Get up early in the morning, rush to work or school, scramble to meet deadlines, deal with conflict with loved ones, do housework, then collapse on the couch in exhaustion...and wake up the next day to start the same cycle all over again. Whether or not this describes your life, you can surely identify with the rat-race pace most of us are living. Some days are better than others, but occasionally most of us feel like we're barely hanging on by a thread. This stress and rush, rush, rush mentality is wreaking havoc on both our physical and our mental health. But we feel as though we're stuck, that this is just the way modern life is and we can't avoid it. The good news is that we CAN find ways to cut down on, recognize and cope with stress.
The first step is identifying what exactly is causing the most stress in our lives. Is it work or school pressures? Maybe relationship issues or just plain old lack of time? Get out a piece of paper and write down the things that create feelings of anxiety, exhaustion or frustration. Now brainstorm steps for lessening their impact on your well-being. If, for example, you have a strained relationship with a co-worker, consider ways you could handle it better (or, if possible, eliminate the problem). Maybe, for example, you could talk to them and try to put your differences aside, or work on changing your own attitude so you don't let it get to you. Or if you're stressed about household chores, consider whether they are really worth the negative feelings they are causing you. Would ignoring the dust for a couple days really kill anyone?
After you've thought of all the stressors you can work on/lessen (which should, by the way, be ALL of them), the next step is to make a list of general coping strategies; essentially your own personal directory for ways to relax and alleviate stress build-up. Here are some examples (but, very important; you must choose things that you enjoy, not what works for other people):
Each day, take a 15-minute walk alone just to clear your head.
Take a relaxing bath before going to bed.
Buy an electric massager (yes, you can use it on yourself!).
Learn some stretching exercises.
Listen to a soothing CD.
Do an activity that energizes you - write a poem, pump weights, whatever works for you.
Now that you have you ideas for "stress busters", make a commitment to practice at least one of them a day. And make sure that when you're doing it, you are not busy thinking about the dirty bathroom or that report for work - this is your time to unwind and rejuvenate. Incorporate both the stress-reduction strategies you've come up with for specific problem areas and these everyday little "treats" and you should see the long-term benefits.
by T.L. Scribe