Having a hard time falling asleep, feeling easily irritable and angered?

stressDo you find yourself having a hard time falling asleep at night, or feel you are easily irritable and angered? Are you yelling at your spouse for leaving the garage door open, eating more, drinking more. You may not even be aware that you are doing these things but they are all signs of stress. You may feel there’s nothing you can do about stress. Life just keeps coming at you. There will never be more hours in the day. Your family and work responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have more control over stress than you might think. Stress management is all about taking control over your life. Taking charge of your lifestyle, thoughts, emotions, and the way you deal with problems. No matter how stressful your life seems there are steps you can take to reduce the pressure and regain control.

The first step to managing stress is to recognize that you are under stress. You may not feel it, however your body may be telling you a different story. Some of the common physical signs include headaches; muscle/joint pain; mouth ulcers; stomach or bowel problem; and skin problems like acne breakouts, eczema, psoriasis, hives or rashes. Common psychological responses to stress include difficulty sleeping, irritability, tearfulness, anger outbursts, trouble remembering things, panic attacks, increased drug/alcohol consumption, overeating, and loss of sex drive.

Now that you have identified that you are under stress you may feel even more stress! We all respond to stress differently so, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing stress. If you feel like the stress in your life is out of control it is time to take control. No matter how powerless you may feel in the face of stress, you still have control over your lifestyle.

Next step is to recognize the source of your stress.  Major life events like moving your home, changing jobs, or losing a loved are easy to identify, but pinpointing the sources of everyday stress can be more complicated. It is easy to overlook your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to your stress levels.

Let’s take a close look at your habits, attitudes, and excuse to identify your true sources of stress. Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal? Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life, or as a part of your personality? Do you explain away stress as temporary even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather? Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.

To manage high-stress situations successfully, you must be mindful of how stress affects you. Then you can make selections about how to handle it and develop an effective plan of action.

  • Admit that you are not immune to stress
  • Be conscious of your physical and emotional reactions to stress
  • Counteract your initial reaction with positive strategies
  • Address one issue at a time. Attempting to correct more than one issue can lead to more stress

It is now time to create the plan. No single method works for everyone or for every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.

 

Strategy #1 – Exercise

Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. You don’t have to be an athlete or be a member of a gym to experience the benefits of exercise. Just about any form of physical activity can help relieve stress and burn away anger, tension, and frustration. Exercise releases endorphins that boost your mood and make you feel good, and it can also serve as a valuable distraction to your daily worries.

While the maximum benefit comes from exercising for 30 minutes or more, you can start small and build up your fitness level gradually. Short, 10-minute bursts of activity that elevate your heart rate and make you break out into a sweat can help to relieve stress and give you more energy and optimism. Even very small activities can add up over the course of a day. The first step is to get yourself up and moving.

Pick an activity you enjoy. This way you will be more likely to stick with it. Instead of continuing to focus on your thoughts while you exercise, make a conscious effort to focus on your body and the physical (and sometimes emotional) sensations you experience as you’re moving. Adding this mindfulness element to your exercise routine will help you break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that often accompanies overwhelming stress.

 

Strategy #2 – Engage socially

Engaging in social engagement is the swiftest, most effective way to rein in stress and avoid overreacting to internal or external events that you perceive as threatening. There is nothing more calming to your nervous system than communicating with another human being who makes you feel safe and understood. This experience of safety, as perceived by your nervous system, results from nonverbal cues that you hear, see and feel.

Reach out to family and friends and connect regularly in person. The people you talk to don’t have to be able to fix your stress; they just need to be good listeners. Opening up is not a sign of weakness and it won’t make you a burden to others. In fact, most friends will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only strengthen your bond.

 

Strategy #3 – Alter the situation

If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life. Express your feelings instead of bottling them up to avoid resentment. Be willing to compromise and look for a happy middle ground. Manage your time better, plan ahead to stay in control of your life.

 

Strategy #4 – Avoid unnecessary stress

While stress is an automatic response from your nervous system, some stressors arise at predictable times— for example your commute to work, a meeting with your boss, or family gatherings. When handling such predictable stressors, you can either change the situation or change your reaction.

It is not healthy to avoid a stressful situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate. Some common strategies are; learn to say no. By knowing your limits both personal and professional you can avoid taking on too much. Avoid the people who stress you out. Limit your time with them or end the relationship. Take control of your environment. If you are some place that causes you stress, leave.

 

Strategy #5 – Adapt to the stressor

Your mind is a powerful thing. How you think can have a profound effect on your stress levels. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself, your body reacts as if it were in the middle of a tension-filled situation. Regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude to stressful situations. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time. Look at the big picture. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere. Adjust your standards. Trying to be perfect is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”

 

Strategy #6 – Accept the things you cannot change

Many things in life are beyond our control and unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors, such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.

 

Strategy #7 – Make time for fun and relaxation

You can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors. Make a list of stress reducers you can plan to put into your daily schedule.

 

Strategy #8 – Adopt a healthy lifestyle

Healthy lifestyle choices can increase your resistance to stress. Eating a well nourishes the body to be better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day. Try to reduce caffeine, sugar snacks, soft drinks, and chocolate to help you feel more relaxed and sleep better. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. They only provide temporary relief. They do not deal with the problem. Finally, get enough sleep. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.

 

I enjoy developing personal, trusting relationships with my clients.

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