What happens when we continue “burning the candle from both ends” until we reach physical and emotional exhaustion? Just like the candle itself, we risk burning ourselves out.

There is a parable of a frog sitting in a pot on the stove. If dropped into a pot of boiling water, a frog would likely notice and try to escape. But when placed in a pot that is slowly approaching a boil, the frog does not notice until the water has already reached an unbearable heat—at which point it is too hot for the frog to survive.

Have you ever experienced a slow acceptance of the pressures around you, until everything is “just too much” and you can barely cope? So what if we could notice the boiling signs earlier and even “turn down” the heat?

  1. Identify the source of stress and take responsibility

Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. While it’s easy to identify major stressors such as changing jobs, moving, or a going through a divorce, pinpointing the sources of chronic stress can be more complicated. It’s all too easy to overlook how your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors contribute to your everyday stress levels.

Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines, but maybe it’s your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that is causing the stress.

Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.

  1. Practice 4As

Avoid unnecessary stress

Ø  Learn how to say “no.”

Ø  Avoid people who stress you out

Ø  Take control of your environment

Ø  Pare down your to-do list.

Alter the situation

If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.

Ø  Express your feelings instead of bottling them up

Ø  Be willing to compromise.

Ø  Create a balanced schedule.

Adapt to the stressor

If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude

Ø  Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective

Ø  Look at the big picture. Will it matter in the long run.

Ø  Adjust your standards. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others

Ø  Practice gratitude.

Accept what you cannot change

Some sources of stress are unavoidable such as serious illness or death

Ø  Don’t try to control the uncontrollable – focus on what you can control

Ø  Look for the upside – look for opportunities for growth

Ø  Learn to forgive – Accept that we live in an imperfect world

Ø  Share your feelings – Talk to a trusted friend or professional

 

  1. Get moving

Physical activity is a huge stress reliever; Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good.

Ø  Put on some music and dance around

Ø  Take your dog for a walk

Ø  Walk or cycle to the grocery store

Ø  Use the stairs at home or work rather than an elevator

Ø  Park your car in the farthest spot in the lot and walk the rest of the way

Ø  Pair up with an exercise partner and encourage each other as you work out

 

  1. Connect with others

There is nothing more calming than spending quality time with another human being.

Ø  Reach out to a colleague at work

Ø  Help someone else by volunteering

Ø  Have lunch or coffee with a friend

Ø  Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly

Ø  Accompany someone to the movies or a concert

Ø  Call or email an old friend

Ø  Go for a walk with a workout buddy

Ø  Schedule a weekly dinner date

Ø  Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club

Ø  Confide in a clergy member, friend, coach or mentor

 

  1. Make time for fun and relaxation

Do not get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget your own needs.

  • Ø Set aside leisure time
  • Ø Do something you enjoy every day.
  • Ø Keep your sense of humor.
  • Ø Take up a relaxation practice.
  1. Manage your time better

When you are stretched too thin it is hard to stay calm and focused.

  • Ø Don’t over-commit yourself.
  • Ø Prioritize tasks
  • Ø Break projects into small steps
  • Ø Delegate responsibility
  1. Maintain balance with a healthy lifestyle

Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress

  • Ø Eat a healthy diet.
  • Ø Reduce caffeine and sugar.
  • Ø Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs
  • Ø Get enough sleep.

Effective stress management, helps you break the hold stress has on your life, so you can be happier, healthier, and more productive. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun—and the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.

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