After the holidays wind down, New Year Resolutions set in, and life and work responsibilities come back in full force, it is easy to become overwhelmed by stress. Unfortunately, this stress can at times be unavoidable. While you cannot necessarily change all the events and factors that cause stress, there are some simple strategies you can use to cope with and help reduce stress in order to live a healthy, happy, and effective life.
- Reconsider what you view as a problem: Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. For example, if you’re running late and stuck in traffic, use the time to reflect and relax; listen to music, listen to an audio book, or make a phone call to a friend that you haven’t had time to call lately.
- Set realistic expectations: Setting the bar too high is a major source of stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others in order to reduce stress and setting yourself and others up to fail by expecting the unrealistic, perfection.
- Focus on the positive: The number one problem with stress is that it overwhelms everything else and it’s easy to forget what’s good. Take a moment to put the stress aside and remember the positive; what you enjoy, what you appreciate in life, those you love and who love you. It will help you keep things in perspective and reduce the impact of stress you cannot control.
- Adjust your attitude: How you think directly affects your emotional and physical well-being. Negative thoughts feed into stress and create stress in situations that should be enjoyed. If you think positively about yourself, others, and situations, you are more likely to feel good. Avoid words and thoughts such as “always, never, should have, could have” as they are self-defeating and increase stress.
- Take care of yourself physically: Exercise, eating healthy, and getting a quality night’s sleep are three ways to reduce stress. Basic self-care improves your physical health and allows you to mentally cope with stressors more effectively. Stress can take a physical toll on you and increasing exercise can combat the physical wear and tear as well as release endorphins that help improve mood and energy, preparing you to deal with the stress of daily life without it overwhelming you.
If you are experiencing stress that is impacting your ability to live life well, consider working with a therapist. Therapists that are trained in techniques for stress help people learn new coping mechanisms to reduce the impact of stress on their quality of life. Stress therapy can help you develop the tools to find balance in your life, and feel better for the long term!