Stress is common to everyone. Our bodies are designed to feel stress and react to it. It keeps us alert and ready to avoid danger. But it is not always possible to avoid or change events that may cause stress and it is easy to feel trapped and unable to cope. When stress persists, it can affect the body and illnesses can occur. The key to coping with stress is to identify stressors in your life and learn ways to direct and reduce stress.
Learning an effective means of relaxation and using it regularly is a good first step. Allow yourself some "quiet time," even if it's just a few minutes. Examine and modify your thinking, particularly unrealistic expectations. Talking problems out with a friend or family member can help put things in proper perspective. Seeking professional assistance can help you gain a new perspective on how to manage some of the more difficult forms of stress. Other approaches to reducing stress include:
- Keep a positive attitude. Believe in yourself.
- Accept that there are events you cannot control.
- Be assertive instead of aggressive. "Assert" your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, combative, or passive.
- Learn to relax.
- Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when it is fit.
- Eat well-balanced meals.
- Stop smoking.
- Limit or avoid use of alcohol and caffeine.
- Set realistic goals and expectations.
- Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
- Don't rely on alcohol or drugs to reduce stress.
- Learn to use stress management techniques and coping mechanisms, such as deep breathing or guided imagery.