Take Charge of Stress

Thinking about how to manage stress may be the last thing on your mind right now. It may be that you are just coming back to work after a relaxing holiday, and life feels pretty good. But inevitably, September comes and the kids are back to school. Work gears back up. Before we know it, today’s fast-paced lifestyle takes over and we’re feeling burnt out again.

What can we do now to ensure stress doesn’t end up taking a toll on our health, vitality, and peace of mind? Here are some suggestions for increasing stress resistance and avoiding burnout:

  • Re-evaluate your goals and prioritize them. Evaluate their demands on you, and whether you’re able to meet those demands.
  • Learn how to say “no.” Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, taking on more than you can handle is a recipe for stress.
  • Re-evaluate your to-do list. Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, cut tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list, or drop them entirely.
  • Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, respectfully communicate your concerns. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will stay stressful.

Taking Charge of Stress  

  • Make healthy lifestyle choices. Eating a healthy & balanced diet. Get plenty of exercise. And try to get enough restful sleep. These things go a long way when it comes to managing stress.
  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are outside our control, particularly the behaviour of others. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control. These include the way you react to problems.

“If you see good things about yourself, you are more likely to feel good; the reverse is also true. Challenge yourself to stop using words such as ‘always,’ ‘never,’ ‘should,’ and ‘must.’ These are telltale marks of self-defeating thoughts and a source of stress.”

  • Reframe your problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause. You can use this time to listen to your favourite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.
  • Keep the big picture in perspective. Ask yourself how important whatever is happening will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month, or a year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
  • Take time to plan ahead. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused.
  • Don’t try to be perfect. Perfectionism is a major source of stress. Don’t set yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others. Learn to be okay with “good enough.”
  • Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life. This should include your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective. Make a change! How you think has a profound effect on your emotional and physical well-being. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself, it triggers a stress response in the body.

The body’s natural relaxation response is a powerful antidote to stress. Try techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga. These can help you relax. With regular practice, these activities can reduce your everyday stress levels. What’s more, they also protect you from future stress. They can teach you how to stay calm and collected if life should throw you any curveballs.