Everyone encounters stress during their lives at one point—never-ending bills, demanding schedules, work, and family responsibilities—and that can make stress seem inescapable and uncontrollable. Stress management skills are designed to help a person take control of their lifestyle, thoughts, and emotions and teach them healthy ways to cope with their problems.
Find the Cause
The first step in stress management is identifying your stressors. While this sounds fairly easy—it’s not hard to point to major changes or a lot of work piling up—chronic stress can be complicated, and most people don’t realize how their habits contribute to their stress. Maybe work piling up isn’t from the actual demands of your job, but more so from not knowing how to have healthy boundaries between your work life and home life. You have to claim responsibility for the role you play in creating your stress or you won’t be able to control it.
Strategies for Stress Management
Once you’ve found what causes your stress, focus on what you can control. Self care is not SELFISH! It is one of the single most important things we can start doing immediately in order to begin improving our mental health. Eliminate the realistic stressors and develop consistent de-stressing habits. Instead of watching TV or responding to texts in bed after work - take a walk, or read a book. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough quality sleep, will ease feelings of stress and help you relax. One of my favorite things to work on with my clients in therapy is the exploration and improvement of self-care methods. It was a long up hill battle for myself as a mother and career woman to implement self-care practices, but it was a complete life saver for me once I made the effort, and carved out the time I thought I never had.
Also, make a conscious effort to set aside time for yourself for fun and relaxation. Alone time can be whatever you need it to be. Some people like doing activities such as tai chi, yoga, or meditation, but you can also treat yourself to something simple, like taking a bubble bath, listening to music, or watching a funny movie. Or my personal favorite, spending time out exploring nature! Nature is one of the easiest places we can teach ourselves how to practice mindfulness.
Finally, don’t feel like you have to solve your stress on your own. Reach out to your family and friends. Whether you need help with a problem or just need someone to listen, find a person who will be there to positively reinforce and support you. If stress becomes chronic, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a therapist. For those who do not feel like they have any friends or family members they can turn to; support groups can offer opportunities to connect with others.