Top 10 Real-Life Ways to Take Charge of Your Stress

Discussion created by angeleyes on Jan 13, 2009
Latest reply on Jan 21, 2009 by kathy7
So, what's the most effective route to managing stress? Here are some tips to help you take charge of your life and reduce your level of stress:

1. Develop good coping strategies to use when you feel stressed — and practice using them when you're feeling calm so you can call on them when your stress level rises. Learn relaxation techniques, practice meditation, and engage in a pleasurable physical activity. These methods all help to counter the stress response in the body. If you can't learn them on your own, sign up for a course on stress management or specifically on relaxation techniques. (Note: These are not "new age" techniques — they have been proven to reduce stress.)

2. If you currently use harmful coping mechanisms, like drinking, smoking, or overeating when stressed, commit to breaking those habits, and get help if necessary. Join a support group focused on your issue.

3. Remember the "serenity prayer" and decide what you can and cannot change — then take actions to change the things you can. Try to jettison any stress you feel about things you have no control over.

4. If you are worrying about a particular issue or problem, develop a plan of action to deal with it. And if someone can help guide you or give you input to help you make decisions or a plan of action, seek out his or her assistance. It may sound silly, but write down your plan, or make a contract with yourself about what actions you will or won't take — and hold yourself to it!

5. Practice having a positive attitude. Attitude matters — you can view the glass as half full or half empty, and it makes a tremendous difference. Practice gratitude as well. It will focus your attention on the positive things in your life and help you see opportunities and solutions.

6. Work on developing a resilient personality. Resilience is characterized by five traits:
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* Insight — know yourself and accept the truth.
* Adaptability — respond in creative and imaginative ways.
* Responsibility — don't bother with blaming others or wait for someone else to fix your problem.
* Commitment — engage with the reality of life and commit to personal growth.
* Connection — communicate with openness and clarity.

7. Keep a journal and write down your concerns and worries, and then leave them there, especially before you go to bed at night. Studies have shown that journaling reduces stress levels and helps people put their lives into perspective.

8. Have more fun, and develop your sense of humor. Seek out pleasurable activities and events, and watch more comedy. Laugher is good medicine.

9. Carve out personal time every day, and indulge yourself with things that bring you pleasure: a hot bath, dark chocolate, a good book, or music.

10. Establish a strong support system among family and friends and seek them out when you need emotional support or guidance about problem solving.

Whatever your problems are, or whatever you are struggling with, know there are people around you who can help. If you are overwhelmed with stress and feel you can't see a way out, or you're struggling with chronic anxiety or depression, you should think about seeking help from a professional, if you haven't done so already. There's no need to go it alone.