Well, it turns out there are many different ways to manage stress. Managing stress is learning to take control of our lives. It is an ongoing process. Here are just a few of the many ideas available to handle excessive or chronic stress:
· Relaxation – sitting quietly for even a couple of minutes (2-3 minutes) can help to activate the body’s relaxation
response. Taking a couple of deep breaths periodically throughout the day can boost feelings of calmness.
Meditation and yoga are other ways to reduce everyday stress. Spend 5 minutes listening to music or looking at
something fun, enjoyable and interesting (pictures of family vacation, a hobby or sport)
· Self-compassion – being non-judgmental to ourselves. We comfort a friend and treat them with kindness and
understanding- we need to do this same thing for ourselves. We treat ourselves harshly for not being perfect but this only serves to increase feelings of stress – self-compassion decreases stress and can improve your performance.
· Rely on routines – for everyday activities have a routine prepared to reduce the number of decisions that need to be
made on a daily basis. For example, have an evening routine to prepare for the next morning. Simple routines can
lead to a decrease in stress levels.
· Create a to-do-list – if you keep all of our daily tasks in your mind, try instead writing them down at the beginning of the
day rather than trying to remember everything in your mind. This also provides the opportunity to prioritize our tasks
for the day. When writing the to-do-list include when and where the tasks are to be completed. This helps increase
the chances of completing the tasks.
· Assessing progress – no matter what you have accomplished in your day you may find that you tend to only focus on
what still needs to be done. Take a few minutes and focus on what you have already completed in your day. Also, if
there is a large goal that you are working on, looking at our progress rather than just whether you’ve reached the
goal or not can switch your thinking to a more positive mindset.
· Self-talk – it is important to become aware of any negative self-talk and the emotions it provokes. Then change that
thought to a more realistic and helpful thought. Ask yourself – “what is another way to view this situation?”
· See the larger picture – see what you are experiencing in a different way. Think of your issue if you were to look back
on it in 20 years (or more), or in the wider view of the world.
· Using sensory input – using smells (lavender, lemon, flowers, coffee), visuals (pictures of loved ones or a special
place); touch (petting a animal, a soft blanket or sweater); taste (piece of gum, a warm drink; healthy snack);
movement (stretch; dance; short walk; squeeze a stress ball).
· Exercise – moving the body decreases the stress hormones, helps to focus the mind, and increases your general
sense of well-being. Gentle stretching, going for a walk, joining a partner to play tennis are all good ways to get
· Talking to someone – finding someone you trust to talk about what is going on can help to gain a different perspective,
gather support and to problem solve. That person might be a friend, partner, relative, co-worker, counsellor, doctor, or spiritual official.
Choose one of these ideas to try out or a couple of them – for example - deep breathing while looking at pictures of a special place.
Call Heather at 604-375-3010 (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you feel you would like to work with me to get a quick start at handling your stress.
Next time, I will talk about how to begin making these habits that stick!