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Stress Management

Stress Defined

Stress is the "wear and tear" our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment; it has physical and emotional effects on us and can create positive or negative feelings.​​​​​​​​​​​

 

Positive Stress

As a positive influence, stress can help compel us to action; it can result in a new awareness and an exciting new perspective.​​​​​​​​​​ 

     

Negative Stress

As a negative influence, it can result in feelings of distrust, rejection, anger, and depression, which in turn can lead to health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, rashes, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. With the death of a loved one, the birth of a child, a job promotion, or a new relationship, we experience stress as we re-adjust our lives. In so adjusting to different circumstances, stress will help or hinder us depending on how we react to it.

How to Manage Stress

 

While positive stress adds anticipation and excitement to life, we all thrive under a certain amount of stress. The bills need to be paid, you have deadlines to meet plus your career and family responsibilities are taking there toll. But there is good news, even in the midst of these unknowns you have more control than you think. Come to think of it these stressors can add depth and meaning to your life.

 

Our objective is not to eliminate stress altogether but to learn to manage it and to use it to help us be better and more productive.Too much stress can be "stressful", not enough stress may lead to boredom and depression. An optimal level of stress can be an effective motivational factor when applied properly and put into perspective. Forget the "what ifs" and realize that you are in control of your life. Empowering yourself this way is the  foundation of stress management.

 

Managing stress is essentially your ability to take charge of every aspect of your life. What are you thinking about? Are you mastering your emotions? How do you deal with your environment and the problems that may arise on a daily basis? The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on

1.  Learn to moderate your physical reactions to stress

  • Breathe slowly and deeply to bring your heart rate and respiration back to normal.

 

  • Medications, when prescribed by a physician, can help in the short term in moderating your physical reactions. However, they alone are not the answer. Learning to moderate these reactions on your own is a preferable long-term solution.

 

  • Learn to forgive, and accept the fact that nobody is perfect so we all make mistakes. Free yourself from negative emotions such as anger and resentment by forgiving and moving on.

2. Build your physical reserves by adopting a healthy lifestyle

  • Exercise: You can effectively resist stress by improving/ strengthening your physical health. Doing moderate prolonged rhythmic exercise is a good choice and should include activities such as walking, swimming, jogging, or cycling. Exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times per week to release pent up emotions and tension. Sometimes you just need to take a walk; it will help clear your head.

 

  • Eat a healthy diet: A healthy body is better prepared to handle stress, so ensure that you are eating a balanced diet. Breakfast is a good place to start since this first meal keeps your energy levels up andproduces clarity of thought. It is also important that you have balanced meals throughout the day. While what you eat is important maintaining a healthy weight is important as well'

 

  • Reduce caffeine and sugar: Avoid excessive caffeine and other stimulants. The temporary "highs" caffeine and sugar provide often end with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.

 

  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs: Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.

 

  • Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally. If you are stressed you cannot sleep. Try to be consistent with your sleep patterns by having a scheduled bed time.

 

3.  Maintain your emotional reserves

 

  • Develop some mutually supportive friendships/relationships: Call your friend or someone you care about. You never know just speaking with them can make all the difference in the world. Pursue realistic goals which are meaningful to you, rather than goals others have for you that you do not share. Expect some frustrations, failures, and sorrows. Always be kind and gentle with yourself -- be a friend to yourself.

   

  • Make sure you associate with positive people who add value to your life: Having a strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress. If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.

 

  • Take a second look- A positive outlook is always a great idea. Everything happens for a reason even when it does not appear that way. Rather than flying off the handle when someone cuts you off at the traffic light use that as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite music, or enjoy some time alone. Healthy reflection is always a great way to look back at all the blessings in your life. This will help you keep things in perspective. Remember as a man thinks so his he. Every time you have a negative thought (self defeating) your body reacts and it upsets your natural balance. The reverse is also true, positive thoughts conjure up positive emotions, resulting in a positive reaction from your body. Avoid words such as "never", "cannot", "must" and "why".

 

  • Write in a journal. Expressing our feelings could be the best way to deal with stress. Keeping a journal is a way to capture those feelings at any moment. You don’t have to worry about what others think or say, just let your pen do the work. By the time you’re done, those feelings will be on their way out of your system.

 

  • Express your feelings instead of bottling them up- If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same.

 

  • Laugh a Lot. Laughter is good for stress. Don't lose your sense of humor. Its okay to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways. Watch a good comedy God wants us to enjoy the present moment and not to worry about the past or the future.

 

  • Play a board game: Bring out the kid in you again. Remember when life was a lot simpler? Well this is your opportunity to  "Shoot those Ladders' and play a game of "Dominoes or Scrabble". It's okay to take some time out for yourself and "Twist" a little.

 

  • Plan something fun: Maybe there is something that you've always wanted to do or some place you've always wanted to see. Take the trip, maybe for the weekend, depending on your budget. You will be amazed at how much fun you can have. You deserve it and not only will it be a distraction from "doing life" but think of all the fun you will have just preparing for it.

