1) Following a balanced and nutritious diet.
A poor diet can lead you to feel mentally and physically drained. However, when we are eating well and experiencing adequate nutrition, we will be more alert, energetic and our bodies will be better able to deal with stressors. Caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco can exacerbate stress responses, so although we may be tempted to turn to these habits to deal with stress, they may actually increase our stress levels.
2) Regular exercise.
Exercise releases endorphins that allow us to feel happy. Negative feelings often accompany stress--feelings like anxiety, fear and sadness. Exercise can help us eliminate these feelings and give us the energy to tackle our daily tasks.
3) Be organized, prioritize your work and accept that you cannot do everything.
4) Be prepared for stressful events.
If you know that a stressful event is looming; practice and prepare. If you have to give a speech, but are terrified of public speaking, write your speech well in advance and practice. Practice in the mirror, then practice with family, friends and people who do not spur your anxiety. Change your self-talk so that you tell yourself that you are a good speaker and will be able to do this. Prepare in advance for stressful events, this will help you deal with the situation better.
For example, one of the things people find stressful is negotiating for additional money or salary increase. By practicing what you are going to say and reviewing counter-arguments for potential objections in advance, you can convert a stressful event into a standard day-to-day operation.
5) Maintain a positive attitude and view things that happen as opportunities rather than disasters.
6) When you face a difficult situation for which you have no control over, learn to accept rather than worry and stress about it.
7) In a workplace environment, learn to say "No" or negotiate for additional time when you are given unreasonable requests.
8) Insist on getting other family members to help with your regular chores at home.
9) Find a balance between your work and personal life.
Engage in activities that will relax you and make you forget your worries like playing games, watching movies, engaging in a hobby, taking a walk, reading or even taking a relaxing bath.
10) Maintain good social support
Stress is worsened when we have no outlet. Make time to socialize and stay in touch with friends and family. If you are feeling overwhelmed, talk to a close relative or friend who you can trust. Sometimes simply talking about your feelings can give you renewed strength to tackle goals.
11) Practice deep breathing, relaxation and meditation.
12) Use humor and laughter to melt away stress both in the workplace and home.
Stress Managing Styles
The first step in managing your stress is to know what types of stressors affect you and decide which style of stress management best suits you.
We all react to stress differently and therefore, must find the best way to manage our stressors. Since there may be several ways of managing a given situation, we need to find a style that best helps us deal with a particular stressor.
There are three styles which can be used individually, or in combination with one another. They are as follows:
· Task Oriented – Here the situation is analyzed and immediately dealt with thus reducing the level of stress it causes. Here are some examples:
Sharon had an important report due a week after returning from holiday. She obsessed over it knowing that it would be a difficult task to complete. However, she did not want to spend her vacation worrying about it, nor did she want to do any work on it while she was away from the office. She analyzed the situation and decided the best way to deal with it was to somehow get it out of the way before she left and then all she had to do was to tweak it on her return. She looked at the workload and prioritized it. She determined she could spend at least two hours a day working on the report. The items with the least priority would be pushed back for when she returned. By dealing with the problem directly, she was able to reduce the stress before, during and after her holiday.
In another example, students are often overwhelmed by the amount of material they have to cover when studying for a final examination, even when they have been studying regularly during the semester and generally having several weeks to prepare prior to taking the exam. This is caused by their perception that they cannot cover all of the material. This is an emotion-oriented behavior. Some of the successful students adopt the following strategy to deal with this situation. Rather than studying in isolation, they study in a group, with each student studying a different section or subject and preparing mock examination questions. Then the group gets together and discusses each subject and goes over the mock questions with the student who is an expert in that area. By using this strategy, the emotion and stress each student feels is reduced when the perceived amount of material each one has to handle is reduced.
· Emotion Oriented – The strategy adopted here involves efforts to alter the emotional response to the stressor. It can also involve looking at the problem from a different angle which does not produce an emotional response and therefore, reduces stress.
· Avoidance Oriented - Here techniques are used to distract, avoid or deny the existence of a problem. It can also involve engaging in some unrelated activity to take your mind off a situation and avoid stress.
You can employ avoidance oriented techniques to relieve stress by indulging in other activities like participating in a sport, playing video games or watching television. These are good techniques for temporary stress relief, but it should not be used to delay or put-off important activities like studying for an exam, seeking debt counseling or other major events in your life which will increase your stress levels if they are neglected and later catch up with you.
Use a style or a combination of styles you are comfortable with to cope with some of the stressors in your life.
This article gave you an overview of some of the things you could do to prevent stress. The three styles discussed can be used by themselves or in combination to manage stress.