Managing Your Stress

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Oct 27th, 11
Here are some helpful hints for managing your stress.

Ken Bailey, LMFT

Here’s an easy riddle to solve:
“It feeds on fear, promotes isolation, fuels anger, thrives on fatigue, sours our stomachs and hurts our hearts. What is it?” Yep, it’s stress.

Stress can be defined as our physical and emotional response to the environment. Basically it is the wear and tear we experience physically, emotionally and spiritually by bumping into life. In our country it is taking a great toll. Seven out of ten visits to medical professionals are for stress related problems. We know that stress often interferes with sleep, lack of sleep fuels a host of other problems and combined they diminish our energy, harm our relationships, damage our immune system and decrease our productivity.

We know several things about stress. First we know that not all stress is bad. There is good stress. It comes when there is a marriage to celebrate, or a job promotion, or the purchase of a new home. We also know that stress is not going away. Our society is plugged in and turned on 24/7. Since all stress isn’t bad, and stress isn’t going away, the best goal is to learn to effectively manage stress before it turns to distress.

Here are some stress management tips:

  • Improve your sleep patterns. Good sleep is essential to overall health.
  • Make music. A study at the Body-Mind Wellness Center in Maryland found that making music decreased stress more than reading or relaxing alone.
  • Write it out. Taking the time to write down your worries helps to focus and prioritize each situation. Many times, you will think of solutions while you are writing.
  • Just say no. Keep extra appointments or volunteer work off your calendar.
  • Take a walk. Even a quick 10-minute walk makes people feel less tired, less tense, and less irritable. Regular exercise increases both physical and mental fitness, making it easier to adapt to stressful situations.
  • Healthy diet. Eating foods that contain a variety of nutrients provides energy that allows you to concentrate on the task at hand. When you have a “snack attack,” try a handful of nuts, yogurt, or fruits.
  • Talk it out. Talking with a friend or EAP counselor can help eliminate confusion and focus on problem solving.
  • Take a lunch break. Leaving your work area for a short time clears your mind and allows you to be refreshed when you return.
  • Forgiving Attitude. Holding a grudge is stressful and physically harmful. By accepting the fact that people are not perfect and by forgiving them of past events, you free yourself of both anger and stress.
  • Breathing. If you feel yourself getting tense, try breathing deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Repeat 10 times, filling your lungs completely each time.
  • Stretch. Sitting for extended periods can be difficult. Get up and stretch periodically to reduce tension.
  • Right brain/Left brain. Emotional stress begins in the right side of the brain. Switch to your left brain by doing simple math problems, writing a paragraph, or organizing. This will help you calm down. If you are feeling time-stressed or over pressured (left brain), switch to the creative right brain by drawing, singing or playing a sport.

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