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Stress Less - 15 Practical Stress Management Tips

By Barbara Small

1. Get adequate rest. Adequate sleep is essential for physical and mental health. When working on long projects or with heavy concentration take short breaks every hour or two.

2. Use deep and slow breathing. One easy way to release tension is to take a few minutes to breathe deeply and slowly down into your belly. Imagine yourself breathing into the tense parts of your body.

3. Take responsibility for your own life. Learn to recognize and honor your needs and wants. Recognize your personal rights. You have the right to say no, you have the right to express your feelings or your opinion, and you have the right to ask to have your needs met. Be assertive in expressing your thoughts, feelings, needs and opinions.

4. Focus on the present and positive aspects of your life. Let go of regretting the past and worrying about the future. It is easier to problem solve when staying in the here-and-now.

5. Become aware of your negative and stressful self-talk (i.e. I can't do that because I'm..., I always make mistakes). Challenge and dispute that talk (i.e. I am successful at....., my....... does not determine my worth). Replace the negative statements with positive statements and encouragement (i.e. I have value, It is ok to make mistakes, I learn from my mistakes). Be aware of all the unspoken rules in your life and revise them. Replace stressful thoughts with calming self-talk.

6. Stop comparing yourself to others. Value your individuality.

7. Seek out social support. Talk to someone when you feel stressed. Brainstorming with another person can often help identify solutions to a problem that may not have been apparent to you.

8. Change your environment. Go on a holiday, away for the weekend, go for a walk, spend a few minutes in a place you find pleasurable and relaxing.

9. Take time to play! Take time to simply have fun. Laugh!

10. Learn to tolerate uncertainty and unpredictability. There are certain things in life that we just can't control. Things that happen suddenly and unexpectedly are more stressful than events that we anticipate. Learning to anticipate that change occurs reduces the probability of being caught by surprise. We increase our stress if we assume that the future will be just like the past.

11. Remember how you dealt with similar problems in the past. What worked and what didn't work? Ask yourself: why am I not coping now?

12. Prepare yourself for future stressful events by rehearsing what you will say or do. How will you deal with what may happen? What is the worse case scenario and can you handle it?

13. Become aware of how you deal with stress. What are the physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms that you develop when under stress? Use these as a "red light" or signal that you are becoming stressed.

14. Reduce the demands in your life by establishing priorities, eliminating some activities, simplifying other activities and refusing unreasonable demands. Learn time-management skills. Establish routines.

15. Take time to play! Take time to simply have fun. Laugh!

Visit for an expanded list of practical stress management tips as well as details on my two books, "What About Me, What Do I Want? Becoming Assertive" and "Blah, blah, blah... Changing Your Negative Self-talk. Both include further information on stress management as it relates to being assertiveness and using your positive self-talk to reduce your stressful thoughts.


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