While stress is inevitable, there are actions that can be taken that will reduce the levels of stress in our lives.
- Learn How to Say No – a significant contributing factor to the stress level in many people’s lives is the tendency to take on responsibilities and tasks that they don’t want or can’t do. Learning how to say “no” can be one of the healthiest things people can do for themselves.
- Don’t Take Work Home with You – learning how to separate work and/or school from home life can be a difficult skill to master. It is important for people to be able to take a break from responsibilities so they can devote their undivided attention to the environment and situation in which they are currently involved.
- Try to Limit the Number of Changes With Which You are Coping at any Given Time – some people decide to improve their lives and try to make a number of changes at once. Frequently the result is that people become so anxious and tense trying to handle so many changes at once, that nothing actually gets changed. This result can lead to feelings of failure and, therefore, actually increase stress. Be realistic about decisions, and make choices that are likely to result in a success.
- Anticipate Changes Before They Occur – because change is frequently frightening for people, many people avoid preparing themselves for things they know they will have to deal with eventually. Avoiding denial and/or procrastination allows people to prepare in a thoughtful and deliberate way for change.
- Learn Time Management and Organizational Skills – one of the simplest ways to reduce stress is to learn strategies and techniques to manage your time, and to organize yourself, your files, and your belongings.
- Become More Assertive – assertive behavior is much less stressful than passive or aggressive behavior.
When we worry about things excessively, think negatively, and set unrealistic expectations for ourselves or others, we are burdening ourselves with extra stress. Therefore, if we change those thoughts and beliefs, we increase our ability to manage our stress effectively.
- Reduce Self-imposed Demands – Many people use terms like “should,” or “ought to” throughout the day. Instead of helping them do the things that need to be done, these kinds of statements make people feel guilty and pressured. Simply changing the “shoulds” to “will” or “will not” removes the judgmental tone that tends to wear people down.
- Control Your Negative Thinking – Learn to recognize when your thinking is unrealistic and filled with thoughts that are based on personal beliefs and attitudes rather than an objective analysis of the situation. Once you recognize this type of pattern, you can then change your thinking into healthy and reality-based thought patterns.
- Limit the Time You Spend Worrying – although worrying is a natural tendency we all have, it does nothing to solve a problem, and it is very easy to fall into the trap of worrying excessively about things. One way to control this tendency is to set aside a limited amount of time during the day to worry. When your mind starts to head in this direction at other times of the day, you can remind yourself that you have a specific time set aside to indulge yourself in this activity.
- Set Realistic Expectations for Yourself – when we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves and others, (e.g., “I have to be liked by everyone,”, “if people don’t do everything I want them to do it means they don’t really care about me”), we impose pressure on ourselves. Also, this type of thinking makes us extremely vulnerable to low self-esteem. Who can always do their best or be liked by everyone? Realistic expectations help us feel better about ourselves and reduce stress we create in our own mind.
- Stop Procrastinating – quite often when we procrastinate about doing something, we end up spending more energy than we would if we just dealt with it right away. Many people also feel worse about themselves when they continuously put things off. Instead of motivating them, this makes it even less likely that they will do the thing they have been avoiding. Whenever possible, do it today rather than putting it off.
Develop Problem-Solving Skills
Many of the stresses we face cannot (or should not) be avoided. Therefore, it is important to know how to be proactive and deal with stressful situations directly.
- Set clear goals
- Collect all the information needed to form a plan of action
- Divide large tasks into smaller ones
- Develop a schedule to complete tasks
- Acknowledge your progress after each task is completed
- Evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy and make any revisions to your plan as required