Stress-Busting 101

Stress affects everyone at one time or another – but it doesn’t have to rule your life! By understanding where your stress comes from, you can develop techniques to help reduce your stress and feel better emotionally and physically. Not only do stress reduction techniques help you feel happier, they can help prevent stress-related health problems like heart disease, obesity and accelerated aging.

Here’s your guide to busting stress now:

Understanding Your Sources of Stress

To start, you need to figure out what is making you stressed out in the first place. If you always feel stressed out, there’s an underlying reason that you’re not addressing.

  • You may be explaining your constant stress away as a temporary thing. You tell yourself “This is just a busy time” but you can’t honestly remember the last time you were able to relax.
  • You may think that stress is a normal part of your personality. You tell yourself “I’m just a busy, active person.”
  • You may blame your stress on the events or people in your life. You say “If it weren’t for X, my life would be a lot easier.”

Analyzing your habits, attitude and beliefs about stress can be really revealing. You may come to find that you’ve accepted stress as a normal part of your life, when it really shouldn’t be. Unless you confront your reasons for being stressed, you won’t be able to deal with them.

Replace Your Current Coping Mechanisms

Many people don’t realize how much stress they are under because they have harmful, albeit effective, coping strategies in place. Smoking, drinking too much, overeating, watching too much television, sleeping all the time and procrastinating can all be used to reduce stress temporarily. In addition, people may withdraw from friends, families and activities they used to love in order to overcome stress.

You need to recognize your harmful coping mechanisms if you want to deal with stress in a healthy way. Write down a list of the actions that you typically take when you are stressed. If they are hurting more than they are helping, they need to be replaced.

There are several different techniques you can use to reduce stress in a helpful, supportive way instead of your normal coping mechanisms. You can:

  • Go for a walk
  • Do deep breathing exercises
  • Spend time in nature
  • Call a friend to chat
  • Workout
  • Use aromatherapy
  • Play with your pet
  • Spend some fun time with family
  • Listen to music
  • Meditate

Create a go-to list of stress reducing activities. When you catch yourself reaching for the remote or the bag of cookies, review your go-to list and find a replacement. In no time at all, your old coping habits will be switched out for healthier activities.

Take Steps to Avoid Stress

Coping strategies are helpful, but the best way to reduce the impact of stress in your life is to reduce your overall stress. It’s not possible to avoid all stress, but you can take steps to eliminate as many stressors as possible.

Identify your limits and learn to say no – The sky won’t fall down if you say no! A lot of stress comes from over-commitment. If you find yourself trying to please everyone or taking on extra responsibilities, you need to learn the power of no. Before you say yes to anything else, be honest about whether you can really take on the project or commitment.

Control your environment – Whether it’s social media, the evening news or your morning commute that has you stressed out – you can take control of your environment. Try shutting off your Facebook alerts, turning off the TV or finding an alternate route.

Avoid situations that increase your stress – Do you have a well-meaning friend that puts you on edge? Do you find yourself getting worked up over politics, the environment or religion? Life is too short to spend your time so stressed out. Reduce your exposure to the people and the conversations that you find the most stressful, and you’ll be a lot happier.

By taking an honest look at your lifestyle, replacing your existing coping strategies with healthier alternatives and taking steps to avoid stress you can become an expert stress-buster!

Categories: Health & Wellness, Stress