Managing Stress

Lowering your stress level is important to staying healthy and enjoying your life. Here are several steps that you can take to prevent and reduce major stressors.

What can I do to prevent major stress in my life?

Lowering your stress level is important to staying healthy and enjoying your life. There is no one way to get rid of stress for every person. Working through some steps can start to help you lower your stress level. Here are several steps that you can take to lower the stress in your life.
 
Find your stressors and change the ones you can
One of the first things that many people find helpful is finding out what their stressors are. Every person has different stressors and it is important to sit and jot down the things in your life that make it more stressful. Once you have a list of your stressors, look for the things that you can change. For example, if grocery shopping with your children is a stressor, a solution like a babysitter or going to a late night grocery store after the kids are in bed can help lower the stress of the situation.
 
Look for solutions to your problems
Many people with problems that cause stress try to ignore them. Procrastinating rarely helps to get rid of stress and most of the time makes it worse. Start thinking of solutions to your problem and start making positive steps towards this goal. For example, solutions could include you looking for a new job with less stress, or talking to an expert for financial or marriage counseling.

Plan for big changes in your life

Some people become overwhelmed if they take on too much at one time. Too many major lifestyle changes can cause a major amount of stress. For example, some people will take a new job, buy a new house and get married all at the same time.
 
Learn to say NO
Some people have a problem saying no to anybody. They become worried that if they say no that the other person will become upset or if at work saying no may jeopardize their job.  Taking on too much work causes a tremendous amount of stress. It is important to realize your limitations and to not take on more than you can do. What you may fail to realize is that someone may be upset if you say no, but they may be even more upset if you say yes and you don’t have the time to do something right.
 
Prioritize your life
Everyone has heard the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff”. You may look at your stressors and realize that there are many things causing you stress that are not important. You should learn to move the important things to the top of your pile and the least important things should be done last or not done at all.

 
 

Communication, support and understanding

Many people will not share their concerns with family, friends and people at work. Talking to people about your concerns is a great first step to solving your problem and lowering your stress. You may be amazed that some coworkers may have a solution to a problem that you never thought of and this can lower your workload and your stress.
 
Ask for help
Many people have so much on their plate that it is impossible to get it completely done. Consider asking other people for help with clearing your plate. Many times they are happy to help you out and can lower the stress in your life.
Some people with very high stress levels may need professional help from a therapist to lower their stress level. These trained professionals can really help to get your life on track if you feel it is becoming out of control.

 
 

Better lifestyle lowers stress

Taking care of yourself can help to reduce your stress and also give you the energy to handle future stress. Here are some tips to help to improve your lifestyle.
 
Exercise
Keeping active is a great way to lower your stress level. Going for a walk, a swim, or a bike ride can help clear your mind and help you relax. Canadian exercise experts recommend that you try to get between 30-60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week.  The key is to find an activity that you enjoy doing and do it on a regular basis.
 
Some people find that yoga and stretching exercises help to relieve tense muscles and lower the stress level. Some slow stretches for 5 to 10 minutes a day may be all that you need to reduce your stress.

 
 

Eat a healthy diet

When you are under a high amount of stress your body uses a large amount of energy to keep going. Many people will skip meals and eat junk food to help save time and because it is easy. What you have to remember is if you don’t fuel your body properly, it won’t perform at its best. Eating a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, low in saturated fat and simple sugars is good for your body and a great way for lowering your risk of a heart attack and stroke.
 
Avoid falling into the bad habit fix
Some people with a large amount of stress turn to things like alcohol, smoking cigarettes and drugs. They will say that they help to calm their body. The problem is they are unhealthy and they may help you relax when using them but this is temporary. When you stop, the withdrawal symptoms can tremendously increase your stress level.

 
 

What other things can I do to lower my stress?

There is no one thing that every person can use to lower their stress. You will have to try a few stress reducers and find what works well for you. Here are some stress-lowering tips that you may want to try.
 
