By the time your day is over, you likely will have completed many tasks: cleaning the house, finishing a project at work, helping your children with their homework, preparing meals, etc. All of these responsibilities may cause stress, leaving you physically exhausted with tense muscles and an aching head. However, there are small things you can incorporate into each day to make your life easier and alleviate stress.
Try these stress reducers to prevent stress or when you feel tense.
- Get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning. The inevitable morning mishaps will be less stressful.
- Schedule a realistic day. Avoid the tendency to schedule back-to-back appointments; allow time between appointments for a breathing spell.
- Get enough sleep. If necessary, use an alarm clock to remind you to go to bed.
- Eliminate or restrict the amount of caffeine in your diet.
- Do not rely on your memory. Write down appointment times, when to pick up the laundry, when video rentals are due, etc. As an old Chinese proverb states, “The palest ink is better than the most retentive memory.”
- Be prepared to wait. A paperback can make a wait in a post-office line almost pleasant.
- Procrastination is stressful. Whatever you want to do tomorrow, do today; whatever you want to do today, do it now.
- Relax your standards. The world will not end if the grass does not get mowed this weekend, or if the sheets are changed on Sunday instead of Saturday.
- Learn to say no. Saying no to extra projects, social activities and invitations for which you do not have the time or energy takes practice.
- Eliminate destructive self-talk. “I’m too old to…” or “I’m too inexperienced to…” are negative thoughts that can increase stress levels.
- Turn needs into preferences. Our basic physical needs translate into food, water and keeping warm. Everything else is a preference. Do not get attached to preferences.
- If an especially unpleasant task faces you, do it early in the day, and get it over with. Then the rest of the day will be free of anxiety.
- Have a forgiving view of events and people. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world.
- Do something that you enjoy every day.
- Have an optimistic view of the world. Believe that most people are doing the best they can.
- Take time for yourself. Develop a belief that everyone needs quiet time every day to relax and be alone.
- Become more flexible. Some things do not need doing to be done perfectly. Compromise on unimportant matters if they are creating friction.
- Talk it out. Discussing your problems with a trusted friend (or calling your Employee Assistance Program) can help clear your mind of confusion so you can concentrate on problem solving.
- Use your weekend time off for a change of pace. If your work is slow and patterned, make sure to build action and time for spontaneity into your weekends. If your workweek is fast-paced and full of appointments and deadlines, seek peace and solitude during your days off.
- Writing your thoughts and feelings down (in a journal or on a paper to be thrown away) can help you clarify things and provide you with a renewed perspective.
- Do something for somebody else.
- Try the following yoga technique whenever you feel the need to relax: inhale deeply through your nose to the count of eight. Then, with lips puckered, exhale very slowly through your mouth to the count of 16 or for as long as you can. Concentrate on the long sighing sound, and feel the tension dissolve. Repeat 10 times.
- Unplug your phone. Want to take a long bath, meditate, sleep or read without interruption? Drum up the courage to temporarily disconnect. (The possibility of there being an emergency in the next hour or so is almost nil.)
- Shrug your shoulder, roll your neck. Anyone who has ever had a tension headache knows just how knotted up the muscles in the back of the neck can get. Stretching this vulnerable area can help ease tension.
- Get up and take a break from your work area. A change of scenery can rejuvenate you and help to spur on creativity.
- Do not take yourself too seriously or no one else will.
- Do not let negative people get you down. Keep a positive attitude.
- Live each day one at a time. “Worry about the pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves.” This is another way of saying take care of today as best as you can, and the yesterdays and tomorrows will take care of themselves.
- Change in yourself what you do not like in others.
- Do one thing at a time. When you are with someone, concentrate fully on that person. When you are busy with a project, concentrate on doing that project and forget about everything else that you have to do.
- Focus on understanding, rather than on being understood, and on loving rather than on being loved.
- Inoculate yourself against a feared event. Just as a vaccine containing a virus can protect you from an illness, if you expose yourself to one or more of the dreaded aspects of an experience beforehand, you often can mitigate your fears.
Canadian Mental Health Association: www.cmha.ca
©2014 ComPsych ® Corporation. All rights reserved. This information is for educational purposes only. It is always important to consult with the appropriate professional on financial, medical, legal, behavioural or other issues. As you read this information, it is your responsibility to make sure that the facts and ideas apply to your situation.