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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stress Management Strategies

Stress management is the way we respond and react to the everyday pressures and demands of life. Developing effective stress management skills are crucial. Here are the strategies :

1. Get enough rest and sleep.

Although everyone does not have the same requirements for rest and sleep, the majority of us need at least seven to eight hours per night. Try to develop a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at about the same time everyday. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, stimulating activities, or exercise prior to bed time. You may also want to develop a bedtime routine, like showering, soaking in a warm tub, reading, or listening to soft music prior to falling asleep.

2. Breathing.

Deep breathing, when done properly, will relax the body even as it confronts high levels of stress or panic. It is physically impossible for muscles to remain tense when deep, relaxing breaths are taken. When you feel the tension mounting, stop, close your eyes and take a few long, deep breaths. Breath through your diaphragm and not your chest. Feel the breath coming in through your nostrils and into your belly (your belly will actually rise) and allow the breath to expelthrough your mouth as your belly contracts. This pause only lasts a minute or so, but it can clear your mind and allow you to refocus your energy on the task at hand.

3. Balance work and recreation.

Take time out for yourself and do something you
enjoy. Consider scheduling a break into your busy day. Schedule five or ten minutes when you will stop working and do something you enjoy. Some popular choices: working on a crossword puzzle, walking around the house or building where you work, stepping outside for a breath of fresh air, singing, calling a friend to schedule a lunch date, or staring out the window. Learning to integrate joyful moments into your daily life will go a long way towards alleviating and preventing stress.

4. Seek out support.

Having a network of supportive friends and acquaintances is a vital resource in coping with stress. Sharing and confiding can buffer the stress connected with life's daily hassles. It is important to remember that you are not alone and that others can understand and empathize.

5. Movement.

Moving your body is an excellent way to dissipate stress. A formal exercise plan can be developed and followed, but a less formal approach will work equally well. Taking daily walks can go a long way in reducing stress and increasing your energy level. When you feel too tired to move, get up and dance, walk, or just jump in place. Doing so will increase the flow of blood through the body and to the brain and reinvigorate you for the tasks ahead.

6. Organize and manage time effectively.

Trying to do too much in too little time is a stress trap. Since you cannot make more time, managing the time you have is vital. The three P's of effective time management that can assist you are as follows:
• Prioritize set goals for important things
• Plan schedule and set realistic time lines
• Protect learn to say no to unwanted demands and avoid time wasters

7. Learn to laugh!

Laughter is truly medicine for the soul. Research has shown that laughter helps the body relax, enhances the immune system, and increases problem solving abilities. Think about how good you feel after a hearty bout of laughter: you are breathing more deeply, your face and neck are more relaxed, and you feel happier. Make a special effort to look for humor and the lighter side of things. Learning to laugh at yourself, as well as with others, will go a long way in reducing stress.

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