In Part One, we looked at the sources and reasons for certain types of stress. Now we will look at practical tips and tricks for preventing, managing and eventually reducing (or maybe even eliminating!) stress in our daily lives. How nice it would be to sit down after dinner without a long “to do” list still rattling around our heads, or sleeping through the night without waking up thinking about a particular situation or person. Reducing our level of stress will lead to better sleep, better nutrition, more satisfaction with our lives and a much higher level of happiness on a daily basis.
Let’s cut right to the chase with tips on reducing the level of stress we feel.
1. Avoid overscheduling and set realistic goals. Practice doing “enough” without doing too much. And be sure to schedule down time into your busy schedule for fun or relaxation.
2. Prepare for upcoming events. It might be a job interview, a presentation at work, a speech at an event or an athletic event. When we feel prepared, our confidence goes way up and we usually do a great job.
3. Resolve your conflicts with other people. Even the smallest disagreement with another person can eat at us and it’s often simply not worth it. Sometimes biting the bullet and apologizing for your part in something can be incredibly freeing and often elicits an apology from the other person as well. Or, simply agreeing to disagree can help you to let it go and move on.
4. Talk to someone about it. There’s a saying, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” When something is bothering you, talking it out with someone else often helps put it in perspective. You don’t need to ask for advice, just a few minutes of someone’s time to get it out of your system. Often just hearing yourself articulate the problem can give you new insight into it.
5. Exercise! Even a little exercise is a terrific way to deal with stress because it relieves pent-up energy and tension. Exercise also releases chemicals in the brain that make us feel good.
6. Eat regular, well-balanced meals and get enough sleep. Even though sugar and caffeine are what we crave when we feel stressed or tired, they actually make matters worse. Instead of reaching for a candy bar, grab an apple and try to reduce opportunities for a sugar or caffeine crash, which will make us feel more stressed and run down.
7. Make room for fun! Participate in something you don't find stressful, such as sports, social events or hobbies. Go to the movies, take a long walk, read a book you’ve been meaning to get to. Do something nice for yourself!
8. Turn down the noise and constant stimulation. Facebook, email, phone calls, texting, appointments, due dates, ugh! It’s all too much and leaves little room for some quiet and space between everything we have to do. Reduce your time being hooked in electronically and enjoy the silence, if only for a few minutes. Find your happy place.
I hope these tips help you to reduce even a little bit of stress in your life, and encourage you to enjoy the rest of your summer. One of the happy places in my mind is a nice hammock between two palm trees, with a cool breeze passing over me. That’s where you’ll find me when I’m actually in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic. I hope you spend as much time in your happy place as I do mine. See you there!
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