When I speak to corporate groups, social groups, and write as a guest blogger (see my piece on PsychCentral), I like to address the elephant in the room. That is stress. We are all busy. We all have personal issues. We all have to deal with family life, people at work who we don’t like, and we all worry about keeping a job. This said, many of us also have to battle anxiety, depression, illness, etc. Sadly, I can’t write that there is an easy way to eliminate stress. There are too many variables. We can’t dodge stressful situations. We can’t control physical or mental illness. We can adjust the attitudes of other people. So, we have to learn how to cope.
In speaking with my groups, I address stress and then I teach how to cope for the real world. There are ways to help ease how you handle stress and the amount of stress you come into contact with. Again, these tools will not eliminate stress- but they do help! So, what are they? I am listing them below;
- Look at stress like you would look at a client with a challenge. You have to identify the stresses you can and can not control in you life. There is your starting point. Once you identify the stresses you can control in your life, you can start to make a plan to eliminate these stresses from your life. For example, if your neighbor is constantly causing you stress over a barking dog, avoid interactions with him. If you leave at the same time everyday and he or she grabs you to talk to you about your barking dog, leave earlier or later. Avoid the conversation and the needless stress if you can’t stop the dog from barking.
- Walk. It seems simple enough, but it works wonders. After a week of walking everyday for 20 minutes, you will see what I mean. Just about any form of physical activity can help relieve stress and burn away anger, tension, and frustration. Exercise releases endorphins that boost your mood and make you feel good, and it can also serve as a valuable distraction to your daily worries. Walking helps the heart and the mind and it is low impact enough to be a good starting point.
- Learn how to say “no”. This is very hard for people, especially for women. We are taught at an early age not to be rude, and saying “no” is viewed as rude. Let’s just face it. But, you don’t want to end up so stressed out that your blood pressure is going up, you are tons of pills, and you shake inside because you simply don’t want to be viewed as rude, or your womanly instinct is to play the role of a caretaker. Instead, I suggest that you know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, taking on more than you can handle is only going to lead to stress and even resentment. Say “no” because sometimes being a little rude is worth your health!