rears its ugly head, you need to have a plan on how to stop it in its tracks. Otherwise, stress can result in physical side effects on all systems within our bodies affecting the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and even the male and female reproductive systems.
Here are ways you can better manage stress day to day to keep it from chipping away at your health and well-being:
· Learn to count to 10
Of course you already know how to count to 10 but whenever you find yourself getting irritated, take a deep breath to collect your thoughts before speaking. Better yet, if you can, physically step away from the situation for a few minutes. Even a brief break may give you a chance to regain your composure and put things in perspective.
· Give yourself a pep talk
Chase negative thoughts out of your head by reframing overly pessimistic thinking into a more upbeat frame of mind. This is not to say you have to be a Pollyanna type of person 100 percent of the time. Rather it means to say to yourself, “this is more than I can handle” and to add to that, “I will give it my best shot or I will ask for help if I need it.”
· Learn to laugh
One of the best stress-relievers of all time is laughter. The saying of “laughter through the eyes of tears” as being one of the most time-honored ways of deflating stress is so true even during the most emotional and difficult of times. Crack a joke, watch a funny video or share a laugh-out-loud picture on social media. All can be good for keeping stress levels under control.
· Budget your time
Your time is precious and sometimes we have to say “no” to new tasks when your schedule is already full. Prioritize your daily activities, deciding which are must-do tasks and which can be put off or eliminated. Even if at the end of the day you didn’t accomplish everything, congratulate yourself on what you were able to get done.
· Use exercise to reduce stress
Just as little as 20 minutes of physical activity like walking, running, cycling, swimming, tennis, or dancing can dial your stress level down.
· Each day do something fun
Have a fun part of your day you set aside to do something you thoroughly enjoy. Pursue a hobby, read for pleasure, listen to music or work on a creative project. If it makes you happy, it’s good for you.
· Practice relaxing each day
Relaxation comes in many forms. The important thing is to take time each day to make it a habit of practicing relaxation. Methods to try to help you relax could be deep breathing exercise, yoga, meditation, taking a warm bubble bath, or relaxing in a hammock or lounge chair watching clouds float by.