Do you ever feel stressed out, checked-out, exhausted or overwhelmed? You are not alone. Many people today struggle to ‘keep up’ with their own lives. Studies are clear that the effects of stress on your mind and body can be deadly. Therefore, it is important to learn how to gain control of the things in your life you find stressful and to learn how to reduce your stress response. Here are five simple ways to reduce and manage stress in your life.
1. Identify the source of the stress and find ways to reduce it
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Take a moment to look at what exactly is stressful for you. This might be a difficult boss, a misbehaving child, having too much to do, feeling overwhelmed by chores and time pressure, fear of failure, worry about finances, health challenges, relationship issues…the list goes on and on. Write down the stressors in your life.
Now that you know what is stressing you think about how you might reduce the stress. Is there anything you can do to change the actual stressor? For example, if you have a difficult boss you might talk to him or her about how you feel, talk to human resources about a transfer to a different boss, or do some networking and find yourself a better, less stressful job. If your finances are stressing you out, sit down and make a list of your financial obligations. Create a plan for slowly paying down your debt. Consult a financial planner or an accountant for guidance. Create a budget and stick with it.
If you are overwhelmed with too much to do, list everything that’s on your plate. Cross off anything that simply doesn’t really need to be done right now. Put an asterisk by everything that someone else besides you could do and delegate everything possible. Now prioritize what is left by numbering the items. Then learn to say ‘no’ so you don’t keep recreating this same stressful situation of being overextended.
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2. Learn to breathe to lower your stress response (Learn to breathe here)
When we feel stressed out our whole body responds with something called the ‘fight or flight’ response. During the ‘fight or flight’ response heart rate increases, blood pressure raises, and stress hormones flood our system to make us fast and strong. The ‘fight or flight’ response kept us safe back in the caveman days when we were being chased by a tiger. Nowadays it makes us alert and quick if someone pulls out in front of us on the road. Great! But, unfortunately today the ‘fight or flight’ response is often activated nearly all the time as we struggle with constant stress.