This week on our Groll Family Fitness Balanced Plate Wellness Program, we talked about stress management. The effects of stress on the body, lifestyle changes to manage stress, and ways to avoid, reduce, and relieve stress. I want to share the lesson with my blog readers, because there is a TON of unnecessary stress in this world! Just think of all the wrecks that could be stopped from drivers being less stressed and late, how happy you could be if you knew how to manage your stress at work and home, how much better your relationships could be without a stressful environment! Even if you don’t think you’re stressed, just take a look at some of the ways you can learn to relax. There is some very good information here!
Lifestyle Changes For More Effective Stress Management
Learn to Plan: Disorganization can breed stress. Having too many projects going simultaneously can cause tension, confusion, forgetfulness and feelings of being overwhelmed. Planning and prioritizing make things more manageable and can give us a sense of peace and personal power.
Recognize and Accept Limits: Unreasonable and perfectionist goals for yourself can also cause stress. Nobody is perfect. Don’t set yourself up for a sense of failure or inadequacy no matter how well you perform. Set achievable goals for yourself.
Embrace the Positive: Avoid a negative, complaining, critical, fearful mindset. Learn to praise the things you like in others. Practice an “attitude of gratitude” in assessing your life. Notice and reward yourself for your good qualities and for even small improvements.
Have Fun: You need to occasionally to escape from the pressures of life. Find a pastime which is absorbing and enjoyable to you.
Learn to Tolerate and Forgive: Intolerance of others leads to frustration and anger. Engaging in rigid, black or white thinking about the way things “should” be can cause harmful, fatiguing emotions. Flexibility, acceptance, and finding the gray area can reduce stress and increase serenity.
Avoid Unnecessary Competition: A competitive, win-lose orientation that makes life into a series of contests tends to put your self-esteem on the line in every situation and can create excessive tension and anxiety. It can, also make you unnecessarily aggressive.
Exercise: Regular physical exercise not only gives you more strength and energy to deal with life’s demands, but also helps release a myriad of emotions such as anger, tension, and depression. You will be more likely to stay with an exercise program if you choose one that you really enjoy, rather than one that is hard work and drudgery.
Learn a Drug-Free Method of Relaxing: Meditation, visualization, progressive relaxation, yoga, tai chi, massage, etc. are ways of quieting the mind and relaxing the body. A little bit goes a long way especially if you incorporate this into to your daily life.
Express Your Feelings: Talk out your troubles, worries, concerns with a friend, counselor, or anyone you trust. If you do not feel that you can confide in anyone, write in a personal journal. Expressing your bottled-up tension can be very freeing.
50 WAYS TO REDUCE STRESS
Stress is a fact of everyday life. It is associated with happy events (weddings, promotions, and vacations) as well as unhappy ones (divorces, burglaries, and job layoffs). It can be triggered by trivial matters (burned toast or a missing button) as well as by major life crises (births and deaths). It also builds up gradually when you have more things to do than time in which to do them.
Too much stress leads to chronic headaches, high blood pressure, ulcers, heart disease and other health problems. In fact, some doctors believe that 90 percent of all illnesses are stress related. But stress is not necessarily bad. A life without it would be stagnant and boring. Some people encounter more stressful events than others, but the way we perceive and react to stress is often more significant than the amount we face. And the accumulation of minor hassles (long lines, wrong numbers and surly salesclerks) can be just as stressful to some people as a mugging or a serious illness.
There is no need for anyone to suffer from the kind of stress overload that result in health problems. There are many practical ways to avoid, reduce or relive stress. Here are fifty suggestions. They won’t all work for you, but all you need to find is a few new ones you haven’t already thought of yourself. There are a couple bold ones that I pointed out that really apply to me!
- Get up fifteen minutes earlier. Morning mishaps are less stressful -and also less likely -when you have time to spare.
- Prepare for morning the night before. Set the breakfast table, get the coffeepot ready to plug in, make sack lunches and prepare the clothes you plan to wear the next day.
- Never wear ill-fitting clothes. If shoes pinch, pantyhose creep down or a waistband binds, even a stroll to the mailbox can be stressful.
