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Stress Management Strategies

A lot of books have been written about stress. We know that too much of it affects our health negatively. Cortisol levels rise, sleep patterns get interrupted, we may feel drained and edgy. What stresses us? Is stress something outside of ourselves that we have no control over, or can we take a different angle at looking at this?

Granted, we have no control over unforeseen circumstances or other people’s behavior. We do, however, have control over how we choose to react to any given situation or challenge. We can change the way we think about an event. We can choose to react in a way that is not harmful to our wellbeing.

Here are some strategies:

Re-frame your thinking: Acknowledge a negative/irrational thought, cancel it out and replace it with a more positive, beneficial thought.

Put things in perspective: Ask yourself: Will this matter one year from now? (The answer in most cases is “no”)

Talk to a friend: When we feel stressed, talking to a friend can alleviate those feelings by brainstorming potential solutions and positive outcomes.

Exercise: Research has shown that moving our bodies regularly and breaking a good sweat are proven stress busters. It clears the mind and counteracts the release of stress hormones.

Journal: Writing about what stresses us may provide some relief by simply acknowledging our reactions and possible causes.

Deep Breathing: Taking five to ten deep breaths facilitates an immediate relaxation response. It is a quick and invisible tool that should be in everyone’s tool box.

Meditate or practice yoga regularly: Having a regular practice which focuses on slowing down is a proven stress management tool. Even 2 minutes of daily “mini-meditations” are a great start!

I invite you to make daily gratitude lists before you go to bed. Happiness research shows that it creates a positive shift in our wellbeing. Also, doing nice things for someone else takes the focus away from what’s wrong in our lives. So, let’s be grateful for all the good things in our lives and remember to “not sweat the small stuff”.

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