20 Tips to Manage Stress

Two views of local Extension leaders drilling ...
Image by Cornell University Library via Flickr

Long weekends are great, but many of us return to work feeling overwhelmed.  Here are some tips to help manage the stress.

1. UNDERSTAND STRESS. Recognize what situations set you off and have a plan to help ease those stress­ful situations.

2. LET IT GO. Concentrate on the things you can change. Let go of the things that are beyond your control.

3. SHARE YOUR FEELINGS. Talk to your friends and family. Sometimes a simple conversation about how you feel can help relieve stress.

4. GET ORGANIZED. Don’t procrastinate. Focus on one task at a time. Once it is finished, then go to another task. This helps eliminate the feeling of being over­whelmed and can motivate you to keep going.

5. LEARN TO SAY “NO.” Saying “no” to extra projects, social activities and invitations can be difficult and takes practice, but is important to allow “alone” time for yourself and your family. Remember, it’s OK to say “no.”

6. PICK YOUR BATTLES. If you know you are right, stand your ground in a calm and rational manner. Be flexible, take other people’s opinions into account, and don’t be afraid to compromise. Arguing only intensifies stressful situations.

7. EXAMINE EACH SITUATION. Look at each situation differently. Don’t automatically slip into old re­sponses that are not effective for you.

8. CHANGE NEGATIVE BEHAVIOR. Approach tasks in a positive manner. Target situations and people that support positive behavior patterns.

9. BE PATIENT. Expect to wait. Take a book, magazine or newspaper in case you are stuck waiting in line for an extended period of time.

10. LAUGH. Laughter is the best medicine. Take time to find the humor in stressful situations.

11. GET ENOUGH SLEEP. Getting plenty of sleep can as­sist in making day-to-day stresses easier to deal with.

12. EXERCISE. Let out that built-up stress by exercising at least 20-30 minutes three times a week. This ben­efits both your mind and body.

13. BREATHE. Learn and practice relaxation techniques. When you feel yourself getting stressed, stop and take several slow deep breaths before you begin to deal with the situation.

14. EAT WELL-BALANCED MEALS. Good nutrition is crucial. Make sure to eat a variety of healthy foods from the food guide pyramid and limit intake of caf­feine and alcohol.

15. CREATE QUIET TIME. Take a few moments every day to listen to music, relax, pray or meditate to help clear your mind.

16. CHECK YOUR BODY LANGUAGE. If your body feels tense and rigid, take a few deep breaths, relax your shoulders and neck and stand tall. Don’t forget to SMILE.

17. ACCEPT COMPLIMENTS. Learn to accept praise from yourself and others. Recognize when you have reached a goal, completed a difficult task or stayed calm in a stressful situation.

18. TREAT YOURSELF. Take time to do something you enjoy. Whether it is reading, gardening, or getting a massage, set aside time to indulge yourself.

19. ALLOW YOURSELF TO MAKE MISTAKES. You are not superman/superwoman, so don’t expect perfection from yourself or others. Accept that you live in an imperfect world and forgive yourself and others for mistakes or imperfections.

20. CALL FOR HELP. When it all gets too much ask for help.  From a co-worker, from friends, from family, or maybe a professional resource to help you cope.  No one does it all on their own so why should you?

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