How to keep this subject to one page? It's stressing me out! Seriously when I think of the work I've done to help people relax and let go of the overwhelming demands of their lives, it is not easy to narrow it down to bullet points on a page. When I work with people individually we explore their personal universe to create a path to increased balance and harmony. For you today, here are some very general ideas about stress management:
LEARN TO RECOGNIZE your personal radar blips that tell you you are overextended emotionally or physically . These can be somatic signs such as increased pain, dry eyes, increased sweating, tightness in the throat or stomach (or anywhere), feeling tired. It could be behavioral changes such as increased irritability, more time worrying, out of control eating, loss of libido, avoiding necessary tasks like opening the mail. It could be cognitive problems like forgetting where you put your keys, forgetting words or people's names, having trouble with mental tasks that usually are not difficult. It could be emotional signs such as increased tearfulness, emotional numbing, or feeling jumpy, anxious and tense.
LEARN AND PRACTICE TECHNIQUES TO SLOW DOWN, be in the moment and let go of tension. Practice these techniques when your radar detects signs that you are stressed. These techniques include calming self talk ("this too shall pass"), relaxation breathing techniques, deliberate muscle relaxation techniques, visualization techniques (mentally go to your favorite trout stream or mountaintop), physical techniques (stretching, mindful walking, moving in some way). These are all things you can do that will slow your racing heart and calm your mind within minutes. Sometimes I'm in bed trying to sleep as thoughts of my concerns and responsibilities race through my head. If I remember to take a few slow deep abdominal breaths and focus on my inner experience, I feel relaxation and calm enter and tension and obsessive thought melt.
Get serious about ORGANIZATION and TIME MANAGEMENT. Simple techniques like a using a dayplanner, making and using "do" lists, consciously prioritizing tasks, scheduling DOWN TIME for play, relaxation and unstructured time. These things really do help people let go of stress.
Find a REGULAR MINDFULNESS PRACTICE that you are curious about and learn more. This could be yoga, mindfulness meditation, Tai Chi, prayer, mindfulness walking, drawing. I've had clients who describe "zen" experiences while gardening, relaxing in a bath or hot tub, drawing, sewing, hiking, singing, riding a horse, swimming and in many other situations. Being truly in the moment and embodied is a healing and strengthening experience that helps us to be more resilient and well.
If you are experiencing WORK STRESS or BURNOUT, you may benefit from the suggestions above and also from assertive communication training which includes information on conflict resolution. You may also be in a situation where you are dealing with people in power who will not respond well to attempts at respectful assertive communication. If this is the case you may need to know more about dealing with workplace bullying. You may also need to explore your other options for employment if the level of stress is likely to continue and is causing you mental or physical harm. I have done training on workplace stress and bullying. I help individual clients learn skills to cope with work stress.
If you're still experiencing an overload of stress after trying these (and other) strategies, you may be experiencing tension and anxiety for which treatment would be appropriate. CONSULT A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL for assessment and help. Call me at 805 542-9024 or go to the contact page to email me and get information about my location.