Stress Management Tips
Did you know that excessive stress has been associated with a number of negative health consequences? Stress can cause or exacerbate cancer, cardiovascular diseases and even Alzheimer’s disease. If you have any chronic disease, it is important to reduce as many external stressors as possible. Even healthy people should learn stress management.
This past spring and early summer I was often observing a low-level feeling of anxiety. I was not sure where it was coming from. My health was good. I was exercising regularly and my personal relationships were also fine. But I knew I wanted to reduce anxiety if I could, so I examined the stressors I had. Cancer survivor Chris Wark suggests that most chronic stress comes from either people, problems or projects.
Stress from Projects
Most of my anxiety was in the “projects” area. I had recently been posting a lot on Instagram. I had been trying a number of different techniques suggested by the “experts” to grow my business social media following. All of this may have been contributing to my anxiety, I suspected and it turns out I was right.
I quit Facebook and Instagram almost totally for the month of July, both personally and for my nutrition work. I did not post articles on my blog or send newsletters for that month. And I noticed a great reduction in my stress levels. At that same time, I stopped a regular weekly volunteer job I had been doing for the past two years. This freed up some time in my schedule. As a result of all of these changes, my anxiety levels have reduced substantially. I have started writing again and sending newsletters, but still have not posted much on social media. I feel great.
Stress from People
What if the source of your chronic stress is coming from one or more of the people in your life? In some cases, you may need to avoid that person entirely or at least reduce your contact with them. But perhaps this person is your spouse or your boss and you can’t change the amount of contact you have with that person. Then you may need to change some of your communication tactics or find other ways to reduce stress. Learning to forgive others can go a long way to healing yourself and often the relationship.
Stress from Problems
Sometimes the major source of chronic stress may be from the problems in your life. Is there a task that you know you must do, but have been avoiding tackling? I have a friend who has to move into a much smaller space but has been avoiding downsizing her possessions. Make a “to do” list for the problems and tasks that you have and start working on them one by one. You will be amazed at how much you can reduce your stress in that way.
Other Stress Management Tips
Maybe your problem is something you can’t control such as a personal chronic health concern or family stress. Then you may need to significantly reduce other areas of stress in your life. Here are some additional stress management strategies suggested by Chris Wark.
- Turn off the news and social media. Eliminate as much negative information as possible, especially when it is about things you have no direct influence over, such as politics or hurricanes. I reduced my news intake, especially from TV and noticed a positive affect on my mood.
- Consume inspirational and uplifting media. Listen to music that makes you happy Research has shown that comedy boosts the immune system. Other studies have shown that listening to music reduces cortisol, the stress-inducing hormone in the body. Click this link to listen to a fun song “Stress”. Phil Stubbs’ music will help you laugh about stress!
- Don’t escape your problems by self-medication. Watching too much TV or other media, over-eating, drinking alcohol to excess, recreational drugs, and over-working can all be means of escaping from stress. These things actually add to your stress load in the long run. If you are over indulging in any of these areas, try a short-term fast as I did with Social Media. Then confront the things in your life that are the real stressors and work on handling them.
- Implement proactive stress management techniques. Often the external stressors in your life cannot be eliminated, at least in the immediate term. Exercise is a great stress reliever, in addition to all of its other benefits. I have found singing to be an incredible joy and stress reliever for me. I am currently performing in the onstage choir for the Hunchback of Notre Dame musical. Singing this glorious music everyday since mid-June has been wonderful. There is research to show that singing reduces cortisol levels and improves for cancer patients. Other research showed that singing reduced cortisol levels for both choir members and audience members.
If you are feeling a large amount of anxiety or stress in your life, first identify the sources of that stress. Consider using the categories of problems, people and projects to help you identify your major stressors. Eliminate what you can and use the stress-reduction suggestions in this article to help you cope better.
Leave a comment with the best stress management strategies that you have found.