Managing and Preventing Stress
A stress-free life is unrealistic, but we can limit the effect stress has on us based on how we view a situation and choose to handle it.
The first step, of course, is recognizing when you’re under stress. From there, you need to explore and understand some basic management options, implement them and, in some cases, make strategic lifestyle changes. For example, some of the most successful ways to manage stress are through relaxation practices, therapy and behavioral adjustments in your life.
Learning and practicing relaxation techniques will help you relax both mind and body. You can try more than one of these techniques to see which works best for you—either in person with others or on your own—and numerous smartphone apps offer everything from advice to instruction.
Practicing one of these techniques for as little as 10 to 15 minutes each day can have great health benefits:
- Tai chi
- Meditation, mindfulness and visualization
- Ecotherapy, or spending time in nature
Talk therapy treatments bring awareness to your thoughts and feelings by allowing you to voice your concerns to a trained professional. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you understand thought patterns, recognize specific trigger points and devise a positive action plan. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) combines mindfulness, meditation and yoga to reduce stress levels.
Behavioral change starts by better managing the known stressors in your life. It will also often involve reducing exposure to those stressors, committing to a positive attitude, eating well-balanced meals, exercising and getting enough sleep. Additionally, you may find yourself making changes in your interpersonal relationships by setting clear and firm expectations.
Some additional daily behaviors you can add or maintain are:
- Keeping a journal
- Avoiding excess caffeine, such as soft drinks or coffee
- Identifying and challenging negative and unhelpful thoughts
- Making time for hobbies and spending time with loved ones
- Reaching out to friends and family who help you cope in a positive way
One final preventive step you can take is learning to be optimistic, including engaging in positive self-talk. If you can be assertive with your thoughts and feelings, you can stay firm and not give way to limiting mindsets.