Healthy Ways to Handle Stress

Short - Term Methods

  • Relax where you are. Sit in a comfortable position; rest your hands on top of your navel. Breathe deeply through your nose, feeling your hands rise as your abdomen fills with air. Still inhaling, count to three and feel your chest expand. Hold your breath momentarily, and then release it. Repeat four times, but stop if you become light-headed.
  • Take a break. Get some exercise or fresh air (simply a quick, brisk walk outdoors if possible), or go somewhere private and yell or cry.
  • Ask yourself whether it's worth being upset over the situation. You can choose to stay calm and ignore it. If the issue is important, confront it directly, talk it out with a sympathetic friend, or write it out in a letter you don't send.
  • List all the things you think you need to do right away. Then prioritize the list and only do the top few. The rest can be first priority tomorrow.

Long - Term Methods

  • Seek your own stress level. Strive for excellence within your limits.
  • Choose your own goals. Don't live out choices others have made for you.
  • Become part of a support system. Look out for yourself by letting friends help you when you are under too much stress and by helping them when they are overloaded.
  • Think positively. Your mind sends signals to your body to prepare for danger whenever you think about possible negative outcomes, and you become tense regardless of whether the event happens.
  • Exercise a sense of humor. Be able to laugh at yourself and laugh often. It renews one's spirit.
  • Make decisions. You can learn to live with the consequences or change your mind. In general, any decision -“ even consciously deciding to do nothing-“ is better than none.
  • Keep your expectations realistic. Don't expect perfection from yourself or others. Expect some problems reaching your goals and realize that you can solve most of them with practice.
  • Accept what you cannot change. If a problem is beyond your control, you're better off accepting it rather than spinning your wheels.
  • Anticipate potentially stressful situations and prepare for them. Decide whether the situation is one you should deal with, postpone, or avoid. If you decide to deal with the situation, practice what you will say and do.
  • Live in the present. Learn from the past and move on.
  • Manage your time. Prioritizing and planning can keep demands of life from becoming overwhelming.
  • Enjoy diversions. Participate in a hobby you enjoy as a diversion and a source of renewal...reading, music, exercising, painting, hiking, volunteer activities...whatever suits you.
  • Take care of your health. Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, limit caffeine and alcohol.
  • Take time for yourself. Make yourself your priority. Find time to relax -“ even if only for a few minutes -“ every day.
  • Employ natural methods. Use relaxation exercises, massage, hot baths/showers, aromas, and/or animal therapy.
  • Exercise your spirituality-faith. Take time to pray, meditate, reflect, worship, or create a quiet space for yourself.
  • Practice the ABC's of REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy): It is not necessarily the event that stresses us. It is what we think of/about the event. Try reframing (changing the way you think) about the event... looking for a positive aspect... and if done... expect a different consequence/new emotion compared to your first response.
  • Put your personal stress plan into action. You know what works for you...JUST DO IT! (Let someone you trust know about your plan and ask them to help you follow through with it. You will do the same for them.)

Suggested Internet sites:

View your stressful situation with the knowledge you can make decisions about it. Otherwise known as the
AAAbc's of Stress Management. You can decide to...

- A alter it... implies removing the source of stress by changing something

  • Problem solving, direct communications, organizing, planning and time management are common techniques for altering stress.

- A avoid it... implies removing oneself from the stressful situation or figuring out how not to get there in the first place

  • Walk away, let go, say "no", delegate, withdraw and know limits so you live to fight another day

- A accept it... involves equipping oneself for the stress by...

- B building your resistance
Physical resistance

  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Sleep and rest
  • Relaxation methods - techniques

Mental resistance

  • Positive affirmations
  • Taking time for mental health: hobbies, diversions
  • Exercising sense of humor
  • Getting clear about goals/values/priorities

Social resistance

  • Building and maintaining support systems
  • Investing in friendships - confidants
  • Clear communication and intimacy

Spiritual resistance

  • Prayer and/or meditation
  • Worship
  • Faith
  • Commitment

- C change your perception...your way of thinking about the stressor
Changing your way of thinking and behaving often requires some coaching from a counselor... being taught self-care with rational-emotive-behavior techniques. You may want to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors for a coaching session. Just call the Wellness Center at 447-5441 for an appointment.