Coping with stress
The effects of stress build up over time. Taking practical steps to maintain your health and outlook can reduce or prevent these effects. Try the following tips to help you cope:
- Try positive self-talk – turning negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, rather than thinking “I can’t do this,” say “I’ll do the best I can.”
- Take 15 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly, relax, breathe deeply and think of a peaceful situation.
- Engage in physical activity regularly. Do what you enjoy — walk, swim, ride a bike or do yoga. Letting go of the tension in your body will help you feel a lot better.
- Try to do at least one thing every day that you enjoy, even if you only do it for 15 minutes.
How can I live a more relaxed life?
It’s important to learn how stress affects you, how to deal with it and what you can do to ease your stress. What is stressful to one person may not be to another. Stress can come from happy events (a new marriage, job promotion or a new home) as well as unhappy events (illness, overwork or family problems).
Here are some positive healthy habits that might help you lead a more relaxed life:
- Think ahead about what may upset you and things you can avoid. For example, spend less time with people who bother you or avoid driving in rush-hour traffic.
- Learn to say “no.” Don’t promise too much.
- Give up the bad habits. Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase stress. If you smoke, make the decision to quit now.
- Slow down. Try to “pace” not “race.” Plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done.
- Get enough sleep. Try to get 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Get organized. Use “To-Do” lists to help you focus on your most important tasks. Approach big tasks one step at a time.
Other tips to manage stress
- Seek help from a qualified mental health care provider if you are overwhelmed, feel you cannot cope, have suicidal thoughts or are using drugs or alcohol to cope.
- Get proper health care for existing or new health problems.
- Stay in touch with people who can provide emotional and other support. Ask for help from friends, family, and community or religious organizations to reduce stress due to work burdens or family issues, such as caring for a loved one.
- Explore stress coping programs, which may incorporate meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other gentle exercises.
Information courtesy of the American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health and FamilyDoctor.org.