You can’t eliminate all stress from your life, but you can learn to manage it. Some stresses are good, like weddings, the birth of a baby, promotions, and some are bad, like layoffs, divorces, deaths, and so on. Symptoms of stress include anxiety, feeling scared, irritability, and moodiness. You can also become forgetful, have trouble concentrating or focusing, and have low self-esteem. Behaviors include stuttering and other speech problems, changing eating patterns (either losing your appetite or overeating), grinding your teeth, increased use of alcohol or drugs, and crying for no apparent reason.There are some things you can do to manage the amount of stress in your life. For example, time management can be an issue. If you are perpetually running late to things, that can be stressful – particularly if you get to work late on a regular basis. Most bosses don’t appreciate that. You can adjust your schedule in ways that make it possible to get to work in a timely fashion:
- Go to bed 15 minutes earlier and get up 15 minutes earlier.
- Lay out your clothes the night before.
- Be sure that everything you need to take with you is in one place the night before.
Pay attention to what stresses you. Do you get stressed in traffic? If so, why? Is it because you are running late? If it is, look at ways to adjust your schedule – or ways you can manage your time better in the morning. Are you stressed by a crying child? Are you just overtired? Can you call someone to help you and give you a break? Put the child down somewhere safe, like a crib, for 10 minutes and take a small break. Are you stressed about a big project? Break it down into smaller steps, then break those down into smaller steps and continue this process until you have manageable steps to follow to finish the project.
Look for ways to strengthen your physical reserves. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep as often as you can. Go to bed earlier and go to bed at the same time every night; you should find that you feel better if you stick to a routine. Get exercise as many days a week as you can; a recent study found that even 30 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week helps. Eat healthy meals; you’ll feel better if you avoid fast food and junk food as much as possible. Watch your caffeine intake; it can increase nervousness and cause irritability. Don’t forget to laugh – watch a funny movie, read a funny book, watch comedians…laughter can be very helpful. In addition, try keeping a journal or just writing out what you are feeling or going through; you don’t even need to keep it if you don’t want to do so. Sometimes the simple act of writing it out will relieve stress.
Some resources online:
- Coping with Stress
- Stress Management, Causes of Stress and Handling Anxiety Attacks
- Creative Stress Management Activities