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Tips for Reducing or Controlling Stress

As you read the following suggestions remember that success in reducing stress, as with most things, typically takes some time. Some suggestions may help immediately, but if your stress is chronic it may require more attention and/or lifestyle changes. The key to reducing stress is to determine your tolerance level for stressful situations and try to live within these limits.

First, be realistic. If you feel overwhelmed by an over abundance of commitments, learn to say NO! Evaluate your current situation and begin to eliminate any activity that is not absolutely necessary. You may be taking on more responsibility than you can or should handle. Know that by saying “no” you are taking responsibility for your life and will likely be more productive and effective in the tasks to which you remain committed.

Second, shed the "superman/superwoman" mentality we frequently pursue in our culture. No one is perfect, so you need not expect perfection from yourself or other people in your life. Understand that asking for help is a sign of mental maturity and health. Knowing your limits and being prepared to ask others for assistance demonstrates strength, not weakness.

Finally, consider including one or more of the following in your daily routine:

  • Meditate
    • Ten to twenty minutes of quiet reflection may bring relief from chronic stress as well as increase your tolerance for life stressors. Use this time to listen to music, relax, and clear your mind.
  • Visualize
    • Use your imagination to picture how you can manage a stressful situation more successfully. Whether it is a business presentation or a personal relationship, visual rehearsals can boost self-confidence and enable individuals to take a positive approach to a difficult task.
  • Take one thing at a time
    • For people under tension or stress, an ordinary workload can sometimes seem unbearable. The best way to cope with the feeling of being overwhelmed is to take one task at a time. Pick one urgent task and work on it. Once you accomplish that task, choose the next one. The positive feeling of "checking off" tasks is very satisfying and will motivate you to keep going.
  • Exercise
    • Regular exercise is a highly effective way to relieve stress. Twenty to thirty minutes of physical activity each day can benefit both the body and the mind.
  • Hobbies
    • Take a break from your worries by doing something you enjoy. Whether it is gardening, painting, or some form of sports, schedule time to indulge your interests in things other than work and family.
  • Healthy life style
    • Good nutrition makes a difference. Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol (alcohol actually disturbs regular sleep patterns), get adequate rest, exercise, and balance your work and play.
  • Share your feelings
    • Conversations with trusted individuals allows for mutuality and empathy to take place. This will provide you the opportunity to gain additional insights to your problems as well as recognize that you are not alone in your worries.  Stay in touch with friends and family. Let them provide love, support, and guidance. Don't try to cope alone.
  • Give in occasionally
    • Be flexible! If you find you are meeting constant opposition in either your personal or professional life, rethink your position or strategy. Make allowances for other's opinions and be prepared to compromise. If you are willing to give in, others may meet you halfway. Not only will this reduce your stress, but you may find that others can provide useful solutions to your problems.
  • Go easy with criticism
    • You may expect too much of yourself and others. Having unreasonable expectations frequently leads to feelings of disappointment, frustration, and resentment. Remember to balance the hopes and expectations you have for yourself and others with each person’s ability to achieve those goals. Be patient, especially with yourself, and the situations will be resolved in due time.

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