Tip : Identify The Sources Of Stress In Your Life
Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isnt as straightforward as it sounds. While its easy to identify major stressors such as changing jobs, moving, or going through a divorce, pinpointing the sources of chronic stress can be more complicated. Its all too easy to overlook how your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors contribute to your everyday stress levels.
Sure, you may know that youre constantly worried about work deadlines, but maybe its your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that is causing the stress.
To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:
- Do you explain away stress as temporary even though you cant remember the last time you took a breather?
- Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life or as a part of your personality ?
- Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?
Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.
Start a stress journal
A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal or use a stress tracker on your phone. Keeping a daily log will enable you to see patterns and common themes. Write down:
Tip : Manage Your Time Better
Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When youre stretched too thin and running behind, its hard to stay calm and focused. Plus, youll be tempted to avoid or cut back on all the healthy things you should be doing to keep stress in check, like socializing and getting enough sleep. The good news: there are things you can do to achieve a healthier work-life balance.
Dont over-commit yourself. Avoid scheduling things back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day. All too often, we underestimate how long things will take.
Prioritize tasks. Make a list of tasks you have to do, and tackle them in order of importance. Do the high-priority items first. If you have something particularly unpleasant or stressful to do, get it over with early. The rest of your day will be more pleasant as a result.
Break projects into small steps. If a large project seems overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan. Focus on one manageable step at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.
Delegate responsibility. You dont have to do it all yourself, whether at home, school, or on the job. If other people can take care of the task, why not let them? Let go of the desire to control or oversee every little step. Youll be letting go of unnecessary stress in the process.
What To Say To Someone Who Is Stressed
Finding the right words in a stressful situation is not always easy. If youre trying to find the words to help out a loved one in a stressful situation, consider something that validates their feelings and will not make them feel guilty for being stressed.
You dont have to say much, just let them know that youre tuned in and listening, says Richardson.
Consider saying things like:
- Let me know how I can be of support.
- How can I help you focus on one thing at a time?
- This must be really hard for you.
Try to avoid saying things like:
- That doesnt sound hard.
- Youll be fine.
- You just need a vacation.
Another thing professionals advise against is the classic response of just relax.
When you say relax to a stressed person, they feel invalidated and misunderstood, says Richardson. This can cause the person more tension or stress.
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My Top Seven Tips On How To Calm Down When Youre Stressed And Anxious
These are the exact tips I use as coping strategies when Im feeling overwhelmed, stressed and anxious.
They can be done in order or you can pick and choose the tips that you like the sound of.
The first four tips are really good if you are feeling super anxious and panicky right now, and the three tips after that are all about general unwinding for more chronic stress
Stress Survey: What Types Of Stress Are You Coping With
Problem solving the controllable aspects of a stressful situation is one of the most effective ways to lower our stress. Identifying the problem and breaking it down into manageable chunks is the first step in creating a plan of action.
You can use this survey to help identify the different sources of stress in your life, and to track your progress in coping with them in a healthy way. Check the boxes beside the sentences you feel apply to you, then brainstorm strategies for coping with or solving each problem. See the Coping with Stress section of this wellness module for more information and tips on how to ensure your coping choices lead to reductions in stress and a healthier, more fulfilling life for you and your loved ones. Try taking the survey once a month to track patterns in your behaviourand the positive and negative ways you manage stress.
Adapted from: Holmes and Rahe, 1967 Wheaton, 1997.
About the authors
Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division helps people access the community resources they need to maintain and improve mental health, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness. CMHA BC has served BC for over 60 years.
Anxiety Canada promotes awareness of anxiety disorders and increases access to proven resources. Visit www.anxietycanada.com.
Select sources and additional resources:
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When Should I Talk To A Doctor About Stress
You should seek medical attention if you feel overwhelmed, if you are using drugs or alcohol to cope, or if you have thoughts about hurting yourself. Your primary care provider can help by offering advice, prescribing medicine or referring you to a therapist.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Its natural and normal to be stressed sometimes. But long-term stress can cause physical symptoms, emotional symptoms and unhealthy behaviors. Try relieving and managing stress using a few simple strategies. But if you feel overwhelmed, talk to your doctor.
