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Stress Management Tips…

Stress is not easy to deal with. Many of us learned how to work through stressful life situations by observing our parents and social support network as we grew up. Stress is very much an expected and normal part of our lives (especially if you live in Manhattan!) but it’s not always something we know how to handle. If you didn’t have positive coping skills modeled for you, it may make it harder to handle your everyday difficulties.

It is not possible to wave a magic wand and do away with stress completely…but you can benefit from having a plan in place to help you feel as good as possible when things get tough. This blog post will give you some simple tips for how to make small tweaks in your life which can have big results. Stress is indeed manageable. Read on!

  1. Give Yourself A Little Break. Try to eat balanced, regular meals throughout the day. Get the right amount of sleep each night (this is different for everyone). Try to fit in some daily exercise. Avoid turning to unhealthy fixes like alcohol, drugs or cigarettes. Take time to give yourself a mental health break during the day whenever possible (even if it’s only a few minutes!)  Implementing these things will allow you to be less vulnerable to the negative effects that stress can cause when it sets in.
  2. Turn To Your Support System. Take time to connect with others as opposed to keeping all of your feelings bottled up inside. A close friend or family member can help you to understand yourself and your present situation with more clarity. This is also where a therapist can be of assistance.
  3. Deal With The Present. I often remind my clients that we can’t change what has happened in the past in the same way that we can’t control what will happen in the future. Try and focus on the present and prepare for the future; this might mean taking an inventory of what is in your control and what action steps can help to create the future you want.
  4. Identify Worry. Worry is defined as thoughts, images and emotions of a negative nature in which mental attempts are made to avoid anticipated potential threats. Many of my clients tell me that they find themselves trying to create a detailed plan for ever possible future outcome. It’s important to remember that there are instances in life (many instances!) when we do not have the ability to control everything. This is something that is important to accept.
  5. Practice Your Breathing. When we are feeling stressed or anxious, we often forget to breathe. Remembering to breathe slowly and deeply when you are stressed can help to bring oxygen flow to your body, it can release tension and clear your mind.
  6. Think About Your Thinking. I work with many of my clients to take a step back and identify their thought patterns. You can read more about this by checking out my post on cognitive distortions here: http://www.synergeticpsychotherapy.com/2012/02/21/thinking-about-your-thinking-cognitive-distortions/ Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions (which can cause stress to skyrocket) — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.
  7. Set Boundaries. Many of us have a hard time saying “no.” You can’t do everything that people ask you to do, or you would like to do. Generally there is not enough time or energy to go around. When you set healthy boundaries in place, you are making yourself a priority and making yourself important. I explain to my clients that this will actually make you more present and capable to fully attend to the things that you agree to do. When you get in the habit of prioritizing and setting boundaries, you will most likely find yourself feeling a bit more relaxed and in control of your time. You can learn a bit more about setting boundaries here: http://www.synergeticpsychotherapy.com/2012/02/11/honoring-your-personal-boundaries/
  8. Look For The Positive. Self acceptance is all about being compassionate and happy with who you are in the present moment. This is an agreement that you decide to make with yourself to appreciate, accept and support who you are right now, even if there are parts of yourself that you might like to work on or change (eventually). We are all “works in progress”…try to engage in positive self-talk when you wake up in the morning and before you fall asleep at night. The power of positive thoughts is important. If you hear something negative about yourself often enough you will begin to believe it and live it, so why not try doing the opposite and say something positive and supportive? To learn more about simple statements you can use to foster self-acceptance, read on here: http://www.synergeticpsychotherapy.com/2012/01/26/simple-statements-for-developing-your-self-acceptance/
  9. Let Your Devices Rest For A Bit. Although it is hard, try to unplug your many devices each day. Unplug your iPod, your iPad, your computer, your cell phone, etc. This is time that you can take to focus on yourself and de-stress. When you plug back in, hopefully you will feel more calm and centered. You might even be more efficient!

It takes time to figure out what works best for you in times of stress. Getting the right tools in place can help you to feel more in control and ready to face challenges in your life.

“You are the master of your own destiny. Use your strengths well. They are the keys to your destiny and your success in life. Once you know yourself and take action to realize your dreams,  you can unlock the doors to your own potential.” (-Neil Somerville)

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