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6 Surefire Ways to Manage Stress Now

6 Surefire Ways to Manage Stress Now

We can’t avoid stress: it’s always going to be there, no matter how much we wish otherwise. We can, however, try to minimize our stress by using effective stress-management strategies. It’s not always easy to change the way we deal with pressure, but it is doable. Learning how to manage stress takes time and persistence, but it so impacts the quality of our life that it’s well worth the effort.

Effective Ways to Manage Stress

Eliminate stressors

Though you can’t completely get rid of everything in your life that causes tension, you’d be surprised by the amount you can eliminate. Identify the people, things, and situations that cause the most stress in your life, and then sift out the ones you can avoid, minimize, or get rid of completely and figure out what you need to do to make that happen.

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Some suggestions:

  • Avoid the people who cause you stress. Completely remove them from your life if you can, but if you can’t, limit the amount of time you spend with them. Don’t worry about what people think or if they’ll be offended: if they’re causing you stress, they need to go.
  • Say no. We hear recommendations about that all the time, yet we still don’t do it. Don’t accept responsibility for something that’s not yours, and don’t commit yourself when you’re already over-committed. You have no obligation to set aside your integrity to make someone else happy.
  • Steer clear of things that upset you. If the news causes you anxiety, don’t watch it; turn off the TV or change the channel. Don’t argue over hot button issues. If arguing about politics or religion raises your blood pressure, don’t engage: change the subject.
  • Trim your “to-do” list: don’t do things you think you should; only what you must. Cross off tasks that don’t absolutely have to be done.
  • Lighten your schedule. Don’t over-commit your time,, and give yourself extra time in between appointments.

Reframe problems

If you can’t avoid a stressor, change the way you look at it. When you re-frame a problem, you automatically feel some sense of control, and you’ll lower your stress just by changing your attitude. The attitude you take and the expectations you set may actually be what’s causing the stress. There are many things we absolutely cannot change in life, but we do have the ability to change the way we react to them.

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Some suggestions:

  • Try to view problems as learning opportunities.
  • Lower your expectations, and don’t set standards that neither you nor others can possibly meet. Perfectionism is likely the largest stressor we have, so figure out what’s “good enough”, and be satisfied with that.
  • Look at the bigger picture to get perspective: ask yourself if something really is as important as you think it is. If it won’t matter five years from now, just let it go; it’s not worth the stress it’s causing you to worry about it.
  • Learn to relinquish control. If something is beyond your direct influence, it’s a waste of your energy to stress about it. You’ll just endanger your health and lower the quality of your life over something you can’t do anything about anyway.
  • Accept responsibility. If your actions or choices contributed to the stress, you need to take responsibility for that. When we take ownership of our contribution to problems, we automatically lower our tension.

Take action

We can often lower our stress just by taking action in order to do something, anything to impact the way a problem affects us. Sometimes it’s a significant action, and sometimes it’s just a tiny step, but the important thing is that we do something to change the situation.

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Some suggestions:

  • Communicate your feelings. Telling people that something they have said or done has upset you is often enough to make the stress more manageable. Keeping our feelings bottled up only causes problems to snowball into huge mounds of tension that are hard to overcome.
  • Get support. Talk out your stress with someone you trust. Venting to a friend is very cathartic, as not only do we get our stressful feelings off our chest, but often the other person can provide a different perspective  on actions we can take.
  • Stand up for yourself, and be proactive. Prepare ahead of time to deal with situations that you know cause you worry, and address problems as soon as they happen instead of letting them grow. Don’t tolerate criticism, and don’t allow other people to manipulate you—demand respect.
  • Change the way you do things. Look for tools that can save you time and effort, and try to find a better way to handle a situation. If you don’t know how to do it differently, find resources to help you.

Stay healthy

Good health is of vital importance in managing our stress levels, and it may be the aspect that we have the most control over. Improving our physical health allows us to have the energy and stamina to deal with stress more effectively, while improving our mental health puts us in a better frame of mind so stress doesn’t affect us as much.

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Some suggestions:

  • Get regular physical activity: a few sessions of exercise every week—even short periods of activity every day—can make a significant difference in the quality of your health.
  • Use better fuel by choosing higher-quality foods. You don’t have to eliminate all of your favorites to be healthier; just substitute better ones whenever you can.
  • Get more sleep. The majority of Americans are walking around sleep-deprived. It’s difficult enough to manage stress when we’re well rested, but it’s nearly impossible when we’re exhausted.
  • Be proactive. Go to the doctor for health checkups, and don’t just seek medical help when there’s a serious problem. Make sure to visit your healthcare professional regularly so that you can avoid a problem before it starts, or prevent it from blossoming into a full-blown chronic health issue.

Recharge your batteries

Taking the time to give yourself the attention you need is the single most effective way to manage your stress. It may seem frivolous, selfish even to put a fun and relaxation at the top of your list, but taking care of yourselves actually gives you the energy, stamina, and patience to manage stress more effectively. We get so caught up in the craziness of life that we often forget that we are actually the central force that controls our lives. Recharging is not a luxury, it’s mandatory.

Some suggestions:

  • Make time to relax. Schedule time for relaxation on your calendar if you need to, whatever you need to do to make it a real commitment. Take a break from your problems, your obligations, and responsibilities just for a little while. They’ll still be there later, and you’ll be better able to handle them when you’re well-rested and relaxed.
  • Be social. Spending time with friends and family who support and nurture you provides a healthy support network that can act as a shield against the effects of negativity. Being around other people who are positive and upbeat can have a positive effect on your mood. Happiness is contagious—catch it.
  • Laugh. Being able to laugh at difficult situations not only releases endorphins and lowers blood pressure, but it also allows you to view problems with a lighter attitude. The ability to find the humor in life, even if you’re laughing at yourself, is a very effective way to manage stress.
  • Regularly do things that nurture you, instead of drain you. Read a good book, go for a walk, listen to music, play with your pets, take a bath, call a friend, or watch a movie you love.

The bottom line is that while tension can’t be eliminated, it can be managed. If we learn to incorporate some of these stress-management strategies into our lives, we can actually avoid some common stressors and learn to handle the rest in a calmer and healthier way.

More by this author

Royale Scuderi

A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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