Monday, January 24, 2011

19 Tips to Manage Stress

For my second installment of a behavior to work on for the new year, I'd like to address the topic of stress. We all deal with stress on a daily basis. Depending on how we respond to stress, we can either alleviate it, or make it worse. Managing stress can make a huge difference when it comes to your health. Here are 19 good suggestions to help you keep your stress under control.

1. Plan ahead. Make sure you have clean clothes for the next day the night before. Prepare your lunch or plan meals the night before. Planning ahead can help you stay on top of the little things and help you avoid the stress of things like a low gas tank or empty toilet paper roll.

2. Take time to rest. Getting sufficient sleep is important to helping your body deal with stress. Make sure you get to bed early enough. Taking naps when your schedule allows can also help your mind relax and your body rejuvenate.

3. Express your feelings. Talking to a friend about your problems and stress can be very therapeutic. Some people like writing in a journal, or doing a blog post as a way to vent and get rid of stress and help you put things in perspective.

4. Get up a little earlier each day. You should also leave a little earlier to any appointments you may have. Arriving early will help you avoid the stress that arises from traffic and racing the clock to get somewhere on time. Be realistic when you plan your schedule and allow sufficient time between activities.

5. Take regular breaks from your work. Remove yourself from the work area regularly. Get up and stretch if your job requires you to sit for long periods of time. Don't skip your lunch break.

6. Don't procrastinate. This only compounds stress. Deal with the unpleasant bigger tasks you need to accomplish earlier in the day instead of putting them off. The longer you wait to do something, the more fear and anxiety you will have about it.

7. "Just say no". This slogan applies to more than drugs. Some people try to take on more than is possible and will say yes to any thing in order to please or help out others. Setting limits can be very liberating. Try to simplify your life by saying no to things that are really not that important to you.

8. Learn to Delegate. This is a close cousin to saying no. If you can delegate a task to a co-worker or family member, then do it. You don't have to do everything yourself.

9. Have some quiet time. Unplug your phone, leave your cell phone in another room, turn off the TV, stop checking e-mails so frequently. Take some time to relax in a quiet environment. It helps to disconnect and occasionally unplug from the constant barrage of information that we are flooded with every day.

10. Live in the now. It is important to live one day at a time. Planning for the future is very beneficial, but you can only live your life in the present. Focus on what you can actually do today since that is all we have control over.

11. Focus on one thing at a time. When we try to multi-task, it can be overwhelming and can lower the quality of our work. When you are talking to someone, focus on the conversation and actually listen to them instead of thinking about all the other things you need to do.

12. Blow off some steam. This is best accomplished with physical activity. Exercise, stretch, get a massage, take a hot bath or jacuzzi to help your body physically relax and relieve tension.

13. Schedule relaxation time. Schedule time for yourself every day. This could include taking a nap, meditating, praying, deep breathing, or some other activity that interrupts the busy routine and allows introspection and relaxation.

14. Take time to do activities you enjoy. These might include sports, reading, watching a favorite TV show, or some other hobby. Having something to look forward that you enjoy can make a big difference in your stress levels.

15. Stay organized. Write appointments down on a calendar or planner and use a watch. Relying on your memory for everything can be stressful. Having a clean home and work environment also helps. It can be stressful trying to find keys, a tool or some item that is not where it should be. Replace the chaos with order.

16. Practice preventative care. This applies to your automobile, home appliances, and your body. Many of the stressful breakdowns and repairs we are forced to deal with could be avoided or lessened with proper maintenance. Broken stuff can be very stressful and aggravating. Replace or fix things that aren't working as they should.

17. Relax your standards. You don't have to compromise quality or your ideals, but some times we need to be a little more patient and flexible and expect the inevitable setbacks and obstacles. It can also be helpful to differentiate between wants and needs.

18. Avoid stressful environments and people. If someone stresses you out, try not to be around them as much. Avoid people and places that that stress you out. This might mean finding a new line of work.

19. Proper nutrition. Eating right will give you more energy and help your body handle the stress. Avoid caffeine or other stimulants that might make you feel more edgy.

I'm not advocating people slack off of their responsibilities and goals in order to avoid stress. Stress is inevitable in life and can even be very beneficial to us. I'm just saying we need to do a better job of avoiding the bad stress since it only detracts from our health and quality of life. Remember to take time to chill.


Clint - Crude Fitness said...

Good post.
I think physical exertion is my favorite way to let of some steam. And I mean ALL kinds of physical exertion :)

Raymond said...

Very good list to follow it should help improve quality of life.
All I have to do is remember to do it! Its so easily forgotten with life's issues.
My most stress events is being late for anything ..I usually arrive so early but that's the only way I can manage it.

Dave said...

I'm fortunate that I've avoided a lot of stress in my life. Exercise is one thing that does help me with stress though. It's a time that I can focus on one activity that I enjoy and feel good about myself while doing it.

Sam said...

Great list to remind of us little steps we can take NOW to decrease stress.

It has been said that stress is the number 1 killer. Stress leads to health issues.

All these tips help and just planning ahead and using preventative measures helps a lot.

I know one thing I do after work is I won't go straight home. Instead, I will take a "scenic route" by driving a bit longer while listening to my favorite music. Helps me unwind from the days events before heading home.

Stacey said...

Great list! I am the worst at'd think I would learn that waiting til the last minute creates more stress! (: