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Top 10 Stress Management Tips

Sue’s Top Ten: Fave Suggestions for Stress Management

 Mindfulness/ MeditationMindfulness, more or less, is staying with the present moment as much as possible. Much of our stress and anxiety comes from either anticipating things that may or may not happen in the future (be it near or distant future), or things that happened in the past. A lot of relief can be found by sticking with what is in the here and now. We also can miss out on a lot of fun or enjoyment if we’re always anticipating the next thing rather than staying with what is. I have a great book recommendation if you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/miracle-of-mindfulness-thich-nhat-hanh/1101968286

Exercise/ Yoga – Getting some form of cardiovascular exercise on a regular basis does wonders for reducing stress levels at the time of the exercise, as well as preventatively in the longer-term. Exercise is known to raise endorphin levels (“happy chemicals”), therefore having mood enhancing effects. Moreover, while it takes some time and energy to exercise, it is said to boost energy and improve quality of sleep. Yoga can be a great exercise to try for stress reduction and reconnecting with the present moment. There are lots of free yoga class downloads online, including these from a popular local yoga studio: https://www.zudayogafolsom.com/yoga-podcasts/

 One thing at a time, all the time – When you’re overwhelmed, everything seems overwhelming. When people are stressed, they’re more likely to make mistakes and overlook things they wouldn’t otherwise if they were in a space where they were more focused – this means avoid multitasking when you’re stressed. Also, seeing one thing at a time can help us to prioritize and avoid unnecessary steps or tasks that aren’t as important at the time.

 Look for your energy drains and patch those up – Are there people in your life that drain your energy most of all or are your most stressful relationships? Are there things you can let go of with these people – ie, move on, forgive, agree to disagree? Or Are there people who drain you that are no longer healthy relationships for you to maintain? I’d like to advocate for what I call a ‘friend cleanse’ wherein you can par down your non-reciprocal relationships in which only codependency thrives.  

 Delegate/ Ask for support – If you can recognize ongoing stress in particular areas, it may be an opportunity to ask for support or delegate at home or work, etc. Are your at home responsibilities able to be better divided up between the household members? Are there things at work you’re doing that are outside of your job description or that you do just because it’s “easier” than teaching someone else to?

 Look at your sleep – If you have the hours set aside for sleep, it ought to be the highest quality of rest possible for you. Room temperature, pets in the bed, medications, alcohol use, caffeine use, noise in the household, and so forth can all affect your quality of sleep. Other than that… Are your troubles keeping you up at night? Giving you nightmares? Might you need to talk to somebody about that so you can find some solutions?

Get some sunlight (in the Fall and Winter especially) – The Sacramento rainy Winters and less daylight hours with exposure to sunlight can really effect mood, stress, and productivity. Consider taking a walk at lunch weekdays to maximize your direct sunlight exposure… or take a couple breaks during the day to get out and get some sun.

 Cut back on your technology zappers – internet, social media, texting, compulsively checking your email on your smartphone… yes, all good and fun – maybe – but these activities can quickly add up to a lot of minutes throughout the course of a day that could have otherwise been used on one of your higher priority items, something that would reduce your stress level, or quality time with loved ones that will better help you to recharge than technology will.

 Take time for fun – relaxation is most important when you don’t have time for it. Life can be stressful and weeks can be long, but the years go by quickly and it’s important to make time for the people and activities that are priorities in your life.

 Affirmations to self – the more stressed we are, the more likely the negative self-talk that is happening. Positive affirmations can be stress reducing, help us keep the right focus, and help re-program the negative self-talk. Some examples of positive affirmations that may help in times of stress or anxiety are: I invite peace and harmony to dwell in me and surround me at all times, I am relaxed and peaceful because I trust the process of life, All is well in my world, Every breath I inhale calms me and every breath I exhale takes away tension, I am confident about solving life’s problems successfully, and I am stable during life’s ups and downs. Here are some links for more affirmations: http://stress.about.com/u/ua/readerresponses/affirmations.htm and http://www.freeaffirmations.org/

Need some extra support?

Are you, or is someone in your life, struggling with some pretty chronic stress, anxiety, or other related concerns? Might it be time for you to consider counseling? If you would like to schedule an appointment and/or are interested in talking with me more about how talk therapy or EMDR might help you, I invite you to email sue@hopeintherapy.com or call me at (916) 764-8360.

Sue Goetz, LCSW

Counselor and EMDR Trained Therapist for Adolescents and Adults