Monday, July 29, 2013

Managing Stress: Breathe and Start Living

Stress wreaks havoc on our mental, emotional, and physical health. Stress narrows our capability to think clearly, enjoy life, and function effectively. It hampers us in our journey toward our goals.

Time flies so fast!

We are now in the second half of the year. I bet many of us need to reboot or refresh…

In the busy and fast-paced world we are living, stress, burn out, tension, strain are just some of the popular words we hear [and experience] almost everyday, may we be at work, in school, or even at home.

If we are living with high levels of stress, our entire well-being is being put at risk.

Stress wreaks havoc on our mental, emotional, and physical health. Stress narrows our capability to think clearly, enjoy life, and function effectively. It hampers us in our journey toward our goals.

Difficulty is part of life, and this difficulty is the one that makes us feel stressed out. We cannot just shut “difficulty” down or be blind about its presence. The good news is, we can manage it!

Take charge of your stress! Do your best to prevent, reduce, and cope with stress.

The key to enjoy your life in the midst of hustle and bustle? EQUILIBRIUM. A balanced life.

Below are some of the easy-breezy strategies that can help you combat daily stress.

I. Avoid Unnecessary Stress
Managing stress is all about taking charge—of your thoughts, emotions, environment, and your manner of dealing with everyday difficulties.

a. Learn how to say “No”
Identify your limits and work around them. Accepting too much responsibility eats up most of your time and energy. Don’t spread yourself thinly; otherwise, your assets (skills, talents, and good attitude) will become your liabilities because your deliverables would become of less quality, or eventually you feel tired and abused, or your health could suffer.

b. Avoid people who stress you out
Limit the amount of time you spend with your emotional vampires, or those who consistently cause or bring you worry, anxiety, irritation, or complications. If you still cannot prevent them, handle them lightly and don’t allow them get into your nerves by just letting them be and just deal with them diplomatically (like if at work), and do your best to stay focused at what you need to accomplish at that very moment.

c. Take control of your environment
Think ahead. Figure out ways on how to deal with the situations that may arise when scenario A, B, C, or D happens. Don’t push yourself against the stress wall and be stuck, instead, find ways on how to climb it and get to the enjoyable side of life. “Preparation” reduces, if not totally eliminates, stress in every situation.

d. Avoid hot-button topics
If you get easily upset over a certain topic and you often find yourself arguing with people over it, just stop bringing that issue up or simply excuse yourself from the conversation to prevent conflicts that might burn you out.

e. Trim down your to-do list
Know your priorities and schedule your daily tasks accordingly. Distinguish between the “should” and the “musts”; and the “urgent” and the “important. Eliminate the unnecessary tasks. Don’t manage time for it will always be 24 hours a day; instead, manage your tasks efficiently and effectively.

II. Alter the Situation
If you cannot avoid a stressful situation, alter it! Figure out what changes you can do to reduce or prevent stress.

a. Express your feelings
If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your feelings honestly but courteously. Repressing your feelings tends to build up stress and might just complicate the situation. Conversely, opening up reduces your stress.

b. Be willing to compromise
If you want someone to change his attitude or behavior, be willing to meet half-way and change or adjust yours too. That person may also be experiencing something about you that he doesn’t like or agree with. Whether he is the only problem or not, doing your part will help you improve your social skills when learn the art of coping with people having a personality different from yours.

c. Be determined
Delay gratification. If you have something to do, stick to it. Be prepared and focused. If interruptions or distractions come your way, stand your ground by tactfully informing others what you need to finish or by abiding by first-things-first principle.

d. Take quick breaks
Don’t soak yourself in your work. It will not make you the Best Employee in town. Take quick breaks to stretch so blood will circulate well in your body or take a quick snack so your mind can refresh and be able to digest ideas or to release creative juices. During a “toxic” season, avoid overwhelming yourself. Break deliverables into manageable tasks, and do them systematically rather than one-time big time. Committing yourself to tasks that you cannot handle within the day will just affect the quality of your work and your mood.

III. Accept the Stressor and Adapt
Accept the things you cannot change and control. If you cannot control external factors, it’s okay! You can always manage the internal factor—you can choose to do better, feel better, and think better. You can better adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and your attitude.

a. Don’t force yourself to control the uncontrollable
Forcing yourself to control the uncontrollable (like the weather, the traffic, the mood of your boss, etc) will only create your burn out, and even fan the fire. Focus on the things that you can control and change.

b. Look at the bright side and from the upside
When faced with a problem, don’t focus on its inherent difficulty. Look at it as a good break to shine. Trials are opportunities in work clothes. Once you solve or overcome the problem, it will not only take you closer to your goal but will also reward you with good self-confidence and self-image.

c. Adjust your standard and attitude
Perfectionism is a major source of stress. Don’t be cruel to yourself and to others by expecting perfect results or the best quality of work all the time. Set reasonable and attainable standard for yourself and for others.

IV. Back to Basic
Refresh your outlook and reboot your system by going back to the heart of it all—yourself!

a. Nurture yourself
Dedicate one day a week for a really good rest day. Sleep like a baby. Relax! Do the things you enjoy and love. Have a good time with friends or simply have a “Me-time”. The important thing is you afford yourself a window time to recharge and appreciate your life.

b. Laugh
Keep a good sense of humor. Read funny articles, watch funny movies, or crack jokes with your friends. Loosen up and learn to laugh, even at yourself!

c. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Exercise regularly to allow your blood to circulate well and to stimulate your brain. Have a healthy diet so you feel  healthy and feel good about yourself. Get a good sleep.

Remember, life is a gift to be enjoyed and shared with your loved ones.

Take care of yourself and live a balanced life!