Effective Stress Management Strategies
Occasional bouts of worry and anxiety are normal reactions to stress. This can give us
the needed extra energy and motivation to do what needs to be done to cope with
a particular problem. It is being in a constant state of worry and anxiety that can be
damaging to our mental and physical health. This is what predisposes people to
develop an anxiety disorder as well as depression, or any number of other mental health conditions.
– Separate what you have control of and what you do not have control of in your life.
Then take some steps to cope with the areas in your life that you can affect. Then
let go of those things you cannot change by diverting your attention from them. Also,
do not spend a lot of time listening to the news which will keep reminding you of all
the difficult problems going on. Constant reminders keep your anxiety level elevated.
In AA there is a saying you are probably familiar with:
“God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the
– Limit multitasking. We all do it but it is best to focus on one thing at a time, and focus
on it completely. Research on the brain has shown it is better for the functioning of the
brain, as well as our stress levels, to accomplish our goals in this manner.
– Breathe. Our breath is the only part of our autonomic nervous system that we can
have any control of. Taking deep breaths for a few minutes supplies oxygen to the
brain so we can think more clearly. Throughout the day focus on taking a few deep
breaths. Better yet, take 10 minutes to breath, stretch, meditate, or do whatever
is calming for you. While you are doing this be aware of your self-talk.
– Limit your exposure to people you find draining due to their negativity, anger, or
generally difficult personality. If this is difficult because they are family or co-workers
then it becomes important to learn to stay calm around them by centering yourself,
breathing deeply, and staying conscious of what you are saying to yourself about
them that makes it more difficult for you.
By now you have undoubtedly read and heard much about stress management. I believe
it is even more important at this time because our country is going through a very difficult
transition and the fear and anxiety are all around us everywhere. The more we all take care
of ourselves and each other the better off we will be. We are the country.
You probably all are familiar with J.K. Rowling and her very popular Harry Potter books.
She gave a commencement speech at Harvard not too long ago which I think you will
appreciate hearing. Go to http://harvardmagazine.com/go/jkrowling.html.
Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. was a neuroanatomist (brain researcher) when she realized she was
having a stroke. During the stroke she realized that the rational (left brain) part of her brain
was shutting down, and her right brain was functioning. She was having powerful feelings of
inner peace and bliss. After years of working towards full recovery she writes of her experience
in this fascinating book, My Stroke of Insight. You may also hear her speak at
Napoleon Hill: “Don’t be afraid of a little opposition. Remember the ‘kite’ of success generally
rises AGAINST the wind of adversity, not with it.”