- Set appointments ahead. If you’re always waiting for others, tell them to meet you ten minutes earlier than you plan to arrive. “When I give a dinner party,” one hostess admitted, “I give different times to different guests, depending on whether they’re usually prompt or chronically late.”
- Don’t rely on your memory. Write down addresses, directions and phone numbers and take them with you to unfamiliar places. Leave notes on your mirror, refrigerator or car door to remind you of important dates and errands.
- Practice preventative maintenance. You’ll have fewer breakdowns for automobiles, heaters, air conditioners, washers and other machines you depend on if they’re cleaned and serviced regularly.
- Make duplicates of all keys. Exchange house keys with a trusted neighbor, hide car keys in your garage, keep extras for luggage, storage closets and strongboxes in a safe, convenient place.
- Rearrange work hours, if possible. A thirty-minute change in arrival or departure times can make a big difference in traffic, crowds and other stress producers.
- Say “no” more often. It’s amazing how much stress can be eliminated by giving up unrewarding activities, refusing inappropriate requests and turning down invitations from people you don’t enjoy.
- Never shop for clothes with critical teenagers, skinny friends or those who look terrific in everything. Everyone has imperfections. Why call attention to them?
- Take advantage of off-hours for banking and shopping. Shop by mail, phone, or internet whenever possible. Why put up with crowded stores, long lines and impatient clerks if you don’t have to?
- Rearrange mealtimes. If it’s a hassle to get dinner ready on time, try postponing it. Your family won’t starve if they eat an hour later.
- Be more tolerant at meals instead of getting upset about little things. It’s nice to get the whole family together for meals, but you may have to endure spilled milk, sibling squabbles and cranky remarks about the food. Remember that these times will not last forever.
- Keep an emergency supply or necessities (soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, tampons) and dip into it only in emergencies.
- Walk everywhere you can. Exercise has a soothing effect – especially when it permits you to avoid traffic jams, crowded buses and costly taxis.
- Make copies of all important papers and keep the original in a safe place~ Never let go of an original deed, birth certificate, will or important receipt. Send copies instead. When originals are required (such as securities, passports, and insurance policies), send them by registered mail.
- Anticipate your needs. Make sure you have plenty of coins for toll collectors and vending machines, batteries for children’s toys, pens and pencils that still write, and pantyhose without runs. And always stop for gas before you really need it, especially at night and on holidays.
- Don’t put up with anything that doesn’t work properly. No one needs the aggravation of a malfunctioning alarm clock, a key ring that loses keys, or appliances that smoke.
- Make advance reservations at hotels, restaurants and theatres. Confirm time, location and other details before you go.
- Allow extra time. If it is usually thirty minutes to get to the airport, allow an hour. It’s better to arrive well ahead of schedule than to fret over every stoplight or traffic tie-up along the way.
- Be prepared to wait. A long line at the post office or a delay at the dentist’s office is almost pleasant when you have a good book with you.
- Never arrange a meeting place that has no telephone. An unavoidable delay can be a nightmare when there is no way to contact who you are meeting. If it’s impossible to meet at a place where you can receive calls, agree on a number you can both call if something goes awry.
- Find the humor in it. Every disaster has something funny about it if you look for it.
- Keep a busy kit handy when you travel. Transportation snafus are easy to ignore when you have your music to listen to, a favorite magazine, or a needlework project with you. You may even learn to speak French by playing French language CD’s when chauffeuring your kids around.
- Relax your standards. Doing everything perfectly is not only unnecessary, it’s boring. Life is a lot easier if you ignore a little dirt, take more shortcuts in the kitchen, and let the sheets go a few more days between launderings.
- Get help with the jobs you hate. If you find that certain chores always make you tense, such as paying bills, defrosting the refrigerator or scrubbing bathtubs, get someone else to do them or help you do it. Beg, barter or pay for help if you have to. It’s worth it.
- Establish a serene place of your own -even if it’s just a comfortable chair in a quiet corner. If the sound of your teenager’s stereo, your husband’s ballgame or the neighbor’s barking dog still penetrates, wear earplugs.
- Change your perspective. Instead of worrying about what will happen if… Try asking yourself, “So what?” So what if your mother’s birthday gift is a few days late? So what if you can’t get your best dress dry-cleaned before the party? So what if you actually miss your train or plane? Will it matter next week or next year? Even if your worst fears are realized, they often turn out better than you thought or at least tolerable.
