Learning to Manage Stress

stress managementStress can lead to getting sick more often; problems concentrating, sleeping and eating; high blood pressure and heart disease; and anxiety and depression. Learning to manage the stress in your life can help you live healthier and happier; enjoy your job, family, and friends more; and focus your energies on the things in life that really count.

Make a list. Think of the things that cause you the most stress. Write them down, along with the level of stress they cause (off the charts versus a great deal) and how they affect you (keep you awake at night, make you feel shaky inside, etc).

Take control. Decide which things on your list you can do something about. Remember that you might not be able to control everything on your list. Even though you can’t control these events, you can control how you react to them. Instead of getting worked up during morning rush hour traffic, use the time in your car to listen to a book on tape or a morning radio show.

Unload and learn to say "no." If there are things at home or at work that you just can’t or don’t want to do, let them go – cross them off your list if you can. And don’t commit to new things just because you feel you have to.

Learning to say "no" might take some practice. It might feel uncomfortable at first but you will feel better after. Don’t expect always perfection from yourself or others.

Practice setting limits. The key to setting limits is to first set priorities. Decide what is most important for your family and you, and set time aside for those things, such as family meals, fun time, or retirement planning. For everything that falls outside your priority list, ask yourself, "What’s happen if I don’t do this?" If you can live with the answer, then drop it from your ‘to do’ list.