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Top Life Stressors & Quick Coping Solutions

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Stress, like life, happens. A stress-free life is certainly a worthy goal, but not a very realistic one. The trick is to avoid stress whenever possible. That can be as simple as planning for contingencies in your morning commute, so if there’s a traffic snarl you either know a back way to work, or you’ve built in some extra time.

Sounds good and all, but there will always be that Friday at 4 p.m. when your boss wants to have a quick meeting — that turns into a weekend assignment when you had other plans.  Or a science project is due on Monday, and your fourth-grader only alerted you to the fact on Saturday evening.

How to Combat Stress

Here are some tips to tackle stress before it takes a toll on your health:

Avoid isolation. If you work alone, try to get out at lunch, or partake in an evening activity that lets you be around other people. Family dinners work well, and if you’re single maybe have a night where friends gather for a movie or meal.

Perfectionism. Don’t let the great be the enemy of the good. Yes, a work project has to meet certain goals. Yes, you’d like a clean house. But the world won’t end if the yard doesn’t get mowed or raked, and it’s unlikely you’ll be fired if the task was nearly impossible and you did your best.

Time and money. There is never enough of either. Don’t set unreasonable goals that can’t be met — that’s a recipe for instant, and nonstop, stress.

Physical and Emotional Manifestations of Stress

The signs of physical stress include:

  •     fatigue
  •     headache
  •     hypertension
  •     hyperventilating
  •     stomach upset
  •     pain

The signs of emotional stress include:

  •     anxiety
  •     depression
  •     insomnia

Coping with Stress

In order to cope with stress, learn to recognize the cause and respond in the moment. Don’t put it off, as that will only let the stress continue to build. One great approach that you can do anytime, anywhere? Breathing.

Sometimes we forget how to breathe normally. In a stressful situation pay attention to each breath you take. Breathe slowly and deeply, not with your chest but with your stomach. 

Then check in with your body. Under stress, we tend to tense our muscles. Try to figure out which muscle is under tension, and then consciously relax it.  When the body relaxes, the heart sets a normal rhythm and stress is reduced. 

Some other ideas? If you’re tired, rest. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re overloaded, figure out what you can let go of, as long as you’re not ditching fun and relaxation in favor of “getting it all done.” 

Destressing isn’t done overnight, and it’s hard to completely unwind. Still, for your physical, mental and emotional well-being, know the signs and try to step back, take a calming breath and relax when everything seems to be closing in.  You’ll see things more clearly, and your mind and body will thank you.

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