Ten Tips for Stress Management

Life’s myriad of changes often lead to an accumulation of stress. Here are ten tips for stress management, intended to be a compendium of simple, common sense strategies for transforming mental and physical tension into energy creatively and effectively expressed. None of these tips are new.

Many will be familiar to you, but we often need to be reminded. Note the stress management tips you’d like to remember more often. Then add your own to the list:

  1. Take Time for Yourself

    • Take time to be alone on a regular basis, to listen to your heart, check your intentions, re-evaluate your goals and your activities.
    • Plan to do something each day that gives you energy, something you love to do, something just for you.
    • Take frequent relaxation breaks.
    • Learn a variety of relaxation techniques and practice at least one regularly.
  2. Focus & Simplify

    • Simplify your life! Start eliminating the trivia.
    • Practice consciously doing one thing at a time, keeping your mind focused on the present. Do whatever you’re doing more slowly, more intentionally, and with more awareness and respect.
  3. Connect With Others

    • When you’re concerned about something, talk it over with someone you trust, or write down your feelings.
    • Create and maintain a personal support system — people with whom you can be "vulnerable."
    • Seek out friends or professional help when you feel unable to cope.
    • Practice stress management communication: clarify what you hear by paraphrasing ("I understand you to be saying ...") and active listening. Use "I want" instead of "I need," and "I choose to," rather than "I have to." Feel the difference in your mental attitude and your body when you do this.
  4. Stay in Touch with Yourself

    • Say "no" when asked to do something you really don’t want to do. Read a book on assertiveness if you have trouble doing this in a firm but kind way.
    • Become more aware of the demands you place on yourself, your environment, and on others to be different from how they are at any moment. Demands are tremendous sources of stress.
  5. Take Care of Your Body

    • Exercise regularly!
    • Monitor your intake of sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol.
    • Take deep, slow breaths frequently, especially while on the phone, in the car, or waiting for something or someone. Use any opportunity to relax and revitalize yourself.
    • Treat yourself to a massage or learn to massage your own neck, shoulders, and feet.
  6. Connect With the World Around You

    • Take time to be with nature, people, music, and children. Even in the city, noticing the seasonal changes of the sky or watching people’s faces can good ways to manage stress.
    • Watch clouds or moving water. Notice the silence between sounds, the space between thoughts.
  7. Be Open to Learning about Yourself

    • When you find yourself repeatedly angry in similar situations, ask yourself, "What can I learn from this?" Anyone or anything that can make you angry is showing you how you yourself let yourself be controlled by expectations of how someone or something should be. When we accept others, ourselves, and situations for what they are, we become more effective in influencing them to change in the way that we’d like them to.
    • Use your own distress to teach yourself to be more patient, caring, and compassionate toward yourself and others.
    • Choose not to waste your precious present life on guilt about the past or concern for the future.
  8. Stay Positive

    • Carry a card with four or five personal affirmations written on it (for example, I am calm and relaxed. I am confident and capable of handling any situation, etc.)
    • Remember to use helpful clichés such as, "In a hundred years, who will know the difference?" "What doesn’t weaken us makes us stronger," or "Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right."
  9. Take Control of Your Time

    • Organize your life to include time for fun, spontaneity, and open spaces. Set a realistic schedule allowing some transition time between activities. Eliminate unnecessary commitments.
    • Learn to delegate responsibility.
    • If your schedule is busy, prioritize your activities and do the most important ones first.
    • When you read your mail, act on it immediately, don’t put it off.
    • Remember, it takes less energy to get an unpleasant task done right now than to worry about it all day.
  10. Don’t Forget to Have Fun

    • Smile and laugh more.
    • Remember to stop and smell the flowers.

If you follow these ten tips for stress management, over time you will find that your ability to manage stress in your life will greatly improve.

[Adapted from the book "The Fine Arts of Relaxation, Concentration, and Meditation" by Joel & Michelle Levey]

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