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OTHER ITA SITES:
A Dozen Stress Reducers For You
If you are familiar with the concept of “Inside Out Thinking,” then you already know that I don’t conceptualize stress as something that exists outside of you. It is actually something you create inside. Stress is a behavior you create to help you get something you want. The only way to reduce stress is to empower yourself to take control of what you can control—namely your actions and your thoughts. You may not believe you can control what you think but with patience, persistence and practice it is not only possible but critical to maintaining a positive state of mental health.
Because the holidays are often a stressful time of the year for many, I wanted to give you a dozen ideas for things you can do or think differently to help reduce your stress level.
1. Rational Thinking—often irrational thoughts contribute to your stress levels. What are irrational thoughts? Things like “everyone must like me for me to be worthwhile.” Or, “I have to complete everything on my ‘To Do’ list everyday in order to be a success.” Or, “I can’t let anyone in my house unless it is spotless.” Irrational thoughts are not true—that’s why they are called irrational. However, you can actually convince yourself these beliefs are true, and when you believe them your stress level can soar. For example, if I actually think the only way for me to be worthwhile is if every person I meet likes me, can you imagine the stress I will create for myself trying to get everyone to like me? Check your thinking and make sure your thoughts are rational. You may need to ask someone you trust to help you with this because if you actually believe the irrational thoughts, then you will have a difficult time recognizing they are irrational.
2. Inside Out Thinking—Instead of spending your time focused on things over which you have no control, look at the situation and choose the best response available to you. The only things you really have control over is what you do and what you think. You really can’t change others. Make sure you take a proactive approach to life’s situations by looking at what you can do or think differently to improve the situation. This also means no longer pointing the finger outside of you for the source of your problem or unhappiness. If you are in pain over something, then it is your responsibility to fix it the best you can.
3. Time Management—find a time management system that works for you and implement it. You have the same amount of time in a day as everyone else, yet some people are far more productive than others. They have discovered a way to maximize their moments to get the most out of each of them. There are many time management experts out there who have different systems. However, I think time management is similar to dieting. There is not a one size fits all approach. You need to find a system that works for you and follow it.
4. Fun Activities—make a list of things you love to do: pleasurable activities. When was the last time you engaged in them? Taking care of yourself and making sure you schedule some “me” time is essential to keeping stress at bay. Even though you may think you have no time for pleasure, taking that time will increase your productivity when you do get down to business.
5. Relaxation—do you meditate, visualize your “happy place,” get massage or do some deep muscle relaxation? This is a sure way to reduce stress. When you get good at meditation and relaxation, it is something you can do in a very short period of time almost anywhere. It’s a great skill to develop and it will substantially help you manage the stress in your life.
6. Exercise—there has been a lot of research that shows a regular exercise program can be helpful in managing the negative, physical symptoms of stress. This does not have to be any strenuous exercise. It could be as simple as going for a walk but physical activity provides a release of the stored energy of stress.
7. Healthy Living—there are some known links to substances that stress our bodies. If you reduce or eliminate these things from your lifestyle, you will reduce physical stress. Some things to look at are drugs, alcohol, nicotine, sugar and caffeine. If you use any of these substances on a moderate or higher level, you can be creating stress for yourself.
8. Sense of Humor—when you can find the humor in stressful situations, you can laugh your way through life. Laughing releases the body’s natural endorphins and will ward off potential stress before it even begins. It is most helpful when you can laugh at yourself and find humor in everyday situations.
9. Support System—having a healthy support system will help. You need to decrease the toxic people in your life and increase the nourishing ones. We all have those who will suck the life out of us if we let them and then there are others who will support us in our time of need. Look at reducing the former and expanding the latter.
10. Assertiveness—develop the ability to take care of your needs without interfering with others getting their needs met. Be able to say “no” when it will best support you. You can stress yourself out when you always put other people’s needs and desires ahead of your own.
11. Experience the Arts—there is something about the arts that will sooth many. It could be music, art, dance, or nature’s art but setting aside time to appreciate life’s beauty can act as an immunization against stress.
12. Spirituality—develop a personal sense of your spirituality. This does not necessarily have to be religion. It can be a calm, a peace, a sense of the order of life. When things get stressful, you can rely on your spirituality to help you through. You may develop beliefs about everything happening for a reason, the Higher Power will take care of things or there are always positive experiences with the negative. Spirituality can help you make sense of things that otherwise wouldn’t make sense.
Stress is not inevitable. You definitely do NOT have to be a victim of it. Know that you are choosing it. Know that you are getting something from it and then make a conscious decision about whether or not you want to continue on your same path or do something different.
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