Keys to Coping: A Blueprint for Stress Management
You sit with your hands clutched to the steering wheel, your stress level rising by the minute. You have exactly ten minutes before you have to get to the day care center, and there’s an accident blocking traffic. After you pick up Jolene, you’ll have to go to the supermarket, the dry cleaner, and the library. Then it’s time to rush home for dinner, bathe Jolene, put her to bed, then collapse onto your bed.
You may find that your days are highly stressful—and your nights might be as well. The good news is that there are techniques you can use in order to bring your stress level under control. One of these is rehearsing your behavior. Say, for instance, you are preparing for a job interview. You can role play, with your spouse playing the part of the interviewer and you portraying the interviewee. In this way, you can practice your answers to likely questions. Knowing what to expect in advance can help you to control your stress level.
Another effective technique is to reframe debate. For instance, suppose you have had a disagreement with your co-worker. You’re worried that you will never be able to enjoy camaraderie with your co-worker again. As a result, your stress level has hit the roof. You’ll be much better off if you see the disagreement as a challenge you must simply work your way through. Look at the debate as a discussion between two intelligent people. Try your best to see the other person’s perspective. In this way, you’ll be engaging in problem-solving rather than complaining, and your stress may be reduced because of it.
Yet another stress management technique you can use is learning to control your anger. It is often not a particular situation, but your reaction to it, that causes your stress level to climb. When you find yourself becoming angry, redirect your energy. Think of something relaxing, such as a forest or a seashore. Let the waves or the trees carry your anger away. The old adage, “Don’t go to bed angry,” is a motto you should live by. The less anger you experience, the less stressed out you will feel.
You might also try to stop your negative thinking. Whenever a negative thought comes to mind, say “Stop!” to yourself. Or imagine putting a stop sign in front of your negative thought. The idea here is to put an end to negative thinking—to, in effect, put it on the shelf so that you don’t have to worry about it. You’ll be surprised how relaxed you feel, once you stop engaging in negative thinking.
Another stress reliever is to find ways to boost your self-esteem. Being hard on yourself can produce a great deal of stress. Once you recognize that you are a person worthy of love, you will be better able to cope with the stressors that come your way. Exercise is one route you can take in order to feel better about yourself. It’s a proven fact that individuals who exercise have better outlooks on life.
You may also want to set goals for yourself. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to knit. Now is your golden opportunity. Or maybe you’d like to run a marathon by the end of the year. The important thing is to set realistic goals and to commit to them. Once you reach your goal, you will likely feel on top of the world. As you make progress toward your goal, you could find your stress level subsiding.
Stress relief is an on-going process. You can’t expect to reduce your stress-level permanently in one day. But, by taking the steps listed above, you might find yourself better able to deal with stress on a daily basis. Remember that you may not be in complete control of what happens to you on any given day, but you can control your reaction to it. By focusing on the positive, putting an end to negative thinking, and setting goals for yourself, you should find your stress level declining. With less stress to worry about, you’ll find that life is more enjoyable. Even that daily commute to the day care center might become more tolerable.