By Cathy Holloway Hill
When asked the question, “how do you spell relief”, what first comes to mind? Uncontrolled stress in our lives can be deadly. The best way to manage your daily stress is to first identify it. Most of us think that stress is normal and common, and it is something we must live with. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When we learn how to control the stress in our lives, instead of allowing the stress to control us, not only are we healthier physically, but we can get more done and achieve our goals.
Life is approximately ten percent “what happens to us” and ninety percent “our reaction to it.” How we react and respond to stress determines how effectively we live our lives. It determines whether we succeed or fail at whatever we set out to accomplish. An overload of stress can wreck havoc on our lives in many ways. It can destroy our physical and mental health and have devastating consequences on our relationships.
Following are 5 tips for helping to reduce (or eliminate) the stress in your life:
- Identify Your Triggers – Try to identify your sources of stress. Keep a journal or diary whenever an event or situation causes a stressful response. This will help you identify patterns or behaviors that precede these stressful situations. Once you’re comfortable with this exercise, make the effort, either with your employer, your spouse, or yourself, to change these patterns to help you better manage your triggers.
- Modify Your Response – We have no control over the situations that life throws at us. However, we do have control over our response to it. Practice changing your response once you become aware of your triggers. Now that you know what causes your stress, you will be better equipped to prepare a different response. Reciting a positive affirmation in your head is a great way to modify your response. The simple “serenity” prayer is great: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
- Practice Daily Meditation – Meditation can be performed anywhere at any time. The goal in meditation is to quiet the mind by focusing your attention on a repeated sound or image, without distraction, in order to enter a deeply relaxed state. Regular meditation can ease your stress by allowing your body to relax and turn your focus away from the stress trigger.
- Learn How to Deep Breath – Deep breathing is easy and effective in reducing stress. Most often, we breathe very shallow and don’t realize it. Deep breathing involves inhaling in through your nose and slowly exhaling our through pursed lips. When you take the deep breath in through your nose, fill your lower lungs with air. Your belly should push out if you do it correctly. Hold for a second and then let the air out slowly through pursed lips. When you feel a stress trigger coming, immediately deep breathe, and you’ll find yourself better able to diffuse your stress.
- Develop a Good Support Network – Having someone to call or talk to is extremely important when you’re dealing with stress. Studies show that women are better able to cope with emotional stress than men due to their stronger support networks. When stress becomes overwhelming, spending time with girlfriends and loved ones, or even caring for your pet, will help a great deal.
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