Tag Archives: Stress

6 Secrets of Stress Management

As the weather begins to warm-up, we’re making our summer vacation plans. The past two years of restrictions and lock-downs put something of a crimp in our usual vacation travel.

Instead of sitting around moaning about our circumstances, we took advantage of the break. We engaged in a few more hobby activities than normal. We tackled a few jobs around the house and went out for more nieghbourhood walks than usual.

This year we have plans. We’re looking forward to visiting family and getting our camping in our trailer.

Right now, I’m sitting here, enjoying a coffee and taking it easy, I’m thinking about stress. We all have stress; there’s no way to avoid it. In fact, some degree of stress is a good thing. Just as the stress of weights during exercise can help build muscle, so life-stress can build emotional, psychological or mental “muscle”.

Stress becomes a problem when it controls us. If you want to remain balanced, you need to manage the stress in your life.

How do you do that? Here are six secrets of stress management:

  1. Know yourself: If you don’t have a clear sense of who you are and what you stand for, people and circumstances will try to shape you. Trying to be someone or something you are not is stressful.
  2. Set clear goals: Define what you want or need to do. If there’s a big, undefined task looming in your subconscious, you’re going to be stressed about not getting it accomplished. Setting clear goals allows you to see the end and set the steps toward reaching the goal. Just meeting each of the milestones leading to a completed task can go a long way to reducing stress.
  3. Set your priorities: You can’t do everything all at once. You can set your goals and know the steps to reach those goals, but if you don’t know where to begin, you’re going to build stress. Figure out the priorities and you’ll know where to begin.
  4. Set your focus: Once you know where to begin, focus on that task. If you try and focus on more than one thing at a time, all things will suffer.
  5. Delegate: You can’t do it all yourself. You can plan a major project, set all the steps, plan dates for the deliverables and then stress over all that needs doing. Get the team involved. Even Jesus enlisted 12 disciples.
  6. Relax: Take a break. Successful weight-trainers know constant stress on the muscles will soon become counter-productive and even damaging. They know their muscles need to have periods of relaxation to get the best benefit from training. Stress can compound. You need to take breaks to relax and refresh, thereby coming back stronger.

Stress is never eliminated, but it can be managed and controlled. A few simple steps and you can make stress work to your advantage.

5 Tips to Help Avoid Personal Burnout

For a long time, I was overweight, had high blood pressure and my doctor was concerned about my triglyceride levels.

The solution to this was simple: eat less and exercise more. However, that’s easier said than done. I’m not a Type-A personality and that’s probably the only thing that keeps my stress levels under control.

COVID-19 came along and some of life’s bus(y)ness was put on hold. My weight was at an all-time high, and it was time to do something about it. I started exercising regularly and eating less. Over the space of about six months, I was able to take off twenty-five pounds.

I still have some room to shrink and continue to maintain good habits. In addition to the weight-loss, there are other benefits. My blood pressure is under control. I’m still taking medication, but I’m not experiencing times where the numbers are high. I’m sleeping better and have more energy. And I am not stressed about things.

I’ve learn some lessons. These five behaviours are important for keeping stress under control.

1. Get enough sleep and rest.

Sleep is as important to a healthy lifestyle as eating properly and exercising. Studies have suggested that too little sleep may increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and depression. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the simplest things you can do to stay healthy.

2. Exercise.

Regular physical activity provides many health benefits: reducing heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and many other diseases and metabolic conditions. Regular exercise is also beneficial for weight reduction and maintenance and may improve brain chemistry to reduce depression.

3. Get rid of the excess pounds.

There are many benefits to losing weight. Keeping at the ideal weight for your height will help maintain lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure. You will also lower your risk of health problems such as type II diabetes and heart disease, as well as increase your life expectancy.

4. Eat a balanced diet.

A well-balanced diet is a necessary part of preserving health and reducing stress. A balanced diet includes fruit and vegetables. milk and dairy products, quantities of carbohydrates, vitamins, salts, and minerals. A resource, such as Canada’s Food Guide has all the information you need to help you eat healthy.

5. Take care when you’re ill.

Regardless of age, people are wise to undergo annual physical examinations. While annual physicals cannot ensure that a person will not become ill, the examinations often enable doctors to spot diseases in the early stages. In many cases the early detection of disease can make possible the cure or diminishing of disease.

Often, illness is the body’s way of telling you to slow down. It’s important to pay attention to the message. If you have a cold or flu, take the time to recuperate.

As I write, this is a wake-up call to me. I need to work harder to get my health and fitness under control. If you find yourself dealing with stress and burnout, look to see which of the above behaviours need adjusting.

Stress Management Techniques

Living is inherently stressful, but how we manage it will determine the number and severity of the stress related symptoms we experience. Many people don’t recognize the symptoms or choose to ignore them. Stress related symptoms can be broken down into four major categories. These include:

A. Emotional

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Depression

B. Congnitive

C. Physical

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Change in appetite
  • Muscle tension
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Weight change
  • Decreased sexual interest

D. Behavioral

  • Increased substance (i.e., alcohol, drug) use
  • Social isolation
  • Conflict with others

These symptoms are your body’s way of telling you something is wrong and you need to pay attention to them. Symptoms that are ignored ultimately lead to much more serious health problems. To reduce both stress related symptoms and the chances of developing these serious stress related disorders, try the following strategies.

