More and more we are becoming busier and busier. Everyone feels overwhelmed at one time or another, but you shouldn’t feel like that every day. In this time of an uncertain economy, we are expected to work longer, harder and faster in our jobs. Plus, people’s personal lives aren’t getting any less demanding. Your kids or teens still need help with homework or maybe you have an ailing family member or friend that needs special attention and time from you.
After you give your time to everyone else; your spouse, your kids, your employees and your family members you probably don’t feel like you have anything left to give yourself, and you feel as though you aren’t doing a “good enough job” of balancing everything. This can make you feel like you aren’t in control and can lead to feelings of high stress.
But you have a lot more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management. Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal for anyone is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on – with one area of your life not having to constantly give for another.
Stress management starts with determining sources of stress in your life. Take responsibility for your stress and try not to blame others for it – sometimes the sources aren’t as obvious as you think. Look closely at your own habits, attitude and excuses. Sometimes it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining your stress, your level of stress will remain out of your control.
Everyone has a unique response to stress, so there is not one easy solution and everyone will need to use different techniques and strategies. While there are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, a common theme is these strategies require change. Whether you decide to change the situation or change your reaction, it’s helpful to think of the four As: avoid, alter, adapt or accept. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.
Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.
If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.
Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come.
The above stress management tips are adapted from HelpGuide.org.
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