Stress Busting Tips ...by Stan Hyman, PhD, LCSW
There will always be a certain amount of stress or apprehension connected with anything we do that we consider important. It is the human condition.
Stress is cumulative. Like the building up of pressure in a pressure cooker, we need to learn how to release and adjust the pressure frequently or we break down.
Work and everyday life Stress Busters:
1. Keep your eye on the bigger picture. Don’t let yourself get caught up in every small issue so that you only focus on minutia.
2. Get organized. You’re likely to stress less if you have organized your time, your work and your records.
3. Set priorities. Establish what goals are most important and do them first.
4. Write things down. Don’t tax your memory unnecessarily. Stress and aggravation can get amped up quickly when you forget to do something important.
5. Plan the night before. Have a plan for your day. You don’t have to be rigid but at least be clear.
6. Take an extra 15 minutes. Rushing to get things done often can stress you unnecessarily. If you give yourself a little more time to get to an appointment or to complete a task you will likely feel more at ease.
7. Be decisive. If you find yourself vacillating or obsessing about something either put it aside or make your decision! Wavering and hesitating can become distracting and unproductive. Decide and move ahead!
8. Don’t micro- manage. If you are a control freak learn to delegate or do it yourself and then let it go. Spending too much time on things that can be handled by others takes you away from what you do best.
9. Good enough is better than perfect. Perfectionism can be a major stressor, especially if your standards are impossible to satisfy. Learn to set reasonable standards so you can achieve reasonable goals.
10. Don’t procrastinate. If you often find yourself putting things off it is likely because you are afraid of something. Push through the fear and get it done. (See my Newsletter on Procrastination).
11. Remove the clutter. If you have allowed your life to become cluttered (messy desk, messy car, messy files, messy relationships, etc.) clean it up! The more you tolerate the more stressed out you will become.
12. Focus, don’t let yourself get distracted. Stay on task. Whenever you let yourself get interrupted you run the risk of never finishing what you set out to accomplish. Do one thing at a time and get it done!
13. Use your sense of humor. Laugh often, lighten up, be a little less serious and try finding the humor in things. You'll cheer others up and enjoy yourself more often. Laughing is good for you physically and mentally and others will enjoy your company.
14. Broaden your perspective. Evaluate a potentially stressful situation by considering whether it will really make a difference in your life tomorrow, next week or a month from now. If not then you can move on to something else.
15. Stay positive. Have positive references handy so you can call upon them when you are stressed and feeling gloomy. Know the things in your life that you are grateful for and think about them often. Stop beating yourself up with negative self-talk…it’s time to change your mental recording!
16. Listen before you speak. Hear the other person out without interrupting. Make sure you understand someone clearly before you make preemptive judgments or say things you might regret.
17. Communicate, express yourself. Be assertive not aggressive and say what’s on your mind and in your heart in an effective, respectful way at work and at home. Don’t let resentment and anger build up. Talk to your loved ones.
18. Learn to compromise. Negotiation is a fundamental principal in business, politics and life. If you want something you have to give something. Everybody wins when there is flexibility.
19. Think before you speak. This advice is especially important if you get angry easily and are prone to saying things you often regret. An old method, tried and true, is to count to 10 before saying anything when you’re irritated or upset. I advise you to count to 50…you’ll need more time.
20. Take time for yourself. Whether you meditate, just sit and stare at a tree or spend a few minutes “spacing out” give yourself a few minutes every day to be alone and ponder. The mind needs time to refresh and clear.
Physical Health Stress Busters:
21.Exercise. This is an obvious no brainer. Every study shows the benefits of getting any form of exercise. It will help to reduce stress and is essential for your well being.
22. Learn to relax. Take a few minutes (only a few minutes), close your eyes, take a deep breath and tell yourself to relax. You can program your mind to calm down with just a little practice. You can also take a warm bath, stretch several times a day or just take a 5 minute nap. Do this every day and you will notice an improvement in your stress level.
23. Cut down on alcohol. If you drink more than a glass or two of wine or have more than one or two beers each night you are probably drinking too much. Alcohol can wear you down and cause you to be irritable and stressed the next day. (see my Newsletter on Alcoholism).
24. Cut down on caffeine. If you are using caffeinated beverages to amp you up throughout the day you are probably not sleeping too well. There’s nothing wrong with caffeine if you use it in moderation.
25. Get enough sleep. If you are not sleeping well or are sleep deprived you will likely perform poorly at work, feel irritable and be short tempered. Sleep deprivation is pervasive in our society and often contributes greatly to the stress in a person’s life. (see information on sleep problems).
26. Eat well. Eating is often an emotional experience. We might eat when we are worried, sad, lonely or bored. The food choices you make can either help you to offset stress by nourishing the body and mind or add to it by taxing or compromising your health.
Spiritual Health Stress Busters:
27. Practice Tolerance. We are all struggling in this world and we all make mistakes. Don’t let the driver who accidentally cuts you off make you so angry that it ruins your day (and your loved ones’ as well). Give the other person the benefit of the doubt and don't get trapped into being too judgmental.
28. Practice Forgiveness. It is like tolerance only more of a stretch. If you can excuse or pardon someone (your spouse, your child, your parents or even or even yourself) for being silly, inconsiderate or selfish you may be on your way to a “higher level”. If you can let go of your need to be angry, aggressive or to always be right you may find yourself feeling calmer and more comfortable in your own skin.
29. Practice Meditation. This is a little like #19, “Learn to relax”. However it requires a little more time and effort. The objective is to achieve a more relaxed state of mind throughout the day. The methods vary but research has found that regular meditation practice will reduce anxiety and improve overall physical, mental and spiritual health.
30. Practice Yoga. Along with Meditation, Yoga can probably be found on every list for stress reduction. And there is a good reason for that…it works! Yoga is an applied science of the mind and body. It works on both levels to help you to achieve a healthier state. Almost every doctor will recommend Yoga nowadays.
31. Practice Kindness. Generally trying to be nice to others will help you to loosen up and feel better. Smile more, say thank you and do someone a favor without expecting it to be reciprocated.
32. Practice Loving. Having a strongly felt connection and passion for someone or something enriches a person. Express your love. Be affectionate to those you care for.
Don't wait for stress to break you down. Do something everyday that will relieve the pressure and make you feel better.