Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. Did you know that most visits to the doctor are for symptoms that are at least partially stress-related?
Stress can affect your sleep, your weight, and even increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease and depression. Recent research shows that stress can increase your risk of dementia later in life.
Two factors are involved. First, we feel stressed when we don’t like what’s happening. This could include anything from the weather, a person’s behavior, a rule or law, or a medical condition. And, the second factor is that we feel out of control – or feel like there’s nothing we can do about it.
So, to manage stress, think about all the things you can – and can’t – control in your life. It may feel a bit depressing to realize that there’s little in your life you can control. You can’t control traffic, Mother Nature, politics, or other people’s behavior.
The only thing you can truly completely control is your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. But, realize…that’s a lot! You have the power to completely change your stress level. Here are some stress management strategies that are useful to have in your bag of tricks.
If you ever had a bad night’s sleep, you probably remember that you were likely a bit high strung that day – and overreacted to situations that might not have usually bothered you. That’s why it’s important to take care of your body.
1. Eat healthy foods
2. Move your body every day in a healthy way
3. Cut back on the caffeine, especially after 3pm
4. Get adequate sleep
5. Realize alcohol is a depressant
In one of my Health & Sanity Call Podcasts, Dr. Katie Nall reminded us that the word “Emotion” includes “motion.” And, that there’s nothing wrong with feeling our emotions – happy and sad. But, we should keep them in motion so they don’t get stuck in our body and cause disease. Here are some ideas to release your negative emotions:
6. Punch a pillow
7. Tell yourself it’s OK to cry
8. Take up kickboxing, running, tap dancing, etc.
9. Journal at bedtime
10. Write a letter and send it (or don’t send)
I often hear people complaining about the nasty things people have said to them. But, I always remind them that while they may have said it once, there’s no need to repeat it a million times to yourself. Give yourself a break.
12. Pet an animal
13. Discover things that make you happy and practice them often
14. Keep lists of things you are grateful for (Gratitude List)
15. Keep a victory log – instead of dwelling on what’s not done
16. Smile, it’s contagious!
17. Find something that makes you giggle involuntarily
18. Get back into your favorite hobby
What are the first things our body does when it’s stressed? We stop breathing and tense up. So, find an activity that help you to relax.
19. Give yourself ME time everyday – read a non-work book, watch your favorite shows, or daydream
20. Take a power nap – 10-15 minutes mid-afternoon works wonders for some people
21. Read/do something relaxing before going to sleep – such as stretching, pleasure reading, or daydreaming
22. Practice deep breathing, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong
23. Take a daily walk during daylight hours – even 10 minutes of natural sunshine will help boost your spirit.
Remember, no one can get inside our head and “make us mad.” We do it to ourselves by perpetuating negative thoughts. Here are some ideas to help you change your thoughts.
24. Drop your negative friends
25. Visit your negative family less often
26. Hang out with positive people
27. Learn and use positive self-talk
28. Write a positive mantra and repeat it often
29. Listen to happy songs – and sing along
30. Listen to positive stories while driving
31. Establish a peaceful transition time between work and home
32. Reestablish your faith in humankind in whatever way works for you
33. Turn off the TV
34. Eliminate excess sound/noise
35. Don’t be so available – set a time to stop working
36. Get rid of clutter
37. Find a place for everything
38. Keep just one calendar for personal and work
39. Don’t over commit – learn to say no
40. Help people help themselves without doing it for them
41. Let other people help you
42. Lower your standards about less important things
43. Write down questions about your struggles – review them often. Eventually, the answers will come to you
44. Ask people who can’t identify with your stress issues for their opinions. Their advice will be different – and may be just what you need.
45. Seek the help of a professional counselor
46. Ask yourself: “Will this really matter in a year? Ten years?”
47. Schedule a time to worry – and don’t worry the other times
48. Practice the opposite of worrying – think about the best that could happen
49. Stop feeling guilty – not everything is YOUR fault and chances are this isn’t either.
50. Repeat often: “IIWEE” – “It is what it is.”
There you go. Fifty tips to help you manage your stress. Let me know what works for you by sending an email to drjo at drjo.com.