Saturday, September 3, 2011

52 Proven Stress Reducers

1. Get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning. The inevitable morning mishaps will be less stressful.

2. Prepare for the morning the evening before. Set the breakfast table, make lunches, put out the clothes you plan to wear, and arrange your keys, briefcase and other essential walk-out-the-door items in a central place.

3. Don’t rely on your memory. Record appointment times, due dates and to-do items on a planner, in your Outlook program, or in your cell phone planning app. (“The palest ink is better than the most retentive memory.” - Old Chinese Proverb)

4. Do nothing which, after being done, leads you to tell a lie.

5. Make duplicates of all keys. Bury a house key in a secret spot in the garden and carry a duplicate car key in your wallet, apart from your key ring.

6. Practice preventive maintenance. Your car, appliances, home, and relationships will be less likely to break down or fall apart “at the worst possible moment.”

7. Be prepared to wait. A paperback or e-reader can make a wait in a post office line almost pleasant.

8. Procrastination is stressful. Whatever you want to do tomorrow, do today; whatever you want to do today, do it now.

9. Plan ahead. Don’t let the gas tank get below one-quarter full; keep a well-stocked “emergency shelf” of home staples; don’t wait until you’re down to your last bus token or postage stamp to buy more.

10. Don’t put up with something that doesn’t work right. If your alarm clock, wallet, shoe laces, windshield wipers – whatever – are a constant aggravation, get them fixed or get new ones.

11. Allow 15 minutes of extra time to get to appointments. Plan to arrive at an airport two hours before domestic departures.

12. Eliminate (or restrict) the amount of caffeine in your diet.

13. Always set up contingency plans. (“If for some reason either of us is delayed, here’s what we’ll do.” Or, “If we get split up in the shopping center, here’s where we’ll meet.")

14. Relax your standards. The world will not end if the grass doesn’t get mowed this weekend.

15. Pollyanna-Power! For every one thing that goes wrong, there are probably 10 or 50 or 100 blessings. Count ’em!

16. Ask questions. Taking a few moments to repeat directions or to confirm what someone expects of you can save hours.

17. Say no! Saying no to extra projects, social activities, and invitations you know you don’t have the time or energy for takes practice, self-respect, and a belief that everyone, everyday, needs quiet time to relax and be alone.

18. Turn off your phone. Want to take a long bath, meditate, sleep, or read without interruption? Drum up the courage to temporarily disconnect. (The possibility of there being a terrible emergency in the next hour or so is almost nil.)

19. Turn “needs” into preferences. Our basic physical needs translate into food, water, and keeping warm. Everything else is a preference. Don’t get attached to preferences.

20. Simplify, simplify, simplify!

21. Make friends with non-worriers. Nothing can get you into the habit of worrying faster than associating with chronic worrywarts.

22. Get up and stretch periodically if your job requires that you sit for extended periods.

23. Wear earplugs. If you need to find quiet at home, pop in some earplugs.

24. Get enough sleep. If necessary, use an alarm clock to remind you to go to bed.

25. Create order out of chaos. Organize your home and workspace so that you always know exactly where things are. Put things where they belong so you won’t have to go through the stress of losing things.

26. When feeling stressed, most people tend to breathe in short, shallow breaths. When you breathe like this, stale air is not expelled, oxidation of the tissues is incomplete, and muscle tension frequently results. Check your breathing throughout the day, and before, during, and after high-pressure situations. If you find your stomach muscles are knotted and your breathing is shallow, relax all your muscles and take several deep, slow breaths. Note how, when you’re relaxed, both your abdomen and chest expand when you breathe.

27. Writing your thoughts and feelings down (in a journal, or on paper to be thrown away) can help you clarify things and can give you a renewed perspective.

28. Try the following yoga technique whenever you feel the need to relax: Inhale deeply through your nose to the count of eight. Then, with lips puckered, exhale very slowly through your mouth to the count of 16, or for as long as you can. Concentrate on the long sighing sound and feel the tension dissolve. Repeat 10 times.

29. Inoculate yourself against a feared event. For example, before speaking in public, take time to go over every part of the experience in your mind. Imagine what you’ll wear, what the audience will look like, how you will pace your presentation, what questions will be asked and how you will answer them, and how you’ll conclude. Visualize the experience the way you would have it be. You’ll likely find that when the time comes to make the actual presentation, much of your anxiety will be gone.

30. When the stress of having to get a job done gets in the way of getting the job done, diversion – a voluntary change in activity or environment – may be just what you need.

31. Talk it out. Discussing your problems with a trusted friend can help clear your mind of confusion so you can concentrate on problem solving.

32. Put yourself in a comfortable environment in your personal life. If you don’t enjoy discussing politics, don’t associate with people who love to talk about politics.

33. Learn to live one day at a time. Don’t put energy into stressing over “what if” scenarios that may or may not occur in the future.

34. Every day, do something you really enjoy. A short walk, 15 minutes with a good book, or dinner with your kids can help diffuse stress that’s accumulated throughout the day.

35. Add an ounce of love to everything you do.

36. Take a hot bath or shower (or a cool one in summertime) to relieve tension.

37. Do something for somebody else. Even small acts of selflessness – paying somebody else’s toll, letting someone ahead of you in line – pay dividends by making both the giver and the receiver feel happy.

38. Focus on understanding rather than on being understood; on loving rather than on being loved.

39. Do something that will improve your appearance. Looking better can help you feel better.

40. Schedule a realistic day. Avoid the tendency to schedule back-to-back appointments; allow time between appointments for a breathing spell.

41. Become more flexible. Some things are worth not doing perfectly. Invest your energy in activities that are worth it.

42. Eliminate destructive self-talk: “I’m too old to’,” “I’m too fat to’,” “I should be more …”

43. Use your weekend time for a change of pace. If you work week is slow and patterned, make sure there is action and time for spontaneity built into your weekends. If your work week is fast-paced and full of people and deadlines, seek peace and solitude during your days off. Feel as if you aren’t accomplishing anything at work? Tackle a job on the weekend that you can finish with satisfaction.

44. “Worry about the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.” That’s another way of saying: take care of the today’s as best you can and the yesterdays and the tomorrows will take care of themselves.

45. Do one thing at a time. When you are with someone, be with that person and with no one or nothing else. When you are busy with a project, concentrate on doing that project and forget about everything else you have to do.

46. Allow yourself time — everyday — for privacy, quiet, and introspection.

47. If an especially unpleasant task faces you, do it early in the day and get it over with. The rest of your day will be relatively free of anxiety.

48. Learn to delegate responsibility to capable others.

49. Don’t forget to take a lunch break. Try to get away from your desk or work area in body and mind, even if it’s just for 15 or 20 minutes.

50. Forget about counting to 10. Count to 1,000 before doing something or saying anything that could make matters worse.

51. Adopt a forgiving view of events and people. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world.

52. Embrace an optimistic view of the world. Believe that most people are doing the best they can.