By Alison Blackman aka. Advice Sister Alison
So you’re starting out the new year feeling good and so motivated. But inevitably, something or someone is going to burst that fluffy cloud, that pink bubble of determination, energy and happiness.And when it happens, what happens next is usually STRESS. Living in the real world means that stress happens to most people, at least some of the time. Oh! If only we could ditch it to the curb the moment it takes hold!!!! Well, maybe that isn’t realistic, but here are 12 things you can do to help you deal with stress and reduce it, if not get rid of it entirely. Which ones will work best for you? Maybe all of these, at different times. So take a deep breath, read on, and put these easy strategies in the back of your mind, for when you really need to “deal.”
1. Talk! Don’t hold all your feelings within! Discuss your stressful feelings with someone you trust who will listen without being judgmental or pressuring you to their own point of view. Even if you can’t change the immediate situation, talking about it helps alleviate some of the tension you may be feeling. If there’s no one around that you really want to talk to, try your pet. They won’t give you verbal feedback, but they’re good listeners, and they’ll validate your feelings with all the tools they have. ISupplement the verbal purging with physical action by writing out your feelings in a letter (but do NOT hit the “SEND” button).
2. ACT! Be willing to take risk and make change, no matter how small. Try to change the stressful situation, or at least some part of it bu doing something about it. The more you think about something that is stressing you out without doing anything about it, the larger and more stressful it becomes. Moving forward in small ways helps you feel empowered and in control. Put one foot in front of the other to move in a positive direction. Soon, the stress will lessen.
3. RELAX! If you learn about how your body reacts to stress, you can also learn how to counter that stress. Learn to listen to your body’s signals and find ways to reduce your stress, even if it’s just “taking five” to clear your mind. Relaxation exercises (E.g. Yoga, meditation, physical exercise) help, too.
4. BE IN CHARGE! Discover what you need to feel good about yourself and get your needs met. It is amazing how learning the word “NO” can change the way you feel (you don’t have to be nasty,just firm). Another way to reduce your stress is to find an interest, hobby or activity where you feel in charge and call the shots, and often this will keep you busy so you will have an excuse not to do extra tasks you really don’t want to do but had no way to refuse before.
5. DON’T OVERWHELM YOURSELF: If you are stressed and overwhelmed, perhaps you are trying to handle too much. Rid yourself of extra duties that aren’t necessary or important. (see above). Ask yourself if that task is really the most important thing you need to be doing right now. If it isn’t, it can wait. And learn to ask for help if you need it.
6. ESCAPE! A change of venue can really clear your head and let you see things more clearly. You don’t have to take a long, elaborate trip to do this (although that’s nice). Sometimes all you have to do is take a small escape from your immediate surroundings and that change, however small, can do wonders for your spirit. When things just start to feel like they are becoming “too much,” just walk away for a short while. Almost anything can wait 60 or 90 minutes. Go somewhere new for a few hours, or a few days if you can afford to. If not, it may be helpful just to “get away” to a warm bath for a little while! Visit the search box in the top right hand corner of this page and type in any kind of spa related item (e.g. bath gel, candle, aromatherapy) and see all the reviews of products we have done in past years on this web site. For even older reviews,visit the Advice Sisters What Works Beauty and Fashion review archives that go back to 1998!
7. PRIORITIZE: You may not be able to avoid all the responsibilities obligations you currently have, but you can learn how to complete them without resentment and consciously choose how you will handle them. Learn to negotiate. Some people end up over-burdened simply because they never speak up and others assume they’re just fine with all the added tasks and responsibilities.
8. EXTEND YOURSELF: Make your own life better by making someone else’s life better. Give of yourself. Volunteer! You will feel empowered, positive, important…and you will be!
9. MAKE SUCCESS HAPPEN! If you can’t change the world, change yourself! Learn how to love yourself as you are, while you work towards your goals. Then, make a commitment to yourself to start improving the things about yourself and your life that (you believe) need it. Instead of immediate, dramatic change, learn to enjoy the journey of lifelong self-improvement. You are always a work in progress.
10. SOCIALIZE: Spend time with family and friends for love and support. Don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself! Appreciate friendship and let others know you care about them, too. Love may not conquer all, but it’s a great start!
11. LEARN HOW TO BE HAPPY: One thing all of life’s winners have in common is a sense of well-being, a positive attitude and realistic goals. Focus on the good things about yourself, and in your life. Nobody’s perfect. Learn to enjoy the “little things” that make you happy. Count your blessings. Every day, write down on a slip of paper one thing you are grateful for, even if it’s just a sunny day, a friend’s phone call, your cat’s happy purr. Put this “blessing” in a jar along with a dollar or more. Do this for one month. At the end of the month read all those slips of paper and you will realize that life is better than you think! Use the money to do something really special for yourself, or donate it to charity.
12: IS YOUR STRESS REAL? There are things in the real world that are genuine causes of stress, but often people tend to feel stress about things that are assumed, in their minds, and there is no real reason for it. So ask yourself: “am I stressing out about something serious and real and valid, or am I making assumptions about something that might not even be true?” Get the facts, before you freak out!