 

  • Set aside relaxation time- Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries. Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.

 

  • Take a nap: Even if this just means laying down in a quiet room for an hour, it will give your mind time to de-clutter and your body a chance to recoup.

 

4. "Work" it Out: Avoid unnecessary stress

  • Its alright to say "no"–  This applies to both your personal and professional life. Everyone has the right to set boundaries and limits. Help others to understand your limits and don't be afraid to let them know when they have stepped over the boundary. Trying to do more than you know you can handle just to please others is a surefire recipe for disaster ie. stress.

 

  • Take control of your environment– If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, buy your grocery online.

 

  • Avoid controversial topics– Limit your conversations to the neutral Zone. In other words, find topics that do not result in you getting hot under the collar. If you find that the topics you are discussing, with the same people results in you being upset. Either avoid those conversations all together or excuse yourself from the conversation when the topic is being discussed.

 

  • Redo your to-do list–  Take a good long look at your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, determine what is the "want to do" and the "must be done". Place  those tasks that are not a "must be done" to the bottom of the list or eliminate them all together.

 

  • Change the situation- If a stressful situation cannot be avoided, try to change it. Think about what it is that you can do to change things so that the problem is unlikely to reoccur later on. This may require changing some things in your life to accommodate this move.

 

  • Be willing to compromise- When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.

 

  • Manage your time better: Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under.

 

  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable: Many things in life are beyond our control— particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.

 

Resources and references for Stress Management:

 

  • Stress Management: How Do You React During Stressful Situations? Evaluate the way you react to stress and learn how to transform your negative responses. (Mayo Clinic)

  • Stress Management for Parents – Stress management suggestions for stressed-out parents, including fifty-two proven stress reducers. (Child Development Institute)

  • Stress management strategies

  • Assert Yourself – Self-help modules designed to help you reduce stress, depression, and anxiety by improving your assertiveness. (Centre for Clinical Interventions)

  • Put Off Procrastinating – Work your way through a self-help series on how to stop procrastination problems. (Centre for Clinical Interventions)

  • What Are Some Specific Stress Reduction Methods? – Simple stress reduction suggestions, including diet, exercise, and cognitive-behavioral techniques. (University of Maryland Medical Center)

  • Exercise Fuels the Brain's Stress Buffers – Explains how regular exercise helps reduce and manage stress levels. (American Psychological Association)

Cleanse- Wash your skin thoroughly on a daily basis to remove the dirt, debris,

pollutants, and perspiration that has accumulated. Avoid bar soaps as they

tend to dry out the skin. Consider a creamy cleanser for dry skin or a clear

cleanser for oily skin.  For normal to oily skin wash with a gentle cleanser. After

you have found a cleanser that works well with your skin type stick to it as much

as possible. If you have dry or sensitive skin, use only warm water to wash your

skin and use a mild natural cleanser every few days. Brushing your teeth before

washing your face is a good practice because toothpaste residue can irritate

sensitive facial skin. Be careful though, not to cleanse too often and remember

to wash at night before going to bed. Most women prefer the water method:

Use warm water to loosen dirt and clogged pores. Use a dime-sized bit of

cleanser, and then rinse with cool or lukewarm water. You'll also want to take

off your makeup with a proper makeup remover.
In the morning, a splash of lukewarm water is all you need (we find it's great for removing excess oils from your nightly moisturizing). Never wash your face with hot or cold water (both can cause broken capillaries). Also be careful about over cleansing skin, see signs you are over cleansing your skin.

 

​​​​​

Exfoliate- This is a great part of any good skin care routine because the results are immediate when done properly. Most people skip this step in their weekly skincare routine. Scrubs work by removing the top layer of dead skin cells that tend to dull your complexion. Make sure you use a gentle scrub with tiny grains. Big grains in cheap scrubs can tear skin and cause more harm than good. Where the skin is not exfoliated on a daily or weekly basis, dead skin cells build up causing your skin to look dull and older. Some experts recommend exfoliating in the morning, since the skin repairs itself at night, when the dead skin cells can be scrubbed away.

 For best results scrub once or twice a week, rubbing in a circular motion for 30 sec. then rinse with lukewarm water. Proper exfoliation means that your foundation will smooth out more cleanly and your moisturizer will soak in more completely.

 

Moisturize- Unless you have very oily skin it is important that you moisturize every day to keep your skin hydrated and healthy. Your skin needs moisturizer all year long as both the indoor winter heat, and summer sun can be equally damaging to your skin.​


Protect- Use a natural sunscreen when possible, regardless of whether or not you plan on spending much time in the sun. Our skin needs sunlight every day but over exposure can have adverse effects. Experts recommend a natural sunscreen or a moisturizer that contains sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15, every day. The sun’s most beneficial rays occur at sunrise and sunset. The skincare experts agree that sunscreen is the most important part of any skincare regimen. 

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