Take some time every day to relax
Some people will say that they come home at night and relax by watching television. True relaxation is more than just sitting in a comfortable chair. It focuses on relieving tension in both your mind and your body.
 
Many people take 10-20 minutes every day for some meditation. Meditation is a way that people use to clear their mind and relax their body. There are many different types of meditation and if you are interested, consider taking a meditation class or reading a meditation book from your local library.
 
One relaxation tip that you may find helpful is deep breathing. Deep breathing will only take a few minutes every day and helps to relieve stress by bringing plenty of oxygen into your body. Here are some steps for deep breathing:
  1. Lie down on a flat surface.
  2. Place a hand on your stomach, just above your belly button. Place the other hand on your upper chest.
  3. Breathe in slowly and try to make your stomach rise a little.
  4. Hold your breath for a second.
  5. Breathe out slowly and let your stomach go back down.

 
 

Sleep your way to lower stress

When people feel overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do, they will not sleep as much to try to get everything done. Sleep is a time that your body uses to relax, recharge and prepare you for the next day. If you do not get enough sleep it will make you not able to concentrate and your body and mind will suffer.
 
Some people with high stress levels have trouble sleeping. Below are some tips on what you can do to help you sleep better. If you are having sleep problems that are not going away, talk to your family doctor about it.
 
Tips to help you get a good night sleep
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule (7 days a week).
  • Avoid sleeping in after a poor night and avoid daytime napping longer than 20 minutes and after 3 PM.
  • Try to limit the total time in bed to approximately 8 hours.
  • Relax before bed (warm bath, reading).
  • Do not lie in bed for long periods while awake.
  • Exercise every day (about 40 minutes with enough intensity to cause sweating).
  • Exercise earlier in the day if evening exercise prevents sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other recreational drugs, especially later in the day. If a person insists on smoking, he should try to not smoke after 7 PM.
  • Avoid large meals late in the evening. A light starchy snack (e.g., crackers and warm milk) may help with sleep.
  • Turn the clock face away and always use the alarm. Looking at the time on the clock in the early morning hours can cause arousal that prevents you from returning to sleep.
  • Keep the bedroom dark and soundproofed as much as possible. Consider earplugs if necessary.
  • Do not use the bedroom as a place to worry. Use the bedroom only for sleep and intimacy. You want your brain to link your bedroom to sleeping and relaxing.
  • If not asleep within 20 minutes, or if wide awake during the night, get up and leave the bedroom and do something quiet until drowsy.
 

Doing something you love

Every person has unique interests and hobbies. Doing something that you love to do is a natural way to fight stress. Below are some things that you may find fun and could help to lower your stress level:
  • Take up a hobby, new or old.
  • Read a book, magazine or newspaper.
  • Meet friends for a coffee or meal.
  • Play golf, tennis, or go for a swim.
  • Go for a relaxing drive.
  • Sew, knit or crochet.
  • Listen to music during or after you practice relaxation.
  • Take a nature walk – listen to the birds, identify trees and flowers.
  • Watch a favourite program on TV or rent a video.
  • Take a class at your local college.
  • Play cards or board games with family and friends.

 
 

Instant stress reducers

We are all put into high-stress situations such as a job interview, a conflict at home or work, or a presentation in front of people. Some people have trouble dealing with these situations and they say or do things that they later regret. Below are some tips that can help to quickly lower your stress. Remember that each situation may have a different stress stopper so you may want to try a few and find the one that works for you.
 
Some tips to drop your stress quickly
  • Count to 10 before you speak.
  • Take three to five deep breaths.
  • Walk away from the stressful situation, and say you'll handle it later.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Do some stretching exercises to lower the tension in your muscles.
  • Don't be afraid to say "I'm sorry" if you make a mistake.
  • Break down big problems into smaller parts.
  • Look for a funny joke from a friend or on the Internet.

 
 

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