Tip : Maintain Balance With A Healthy Lifestyle
In addition to regular exercise, there are other healthy lifestyle choices that can increase your resistance to stress.
Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.
Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary highs caffeine and sugar provide often end with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, youll feel more relaxed and youll sleep better.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs.Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Dont avoid or mask the issue at hand deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.
Get enough sleep.Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.
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Ways To Cope With Chronic Stress
“Its key to recognize stressful situations as they occur because it allows you to focus on managing how you react,” Dr. Stoll says. “We all need to know when to close our eyes and take a deep breath when we feel tension rising.”
Use these tips to prevent or reduce chronic stress.
1. Re-balance Work and Home
All work and no play? If youre spending too much time at the office, intentionally put more dates in your calendar to enjoy time for fun, either alone or with others.
2. Build in Regular Exercise
Moving your body on a regular basis balances the nervous system and increases blood circulation, helping to flush out stress hormones. Even a daily 20-minute walk makes a difference.
3. Eat Well and Limit Alcohol and Stimulants
Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine may temporarily relieve stress but have negative health impacts and can make stress worse in the long run. Well-nourished bodies cope better, so start with a good breakfast, add more organic fruits and vegetables, avoid processed foods and sugar, and drink more water.
4. Connect with Supportive People
Talking face to face with another person releases hormones that reduce stress. Lean on those good listeners in your life.
5. Carve out Hobby Time
Do you enjoy gardening, reading, listening to music or some other creative pursuit? Engage in activities that bring you pleasure and joy research shows that reduces stress by almost half and lowers your heart rate, too.
6. Practice Meditation, Stress Reduction or Yoga
Make Time For Friends
Lets be honest here: Parenting can be exhausting. Sometimes a good old-fashioned girls or boys night is the perfect antidote for feeling stressed out by kids, work and household duties.
My girlfriends and I have a monthly standing Friday night date, where we leave the kids with our partners or sitters and head out for a night of fun, says mom of two Nicole Schultz of Scarsdale, New York. I swear, I can be super stressed out or in the worst mood, but as soon as I get out of my house and we get together, were laughing for three hours straight. I always come home revitalized and feeling recharged, even if its a late night!
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What Are Some Ways To Prevent Stress
Many daily strategies can help you keep stress at bay:
- Try relaxation activities, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises and muscle relaxation. Programs are available online, in smartphone apps, and at many gyms and community centers.
- Take good care of your body each day. Eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep help your body handle stress much better.
- Stay positive and practice gratitude, acknowledging the good parts of your day or life.
- Accept that you cant control everything. Find ways to let go of worry about situations you cannot change.
- Learn to say no to additional responsibilities when you are too busy or stressed.
- Stay connected with people who keep you calm, make you happy, provide emotional support and help you with practical things. A friend, family member or neighbor can become a good listener or share responsibilities so that stress doesnt become overwhelming.
Breathing And Relaxation Exercises
Many people find exercises that focus on breathing and muscle relaxation to be helpful in relieving stress. The playlist below will help you to understand how stress works and start feeling better. These exercises can be done anywhere and are designed to help you feel more relaxed in general, as well as helping you feel calmer if you are becoming stressed.
This playlist is free to download, and you can also stream it using the Soundcloud website or app. You can download and listen to individual tracks if there are particular exercises that work best for you. If you’re listening to it for the first time, it’s best to start from the beginning.
To access a BSL version of this playlist, .
Find out more by checking out these 10 stress busters.
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Things To Do When You Feel Overwhelmed By Your Workload
If you have moments of feeling overwhelmed by your workload, start with some deep breathing and healthy self-talk, like saying to yourself, Even though I have many things to do, I can only focus on the one thing Im doing right now. Then start tracking your time to figure out how much youre really working, and and how youre spending your time. Your behavior will naturally shift in positive directions due to this monitoring. Third, check your assumptions with others does your boss really expect an immediate reply? Does your colleague really need that report done today? Next, test your own assumptions about success requires: are they realistic? Finally, change your behavior. Changing your behavior is the best way to change your thoughts. For example, try flipping When Im less busy, Ill create some better systems into When I create better systems, Ill feel less busy.
