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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 November 17, 2019

20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

Saying, “Thank you,” can be difficult to do. Some things just demand a little something extra because of the magnitude of the favor or the depth of appreciation involved. But what can you do to say thank you in a meaningful way? Sometimes you have to get a little more creative than just firing off an email. Here are 20 creative ways to say thank you that your friends and family will remember and cherish!

1. Make a gift bag.

A unique, homemade gift bag with a custom label or a note is a simple but heartfelt way to show your appreciation for the wonderful things your friends or family have done for you.

2. Give a toast.

Many people fear public speaking more than death, giving this particular thank-you a little extra meaning. Composing a sincere, eloquent toast and delivering it is a nice way to show appreciation that truly comes from the heart.

3. Write a poem.

“Roses are red, violets are blue…” Uh, you could write that...but why not put a little extra zing in it? Find out what their favorite kind of poetry is: haiku, free verse, iambic pentameter, and so on. (Google them if you don’t know what they are.) Then write one that expresses why they deserve your thanks…and why you’re glad to give it!

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4. Create your own labels.

There are a number of websites that offer custom gift labels. Find one that fits your personality and that of your friends and create a personalized thank-you label!

5. Give a gift card.

Sometimes choosing what to give a friend can be tough. A gift card is a good way to get around this problem. As always, be sure to include a personalized note or card thanking the recipient for their friendship and help.

6. Send a letter.

Snail-mail is a largely lost art form. Don’t worry about how long the letter is, though. What really matters here is that you took the time to put pen to paper and express your feelings sincerely and honestly!

7. Use social media to send a special message.

If someone’s done something you think the whole world should know about, why not put out a social media blast? Use your blog, your Facebook, your Google+ account, and your Twitter to spread the word about why this person’s someone your friends will want to know too!

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8. Make your own digital greeting card.

While an email isn’t always the best way to go when saying thank you, a digital greeting card that you put time and effort into creating can really brighten someone’s day! Make the card reflect the recipient’s personality and compose a short message of thanks for their generosity.

9. Make a YouTube video.

Sometimes, actually hearing someone say, “Thank you,” can make all the difference. Why not take it a step further and create a special video of thanks for your friends, family, and those special people who helped make your day so important…or who helped you through that rough time?

10. Deliver cookies or candies.

Making something yourself is a fun and delightful way to say thank you to someone. Create a sampling of baked goods or homemade candies and decorate them with a simple message, or make them so they form letters! (Think Valentine’s candies, only situationally appropriate.) Attach a thank-you note or label and surprise those special people with the gift of your time and creativity.

11. Make surprise gifts for guests.

There’s no need to wait until “later” to send a thank-you message. Why not do it at the time? Create little gift packets or bags for your guests with surprises inside. This is a great way to say thanks to the people who attended your event, and make sure they won’t want to miss the next one!

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12. Put together a flower basket.

Whether you prefer fresh or artificial flowers, assembling a flower basket with a thank-you note is an excellent way to brighten someone’s day and show you appreciate them.

13. Take a picture.

Sometimes capturing the moment is the best way to put a smile on someone’s face. Have someone take a picture of you receiving that special gift or opening that surprise package and send the giver a copy with a quick but sincere note to say thanks!

14. Repay their generosity by paying it forward.

The best gifts come from the heart, and the best way to repay a gift is to pay it forward. If your friend has a special cause they care about or something they believe in passionately, why not make a donation in their name or volunteer some of your time to the cause? This will mean more than any number of cookies, candies, or thank-you notes because you’re taking your friend’s love and spreading it around to others.

15. Do something special for them.

Take them out to dinner. (See “make a toast.”) Give them that movie they’ve been wanting forever. Cook them dinner and give them a present when they arrive. Any of these are good options for showing someone you really appreciate them and how grateful you are to have them in your life.

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16. Reciprocate their help.

Everyone needs help sometime. Whether it’s holding their hand through a particularly traumatic incident or helping them replace the alternator in their car, being there when they need it shows you remember what they did for you and how much it meant. It also shows that you’re willing to be just as good a friend to them as they were to you!

17. Be there for them.

Not every thank-you gesture has to be a grand public spectacle. Sometimes just giving them a place to come hang out when they’re lonely or showing up to offer them a sympathetic shoulder means the world to a person.

18. Listen to them.

Listening is almost as lost an art as the handwritten letter. When your friend or family member needs to talk, listen to them. Ask questions when appropriate, but just letting them know you’re there and paying attention to them to the exclusion of all else for a little while is a great way to say thank you for the times they listened to you.

19. Say it in another language…or two…

A simple thank you is great…but why not spice it up a little? Instead of just saying, “Thank you,” write or make a video of you telling them thank you in different languages. Some examples might be, “Gracias! Merci! Danke schoen! Spasibo! Mahalo!” and any other ways or languages you can think of. (The ones listed above are Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Hawaiian, in case you were wondering.) If you want to really get tricky about it, say a short phrase in each language that conveys why you’re thanking them!

20. Show them some love.

A simple touch, a hug, or helping out when they need it without being asked may be the most powerful gratitude message you can send. Offer to take the dogs for a walk, sit for the kids for a few hours, or run to the grocery store so they don’t have to. The little things are often the most important and meaningful. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still send a note, but sometimes your simple presence and willingness to help is all that really matters.

Featured photo credit: Hanny Naibaho via unsplash.com

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