Develop self-awareness and learn to effectively identify your stress. If you’re flying through life, barely stopping to breathe, you might not even be aware of the stress you’re experiencing. If you’re unaware of it, you’ll be unable to manage it or share your concerns with your partner.
Share your concerns with your partner. Our partners are a great gift to us. They can offer support, appreciation, affirmation and encouragement. How do they know when we need these things? We tell them.
Be open to new ways of coping. Does the idea of talking to a therapist leave you cold? How about Cognitive Therapy? Hypnosis? Massage Therapy? CranioSacral Therapy? Mindfulness Meditation? Relaxation Therapy? Biofeedback Therapy? If you’ve tried something and it didn’t work, try something else. And support your partner if he decides to try something different than you.
Play more. Having fun is a crucial part of balance. Laugh, sing, dance. Go to the playground. Be silly. All these activities can lighten your mood and help bring a little sunshine into the stressful gloom.
Stock your stress-management tool kit. You’ll likely need more than one strategy, or tool, for different circumstances. Determine techniques that can help you handle stress in a traffic jam, at an airport, when your kids are fighting, when it’s rush hour at the grocery store, when you have a tight deadline. Having multiple tools will increase the likelihood that you’ll be able to select the right one for the right situation.
Think creatively. Stress management is more than mere relaxation. It can include volunteering for a good cause, gardening, cooking, playing with a pet, connecting with friends. Different things work for different individuals. Identify what works for you, then incorporate it into your daily life.
Keep a written record. Journaling can provide a powerful outlet for stress. Instead of venting on those around you or swallowing your stress, write it down. Write down the good, the bad and the ugly. But also write down the victories in managing your stress. You’ll be able to look back and see patterns about what works and what doesn’t work.
Avoid stimulants, depressants and non-healthy forms of coping. We know that a good night’s sleep, regular exercise and healthy eating help us cope. We also know that drugs, alcohol, sugar and caffeine, when overused, can have a negative impact and move us in the wrong direction, physically and mentally.
Understand that not all stress is bad. Stress is a normal part of everyday living. Without stress, we might never get out of bed in the morning. Healthy stress is identified as any stress that increases the body’s ability to remain alert and ready to perform well under pressure: meeting a deadline, taking an exam, avoiding an accident, reacting quickly in a dangerous situation. The goal is not to avoid stress at all costs. It is to manage the unhealthy stress in our lives: worry, fear, and restlessness that is chronic in nature.
Keep it up. It’s not about doing something once-in-a-while. It’s about making positive changes and choices in your life to manage and maintain healthy levels of stress on an ongoing basis. When you’re able to incorporate some stress relieving techniques into your everyday life, without even knowing it, you’ll actually begin to prevent unhealthy stress and reduce its severity when it occurs.