STRESSED OUT? TRY THESE STRATEGIES TO COPE!

In our busy lives, we often feel stressed and anxious…about money, kids, work, school…you name it.  Unfortunately, too many of us resort to alcohol or drugs to deal with the stress.  But these are not real solutions; they simply mask the underlying problem.  And in fact, both can lead to addiction, a very unhappy outcome that wreaks havoc with your life.

So what are we to do about anxiety and stress?  Here are some strategies for coping:

  • Incorporate into your daily life things that relax you like yoga, meditation, walks in nature, exercise, listening to music.  Anything that is calming to you.
  • Become aware of what triggers your anxiety.  Often it’s negative thinking where we project the worst possible outcome into the future.  When you find you are going down that rocky road, stop your thoughts, and replace them with something positive…a beautiful place you’ve visited, an experience where you felt joyful or strong, an affirmation that validates you.
  • Take long, slow, cleansing breaths.  Breathing is such a simple thing, and it’s incredibly effective in mitigating anxiety.  When you’re anxious or stressed, train yourself to stop what you’re doing and breathe.  It only takes a few minutes and you can do it anywhere without anyone knowing.
  • Laugh!  It’s a great way to alleviate stress.   Instead of beating yourself up for something,  laugh instead.  It doesn’t matter if your laughter is contrived.  It still works, and pretty soon you might find that contrived laughs turn into real ones. A lighthearted approach to life is a healthier way to live.  So, drop the doom and gloom and polish your sense of humor.  Watch funny movies, read funny stories (Sunday comics are great for this), get an MP3 of your favorite comedian.  Whatever you find that’s funny…do it!
  • Talk to a good friend or family member you trust.  Let them know you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious.  Oftentimes, just confiding in someone makes a big difference.  They don’t have to give advice, just listening is enough.
  • Ask for help when you need it.  A lot of us think we should do everything our self.   That’s never true.  We all need help at one time or other and we need to ask for it.  People love to help out when they can.  It brings them closer to you and makes them feel good doing something for a friend.  Giving is receiving!
  • Smile.  While this seems ridiculous to change anything, it’s not.  Changing from a negative to a positive face actually creates new neuro-pathways in the brain.  Changing your posture from slumping to a power stance (legs apart, hands on hips, chest out) will do the same.

Hopefully you’ll find one, two or more of these strategies work for you.  Can’t help if you don’t try…right?

Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about relationships. You can buy it on Kindle worldwide from all Amazon websites, including www.amazon.com

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