Do your to-do lists stretch on and on and on? Do you dread checking email on Friday afternoons, worried about seeing messages piling up when youre just trying to get out the door? Or maybe youve noticed that anxiety is preventing you from concentrating on whatever youre currently doing. You might feel anxious that youre not working during times that are incompatible with working, like when youre buckling your child into their car seat or youre stuck in traffic. You may even feel anxious about the project youre not working on when youre busy plugging away on something else.
Theres So Much To Do But You Have A Difficult Time Deciding How To Start
It can be hard to know where to start when youre to-do list seems like its a mile long. In fact, it can be so overwhelming that you end up doing nothing- because making a decision on what to do first is too overwhelming. This is called analysis paralysis.
What to do about it: One thing thats really helped me is overcoming the need to be perfect. If youre a perfectionist, it can be really hard to make decisions and take action because youre so afraid of getting it wrong or making mistakes. Here are 5 Ways to Overcome Perfectionism and Embrace your Imperfect Life.
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What Are The Effects Of Stress
A certain amount of stress is okay if it helps to motivate you to deal with a short term problem. For example if youre stressed about writing a paper for school, and your stress causes you to ask your teacher for advice, and you finish the paper, then your stress has done its job.
In the short term, stress can:
- Help you focus on a situation or solve a problem
- Tire you out
- Make you nervous or irritable
On the other hand, if youre experiencing a lot of stress day after day, your body may start sending you warning signs that somethings really wrong. This kind of chronic stress can take a physical and mental toll on your body and mind.
Long term stress can put you at risk for health problems such as:
- Substance abuse
- Obesity and other eating problems
- Digestive problems
- Lower immunity to colds and other illnesses
These chronic problems are really your bodys way of telling you Hey! Im under way too much stress somethings got to change!
If you notice that you feel stressed just about every day, you should take some steps to lessen the number of stressors in your life, and try some techniques that will help you de-stress.
Tip One Belly Breath While Counting Back From 100
So, the first tip is one I use when my anxietys really bad, Im spiralling into panic and you get that thing where you cant quite breathe.
My boyfriend actually taught me this trick. I dont know where he found it but one day when I was feeling really stressed he did some Googling and found this, and honestly it works like a charm.
Plus, its really, really easy.
All you have to do is just count back from 100 and do a nice deep breath right down into your belly on each count.
Naturally when we breathe we want to puff out our chest, but that actually signals to our body that things are a little stressful because when you move into a stressed state you breathe very much only into the top of lungs so you can breathe in and out quickly.
But when youre actually calm and very relaxed you naturally do diaphragmatic breathing which is just breathing deep into your belly so your belly sticks out when you breath in, not your chest. That sends a trigger to your body that everythings okay and that we dont need to be in a stressed state right now.
Then combining that breathing by counting down backwards from 100 is really good because it focuses your mind on something that isnt the stressor at the time and because counting down from 100 is not difficult, but its also not so easy you can do it without thinking so it forces you to focus on something none stressful.
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Laugh And Cry Together
Richardson says laughter can help relieve stress. However, she says, not just a half-laugh though, you need a big belly laugh. To try this, you can take your friend to see a comedy show or watch a funny TV show or film together.
Crying can be another way to relieve stress, since it may release cortisol from the body, says Richardson. However, more research is still needed on this topic.
To try this approach, you can switch the movie or show to a tearjerker or just offer yourself to your friend as a shoulder to cry on.
Additional ideas for helping someone who is stressed include:
- providing random acts of kindness, like buying them flowers or food
- offering to help in any way you can.
- validating their feelings.
- distracting them with something enjoyable, like a movie, walk, or game.
- suggesting deep breathing exercises.
Spend The Whole Day Alone
If you get recharged by spending time alone, youre going to have to eventually just give yourself the space to recuperate and work through your stress alone.
Send the kids to their friends house for the day, kick the husband out to go play sports with his friends, whatever you need to do to get that one day of solitude.
And when you have it, plan for it.
Are you going to lounge around all day in your pajamas?
Are you going to get something done that has been stressing you for out forever?
Are you going to indulge in all of your favorite foods that your family isnt invited to share?Do what you need to do and enjoy the time spent alone.
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