Managing stress is a balancing act between demands and resources. The more we utilize and expand on our repertoires of coping skills, the more prepared we will be to successfully deal with the situations we encounter.
Try these stress-busting strategies:
- Be aware of stressors. Think about the situations that cause the most stress. Pay attention to thought patterns, what happens in the body, and to specific emotions. Once we know our triggers, then we can reduce or eliminate them, or create an alternate plan for dealing with them.
- Learn from experiences. Draw from the strengths that got us through stressful times in the past.
- Have supportive connections. Having people we can talk to is important for getting our feelings and frustrations out. Friends may also be able to provide solutions to our problems or know of resources that can help. Communication is key.
- Get physical. Exercise reduces tension and burns off adrenaline, hormones, sugars, and fats that are released into the system when we are stressed. It increases energy, releases endorphins, strengthens the heart, and improves sleep quality. And the breathing, meditative, and stretching qualities of exercises such as yoga are great for relaxation.
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- Be realistic about our expectations. We must consider our limits, what’s most important, and how much we can comfortably take on.
- Challenge our perceptions. Instead of viewing the situation as a threat, we can think of it as a challenge and create alternative ways of dealing with it.
- Determine our needs. Making a list of which needs are being met and which are not can help. This can include physical and emotional aspects, such as sleep, diet, support, or fun.
- Be assertive. Expressing our needs and concerns can help us feel more in control of our circumstances.
- Create “islands of peace.” Coined by Dr. Doug Saunders of the University of Toronto, this term refers to giving the body a chance to repair itself from the wear and tear of stress, and can include yoga, meditation, reading, painting, or any other activity that brings you joy.