Identify the source of your stress.
- Though some sources are easy to identify, it may be difficult to really determine what’s bothering you. The first step to managing your stress is pinpointing the culprit.
Focus on the moment.
- Though it can be hard, you’ll have better stress management by being “mindful”—that is, really paying attention to the present and trying to get out of the gears of the past and the future (both of which are major sources of stress). That means especially noticing the things that you ignore, like your breath, body sensations, and emotions. One way to practice living in the moment: the body scan.
How do you do it? Focus on every part of your body, which will help you to relax:
- Lie down.
- Close your eyes and notice your posture.
- Think about the natural flow of your breath, focusing on air filling and leaving the lungs.
- Notice your toes—any tension, tingling, or temperature change?
- Move to thinking about your feet, heels, and ankles, all the way up through the knees, thighs, and pelvis.
- Continue with each body part, going through both the front and back of your body as you work your way up, and finishing with the throat, jaw, tongue, face, and brow.
Go through your health checklist:
- Stress is much more manageable when the other aspects of your life—from your general health to your sleep patterns to your eating habits—are in good order. When you don’t get enough sleep, for instance, your body produces more stress hormones, making you more vulnerable to the damaging effects of stress. Evaluate what areas in your life need your attention, and work on fixes.
Do the opposite:
- Every emotion has an “urge to act” that goes with it. When we feel afraid or anxious, we avoid things; when we are depressed or sad, we withdraw (stay in bed). When we are angry, we want to lash out or yell. Unfortunately, each of these mood-inspired behaviors actually increases an emotion, not decreases it. However, if you can act the opposite way, you can decrease the emotion. Angry at someone? Don’t lash out, but, rather, be empathetic. Depressed? Instead of shutting yourself in, go out. Rather than letting your emotions determine what you do, take control and choose how you feel.
Begin to manage the effects of stress
- This is a long range strategy of adapting to your situation, and the effects of stress in your life. Try to isolate and work with one “effect” at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself. for example, if you are not sleeping well, seek help on this one problem.
- Why hate when a little dislike will do? Why generate anxiety when you can be nervous? Why rage when anger will do the job? Why be depressed when you can just be sad?
Avoid self-medication or escape
- Alcohol and drugs can mask stress. They don’t help deal with the problems
- by fretting about your entire workload. Handle each task as it comes, or selectively deal with matters in some priority
- if stress is putting you in an unmanageable state or interfering with your schoolwork, social and/or work life,