20th Dec, 2017
Stress Management Techniques
The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” ~ Warren Buffett
Some amount of stress just has to be dealt with, and it’s never a good idea to avoid something which needs to be attended to. If you take some time to really analyze it, however, the number of stressful situations you can eliminate might surprise you. Get out a notepad and make some lists based on the following:
- Cut down your to-do list: Analyze your schedule and prioritize your tasks by level of urgency. Cross off as many items that really aren't needed as you can. A to-do list should be manageable.
- Limit the amount of time you spend with people who stress you out: If someone consistently causes stress in your life, limit the amount of time you spend with that person. Be more aware of your reaction to them and how it might be causing more stress for you. Your reaction is thankfully something you can control.
- Learn how to say no: both on a professional and personal level. You should never take on more than you can handle as this will be a definite recipe for stress and set you up to fail. Most people would usually rather that you are aware of your limitations and say no to them than make a promise and let them down.
- Take control of the situation: Identify how you can limit stress in a particular situation. For example, if grocery shopping causes undue stress, do your grocery shopping at a less busy time or make a list to make the trip short. If driving to work stresses you out, find a less busy route, leave a little bit earlier, or bicycle.
"It is naive to think that self-assertiveness is easy. To live self-assertively—which means to live authentically—is an act of high courage. That is why so many people spend the better part of their lives in hiding--from others and also from themselves. " ~ Nathaniel Branden
If you can’t limit stress of a particular situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future.
- Be assertive: Don’t take a passive stance in your own life. You can deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them. For example, if a client at work gives you an unrealistic deadline be honest and firm with them and say you will need more time in order to adequately complete the task. In the end, they will be grateful that you met a realistic deadline with a quality result.
- Make your feelings known: Instead of bottling them up, when something or someone is bothering you, you can communicate your concerns in an calm and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment can build and the situation will likely remain the same or get worse.
- Improve your time management: Poor time management is the source of a lot of unnecessary stress. When you’re running behind on tasks it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, by planning your time, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under. Make sure that you stay focused on the job at hand so you don't get behind schedule.
"There is no problem so great that it cannot be instantly solved by a paradigm shift." ~ Gavin Grey
If it’s not possible to change the situation try changing yourself and the way you handle it. It is very possible to adapt to stressful situations and regain control of your stress by altering your expectations and attitude. Most situations and people are outside our realm of control, but what we absolutely can control is our perception and attitude.
- Reframe the problem: Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to relax and enjoy some alone time. Most negative experiences in life are an opportunity for growth and learning. Don't waste them.
- Adjust your expectations: Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection from yourself and from others. Set reasonable standards and learn to be okay with good enough when good enough is okay. If you have a hard time with what is reasonable, have an honest chat with a friend or co-worker.
- Look at the bigger picture: Take long distance view of the stressful situation. Ask yourself in the grand scheme of things how important is this issue? Will you even remember it in a week or months time? If the answer is no then focus your energy on important things. Many, many things that seem like a crisis in the moment will sort themselves out before very much time has passed.
- Focus on the positive: When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective. Meditation can help you clear your mind and allow positive thoughts to enter.
Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” ~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Sadly, we just can't control some of the most stressful situations that life can throw at us. You can’t avoid or change certain stressful events such as a death of a loved one or a serious illness. In these cases the best coping option is acceptance.
- Open up: Talk to a trusted friend or perhaps make an appointment with a therapist. The simple act of expressing what you’re going through can be very therapeutic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation. Someone who cares about you, or who has been trained, can offer advice about many customized coping options that will work best for you.
- Don’t try to control the uncontrollable: Many things in life are just beyond our control. Most certainly the behavior and perceptions of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, try to focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems or what you're doing or not doing that can have an impact on the stress you are feeling.
- Look for the positives: As the saying goes, “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, meditate and reflect on them and learn from your mistakes. Most negative experiences in life are an opportunity for growth and learning. Don't waste them.
- Make room for acceptance: Acceptance doesn’t mean you have to love it, like it, or want it, but it is about making room for imperfection rather than constantly being upset or disappointed with an imperfection. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.
That the birds of worry and care fly above your head, this you cannot change. But that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.”
~ Chinese Proverb
Beyond taking an assertive approach coupled with a positive attitude, you can also reduce and increase your resistance to stress by nurturing yourself and strengthening your physical health. Nurturing yourself mentally and physically is a necessity, not a luxury.
- Connect with others: Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress.
- Keep your sense of humor: This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body combat stress. It is said that laughter is the best medicine.
- Set aside relaxation time: Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule and do something you enjoy every day such playing an instrument, playing with your pet or getting lost in a good book. Meditation is an excellent way to relax and improve your mental and physical health.
- Exercise regularly: Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. Aerobic exercise is perfect for releasing pent-up stress and tension. Link to exercise blog?
- Get enough sleep: Try to get between 7 and 8 hours sleep per night which helps to restore both body and mind. Feeling tired will only increase your stress levels as it may cause you to think irrationally. Link to sleep blog?
- Eat a healthy diet: Bodies that are healthy are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Try to keep caffeine and sugar to a minimum as these can cause a crash in mood and energy levels. Well-balanced, nutritious meals will help keep your mind clear and focused throughout the day. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs which only further fuel anxious feelings and behavior. Link to nutrition blog?
- Supplements: Part of a healthy diet is making sure that you're getting ALL of the nutrients needed for your body. Some of these are hard to get from food and a stressful lifestyle eats up vitamins and minerals at an accelerated rate. Taking the appropriate dietary supplements is essential for optimal performance. The Vivacity supplements available are full to the brim with the vitamins and minerals needed for excellent dietary augmentation. In particular, the SERENITY herbal supplement is especially suited to reduce stress. The magnolia bark has been used in Chinese medicine for 2000 years to help reduce emotional distress and helps boost the proper balance of brain chemistry, which enhances memory and helps you think more clearly. SERENITY also contains an amino acid called Theanine, which is extremely effective for combating tension, stress, and anxiety. The final ingredient is another amino acid with the nickname GABA (gamma- Aminobutyric acid). All of these ingredients work together to promote relaxation, good sleep and optimum brain function.