Stress management starts by identifying the sources of stress in your life. This is sometimes harder than it seems, as it is very easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses. Do you blame your stress on your personality, your environment, or on other people? Instead of blaming things or people in your life, you need to accept responsibility for the role you play in creating your own stress, so that you can take control.
Visit UNF's Stress Management online book display for library resources (eBooks, DVDs, streaming videos, and links). The online book display was curated by the Thomas G. Carpenter Library and is a free resource for UNF students, faculty and staff.
Start a Stress Journal
A Stress journal will help identify the stressors in your life, as well as helps you find adequate ways of dealing with them. Keep track of every time you feel stressed.
- What caused your stress (make a guess if you're unsure)?
- How you felt, both physically and emotionally.
- How you acted in response.
- What you did to cope or feel better.
Writing these down will make it clear what exactly stresses you out the most. You will start to see patterns and common themes. Your journal will show you that you might not have as much to worry about as you thought. It will help you establish plan for moving forward.
Evaluate your Coping Strategies
Think about ways you may cope with stress. Your stress journal will be an effective tool in helping you identify them. Many people cope with stress in ways that may actually add to the problem.
Do you think your strategies for dealing with stress are healthy or unhealthy? Helpful or unproductive? Finding effective ways for dealing with stress will help you in the long run.
Your Key to Stress Management
Strategy #1: Avoiding needless stress
It's not healthy to avoid situations that need to be addressed, but we can eliminate a number of unnecessary stressors in our life.
Learn how to say "no"
Taking on more than you can handle often leads to stress. You should refuse added responsibilities when you know it may cause you to experience stress.
Avoid people who stress you out
Limit the amount of time that you spend with people who may have a negative attitude or tend to stress you out. If this limited amount of time still causes unnecessary stress, ending the relationship may be the best choice.
Take control of your environment
Try to avoid environments that make you anxious such as watching the evening news or sitting in traffic. Replace these activities with others
Avoid hot-button topics
If you get upset from talking about certain topics or repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop talking about it or excuse yourself from the conversation when the topic arises.
Analyze your to-do list
Review your schedule and distinguish the "shoulds" from the "musts". Prioritize the things that need to be done first, and see if there are any activities you can eliminate completely.
Strategy #2: Changing stressful situations
If avoiding the stressful situation is not possible, altering may be the best option. Changing things so the problem doesn't occur in the future may involve modifying many of the ways you operate in your everyday life.
Express your feelings instead of bottling them up.
Don't let resentment build up when you are experiencing anger. Communicate your concerns in a respectful way or the situation will not change.
Be willing to compromise.
Changing behavior is not a one-way street. Others may expect you to change your behavior as well if you ask them to do so. If you are willing to change, you will have a better chance of finding middle ground.
Be more assertive.
Deal with your problems head on by trying to prevent them. Don't let others take advantage of your time when you have more important things to do.
Manage your time better.
Poor time management causes a lot stress. Plan ahead so that you can avoid the consequences of stress.
Strategy #3: Learning to accept that things don't always change
Some stressors are not preventable such as the death of a love one, a serious illness, or a national recession. The best way to deal with these stressors is to accept things as they are.
Don't try to control the uncontrollable.
Rather than stressing out over things that are beyond your control, focus on things that you can control, such as the way you choose to react to problems.
Look for the upside.
Try to look for personal growth opportunities in situations that may not appear to be good. Learn from your mistakes and live by the saying, "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger."
Share your feelings.
Expressing what you are feeling can be very therapeutic, even if there is nothing you can do to change the stressful situation you are facing.
Learn to forgive.
Everyone makes mistakes, so let go of anger and resentment. This will free you of negative energy, leaving more room for positive!
Strategy #4: Adapting to stressors
By changing your expectations and attitude, you will regain a sense of control while facing stressful situations.
Try to view things from a positive perspective. Take time to enjoy things you like to do or enjoy alone time.
Look at the big picture.
Ask yourself how important this stressful situation really is. If it is not very important, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
Adjust your standards.
Set reasonable standards and goals for yourself. Being a perfectionist sets you up for failure. Learn that it is okay to not always have everything be perfect.
Focus on the positive.
Take a few minutes every day to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life. This will help you to keep things in perspective.