- Count your blessings. No disaster is so bad that it couldn’t be worse. It helps to remember that. After all, you could have burned the entire dinner instead of just the rolls. The doctor could have kept you waiting two hours instead of only twenty minutes. You might have lost a thousand dollars instead of ten.
- Keep time fillers by the telephone. You won’t mind being put on hold if you can spend that time reading mail or writing a letter. And you’ll be more sympathetic to a friend who “needs to talk” if you can do your mending or file your nails while you listen.
- Memorize your favorite poems and recite them to yourself whenever you’re forced to stand on a crowded bus or get stuck in an elevator.
- Keep some individually wrapped candies or sugar-free gum handy. Getting one out, unwrapping it, and popping it into your mouth can be a welcome distraction that takes some of the tension out of bad moments.
- Travel light. The less you have to keep track of when you’re away from home, the easier it is. If you never take more than you can comfortably carry onto an airplane, you can avoid lost luggage, long waits at baggage-claim counters and frustrating searches for porters.
- Be prepared for rain. Don’t try to outguess the weatherman. Stock your handbag, work place and car with rain hats, plastic rain capes, umbrellas, and shoe protection.
- Ask questions. You’re less likely to make mistakes or get lost if you make sure to get detailed instructions first.
- Take advantage or your body rhythms. If you’re at your best early in the morning, that’s the time to schedule complicated tasks that require concentration. If you don’t reach your peak until later in the day, start with easier things that don’t require much thought. It doesn’t matter when your peaks and valleys come as long as you plan accordingly.
- Make a contingency plan. A rained-out picnic, a sold-out theatre or a closed restaurant is disappointing, of course, but it won’t spoil your day if you’ve made alternative plans “just in case”.
- Un-clutter your life. Get rid of clothes you never wear, objects that just collect dust, furniture you hate, activities you don’t enjoy. Anything you can do to simplify your life helps reduce stress.
- Avoid reliance on chemical aids. Alcohol, smoking, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, etc. may reduce stress momentarily, but regular use increases stress in the long run.
- Get in touch. Hold hands, stroke a pet or hug a loved one. Physical contact is the best stress reliever of all
- Take time out to breathe deeply, stretch your muscles, nap, meditate or do a few tension-relieving exercises. If you can’t arrange a brisk walk, try raising your shoulders in a high shrug, hold ten seconds, release and repeat.
- Find enjoyable ways to exercise. Experts agree on the benefits of aerobic exercise -the kind that raises your heart rate and makes you breathe hard. But if you hate to jog or jump rope, you’ll create as much stress as you relieve. Try swimming, cycling, aerobic dancing, racquetball, or a few fast sets of tennis instead.
- Get it off your chest. Bottling up feelings just increases stress. If you buy defective merchandise or receive bad service, write a letter or complaint. If a friend lets you down, express your disappointment. If your husband hurts your feelings, tell him. You’ll feel a lot better afterward.
- Talk to a loving friend or relative. A sympathetic listener is always helpful. “When I have a birthday, one woman said, “I always call my grandmother. To her, I can do nothing wrong.”
- Reward yourself after stressful activities. Relax with a favorite television show or book after cleaning the house.
- Take leisurely baths. Showers are more efficient, but a long soak in a hot, fragrant bath is more relaxing. (Just unplug or turn off the phone first.)
- Schedule more fun. Don’t give up seeing friends and doing things you enjoy because you “have too much to do”. Pleasurable activities are important. And work goes faster and produces less stress when fun comes first.
- Take a break from the children. Babysitters are not just for emergencies or special occasions. You also need time to yourself to listen to music, pursue a hobby or have a heart- to-heart talk with a friend. If you can’t afford to hire a babysitter, trade child-care time with another mother.
- Have a massage. Tension just melts away under the touch of experienced fingers. But a talented amateur -a friend for whom you perform the same or an equivalent favor – can probably do almost as well.
- Unwind before bedtime. Do some stretching exercises to get the kinks out, then read, listen to music, and do needlework or some other relaxing activity. It helps you sleep better – and that’s a great stress reliever!