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St John's Counselling Guide to coping with stress

How to Reduce, prevent, and Cope with Stress  

 

 

If you’re living with high levels of stress, you’re putting your entire well-being at risk. Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional equilibrium, as well as your physical health. It narrows your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life.

The goal of stress management is to bring your mind and body back into balance. By adopting a positive attitude, learning healthier ways to cope, and changing the way you d

eal with stress, you can reduce its hold on your life.

 

Change the situation

 

 

·         Avoid the stressor.

 

 

·         Alter the stressor.

 

Change your reaction

 

 

·         Accept the stressor.

 

 

·         Adapt to the stressor.

 

 

In our frenetic, fast-paced world, many people deal with frequent or even constant stress. The over extended working mother, the hard-charging “Type A” personality, the self-critical perfectionist, the chronic worrier: they’re always wound up, always stretched to the breaking point, always rushing around in a frenzy or juggling too many demands.

 

Dealing with Stressful Situations

 

While it may seem that there’s nothing you can do about your stress level—the bills aren’t going to stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day for all your errands, your career will always be demanding—you have a lot more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management.

 Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun—and the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.

 

 Stress management strategy 1: Avoid unnecessary stress

 

Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.

 

  ·         Learn how to say “no”Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to reaching them. Taking on m

ou can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.

 

 

·         Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.

 

 

·         Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.

 

 

·         Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”

 

 

·         Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.

  •  Seak Professional Advice. If you have a limited support resource of people to talk to or if you feel you are not listened to, then speaking to a counsellorwho is a trained listener will help you to make sense of your thoughts.






 

 

 


 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 ore than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress.

 

 ·       Avoid people who stress you out – If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.

·         Take control of your environment If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online. 
·         Avoid hot-button topics
If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list. If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion. 
·         Pare down your to-do list
Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.

 

 

 Stress management strategy 2: Alter the situation

 

 If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem is avoided in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.

 

 

·         Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same.

 

 

·         Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.

 

 

·         Be more assertive. Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk.

 

·         Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead, you can avoid these stress-inducing pitfalls.

 

Time management tips to reduce stress

 

 

Create a balanced schedule

 

 

All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary pursuits, daily responsibilities and downtime.

 

 

Don’t over-commit yourself

 

 

Avoid scheduling things back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day. All too often, we underestimate how long things will take.

 

 

Prioritize tasks

 

 

Make a list of tasks you have to do, and tackle them in order of importance. Do the high-priority items first. If you have something particularly unpleasant to do, get it over with early. The rest of your day will be more pleasant as a result.

 

 

Break projects into small steps

 

 

If a large project seems overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan. Focus on one manageable step at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.

 

 

Delegate responsibility

 

 

You don’t have to do it all yourself, whether at home, school, or on the job. If other people can take care of the task, why not let them? Let go of the desire to control or oversee every little step. You’ll be letting go of unnecessary stress in the process.

 

Stress management strategy 3: Accept the things you can’t change
 

Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.
 

 

·         Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control— particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.

 

·         Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.

·         Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend ormake an appointment with a therapist. E

xpressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.

·         Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.

 

 


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