Stress basics (10)
- How to be happy: Tips for cultivating contentment
- Stress: Constant stress puts your health at risk
- Stress management: Identify your sources of stress
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Stress relief (23)
- Coping with stress: Workplace tips
- Social support: Tap this tool to beat stress
- Support groups: Make connections, get help
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Relaxation techniques (9)
- Massage: Get in touch with its many benefits
- Yoga: Fight stress and find serenity
- Tai chi: A gentle way to fight stress
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Need stress relief? Try the four A's
Increasing your ability to cope
For those cases in which the source of your stress can't be avoided or altered, try to adjust your ability to tolerate it.
Sometimes we have no choice but to accept things the way they are. For those times try to:
- Talk with someone. You may not be able to change a frustrating situation, but that doesn't mean your feelings aren't legitimate. Phone a friend or schedule a coffee break. You will feel better after talking it out.
- Forgive. It takes energy to be angry. Forgiving may take practice, but by doing so, you will free yourself from burning more negative energy. Why stew in your anger when you could shrug and move on?
- Practice positive self-talk. It's easy to lose objectivity when you're stressed. One negative thought can lead to another, and soon you've created a mental avalanche. Be positive. Instead of thinking, "I am horrible with money and will never be able to control my finances," try this: "I made a mistake with my money, but I am resilient. I'll get through it."
- Learn from your mistakes. There is value in recognizing a "teachable moment." You can't change the fact that procrastination hurt your performance, but you can register the regret to make sure you allot more time in the future.
The perception that you can't cope is actually one of the greatest stressors. That's why adapting — which often involves changing your standards or expectations — can be most helpful in dealing with stress.
- Adjust your standards. Do you really need to vacuum and dust twice a week? Would macaroni and cheese be an unthinkable substitute for homemade lasagna? Redefine success and perfection, and you may operate with a little less guilt and frustration.
- Practice thought-stopping. Stop gloomy thoughts immediately. Refuse to replay a stressful situation as negative, and it may cease to be negative.
- Reframe the issue. Try looking at your situation from a new reference point. Instead of feeling frustrated that you're home with a sick child, look at it as an opportunity to bond, relax and finish a load of laundry.
- Adopt a mantra. Create a saying such as, "I can handle this," and mentally repeat it in tough situations.
- Create an assets column. Imagine all of the things that bring you joy in life — vacation, children, pets. Then call on that list when you're stressed. It will put things into perspective and serve as a reminder of life's joys.
- Look at the big picture. Ask yourself, "Will this matter in a year? In five years?" The answer is often no. Realizing this makes a stressful situation seem less overwhelming.
Choosing the right technique
Stressors good and bad are a part of every life. Practice applying these techniques to balance your stress equation. With practice, that once-hefty backpack will become your private bag of tricks. Soon, you'll be able to pull out just the tool that will keep you hiking through life at a steady clip.Previous page
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- Miller LH, et al. The Stress Solution: An Action Plan to Manage the Stress in Your Life. New York, N.Y.: Pocket Books; 1993:86.
- Patel C. The Complete Guide to Stress Management. New York, N.Y.: Plenum Press; 1991:233.
- Stress management: How to reduce, prevent, and cope with stress. HelpGuide.org. http://helpguide.org/mental/stress_management_relief_coping.htm. Accessed May 20, 2010.