Coping Strategies:

Deep Breathing – When you are under stress, you tend to breathe both more quickly and more shallow. Taking slow deep breaths will induce the relaxation response. Breathe in and out to the count of four or five and you will begin to feel a sense of relaxation fill your mind and your body.

Other Relaxation Techniques – These include progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training, deep muscle relaxation, imagery training, biofeedback, and self-hypnosis.

Develop a Calm Focus – Focus on something in your environment that is pleasant, beautiful, or calming. This could be something visual such as a painting, tree, or flower or it could be something that stimulates your other senses such as a pleasant smell or taste. Experience fully whatever it is you are focusing on.

Focus on the Positive – A lot of stress is created by focusing on the negative in the world around you or in your own life. Train yourself to look for the positive. For example, take inventory each day of what went right, rather than focusing on the problems you had or mistakes you made.

Reduce or Eliminate Stimulants – Two of the most commonly used stimulants are caffeine and nicotine. If stress is an issue for you, then reducing or eliminating these substances from your body will go a long way toward reducing your stress level.

Be Realistic – Lots of stress comes from trying to control events or people you can’t control, or by not controlling those things within your control. If the stressor is under your control, develop a plan to overcome it. If it is not, learn to accept it rather than experience the frustration comes from trying to change it.

Positive Affirmations – What we say to ourselves has an impact on our stress levels and our perception of being able to cope. Change those aspects self-talk based on fear or anxiety rather than fact. Replace them with realistic self-statements and practice daily positive affirmations.

Live in the Now – Much of our stress is created by living in the past or worrying about the future. Develop a ”one-day-at-a-time” mind set, since you can only really control the present anyway.

Keep a Journal – Instead bottling up your feelings and thoughts express them in a journal, which will provide a sense of relief and could serve as the first step in a more problem-solving process to resolving underlying issues.

Laugh – Laughter is considered one of the best medicines for stress. Seek out humorous books, TV shows, movies or life situations that will bring humor into your life. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself and your mistakes.

Get Support – One of the best ways to combat stress is to develop and rely on a support system. Whether family, relatives or friends, talking to any of these people is a great way to minimize stress.

Health Eating – Although most people today realize that our diet has a big impact on our physical health, fewer people are aware of how much it affects our resistance to stress. Eating a healthy and well balanced diet is like giving ourselves an immunity to stress.

Manage Your Time – A major source of stress for many people is being over-committed limiting the time available for rest and relaxation. Develop a reasonable schedule, which includes both productive activity and fun or relaxing activities, can significantly reduce stress.

Be Physically Active – Exercise and other physical activity can both significantly reduce stress and prevent the negative effects of stress. Exercise releases endorphins into your blood stream, which produces a natural ”high” that leaves you calmer and less stressed.

Find Solitude – Time on your own is an important strategy to manage your stress. This is particularly true if your day is filled with a lot of contact with other people.

Confront Rather Than Ignore – As a short-term solution to stress, many people simply try to ignore life problems. Unfortunately, problems you ignore tend to get worse over time Problem-solving is a skill that develops with practice, so refine your skill.

Take Control – Learn to express your feelings, values, and beliefs openly and honestly, in a way that respects the rights of others. This particularly applies if you have difficulties saying no to other people and become overwhelmed with tasks that you don’t really want to take on.

Slow Down – As society’s pace continues to increase, step back and slow down the pace of your life.  Slowing down can actually increase our performance and enjoyment of the work we do.

Spirituality – Developing a spiritual life can help reduce stress in a number of ways. Spirituality can help you deal with some of the more existential questions about life. As well, prayer or meditation can have a relaxing effect on the body.

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10 tips for busting stress

Do you have trouble remembering things? Are you having trouble sleeping or is your stomach in knots? Are you sleeping too little or too much? All of these can be symptoms of stress. A certain amount of stress is good –or

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even necessary– for all of us, but it is easy for it to get out of hand. Here are a few simple tips that can help you deal with stress.

  1. Evaluate the situation. How important is this activity to the overall goals and direction for my life? If it’s not really that important, don’t sweat it.
  2. Be positive. Positive thoughts can generate positive results and negative thoughts, negative results. Even something as simple as changing your perception from, “I have to get the done by Monday,” to ” I am going to get this done by Monday” can make a big difference.
  3. Visualize a successful outcome. Rather than focusing on the pressure of finishing a task, focus on the benefit or reward that will come from completion.
  4. Reward yourself. If the situation or project doesn’t have an intrinsic benefit or reward, create one. “Once I’ve finished painting the bedrooms, I’m going to spend a day relaxing at the beach.”
  5. Change the things that cause you stress. For those stressors that can be changed, do so. If you hate going to the supermarket at peak shopping times, reschedule for quiet periods. If lack of sleep adds to your tension, get to bed earlier.
  6. Strive for excellence, not perfection. Recognize that any number of factors can affect the perfect completion of a job. Strive to make your work the best in can be under the circumstances.
  7. Take care of your health. A fit body responds better to stress.
  8. Have fun. Play as hard as you work. Develop a sense of humour. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  9. Have a quiet place. Go somewhere that takes you away from the things that cause your stress. Have a peaceful corner at home. Take a walk in a park. Get away from the office at lunch hour and sit on a bench.
  10. Talk to someone. A friend or family member can be a good place to get things of your chest. In more serious situations, perhaps a support group or a counsellor is in order.
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