Showing Page:
1/10
FINAL LESSON
Module 4: MANAGING AND CARING FOR THE SELF
Stress
is a fact of life, wherever you are and whatever you are doing. You cannot
avoid stress, but you can learn to manage it so it doesn’t manage you. Changes in our
livessuch as going to college, getting married, changing jobs, or illnessare frequent
sources of stress. Keep in mind that changes that cause stress can also benefit you.
Moving away from home to attend college, for example, creates personal-development
opportunities—new challenges, friends, and living arrangements. That is why it’s
important to know yourself and carefully consider the causes of stress.
Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your
emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The
ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun
plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.
The first step to manage stress is to understand yourself betterhow you react
in different situations, what causes you stress, and how you behave when you feel
stressed. Once you’ve done that, take the following steps:
Set priorities
.
Decide what is really important to get done today, and what can wait. This helps you to
know that you are working on your most immediate priorities, and you don’t have the
stress of trying to remember what you should be doing.
Practice facing stressful moments.
Think about the event or situation you expect to face and rehearse your reactions. Find
ways to practice dealing with the challenge. If you know that speaking in front of a group
frightens you, practice doing it, perhaps with a trusted friend or fellow student. If the
pressure of taking tests causes you to freeze up, buy some practice tests at the school
bookstore or online and work with them when there are no time pressures.
Examine your expectations.
Try to set realistic goals. It’s good to push yourself to achieve, but make sure your
expectations are realistic. Watch out for perfectionism. Be satisfied with doing the best
you can
Live a healthy lifestyle.
Get plenty of exercise. Eat healthy foods. Allow time for rest and relaxation. Find a
relaxation technique that works for youprayer, yoga, meditation, or breathing
exercises. Look for the humor in life, and enjoy yourself.
Learn to accept change as a part of life.
Showing Page:
2/10
Nothing stays the same. Develop a support system of friends and relatives you can talk
to when needed. Believe in yourself and your potential. Remember that many people
from disadvantaged backgrounds have gone on to enjoy great success in life.
IDENTIFY THE SOURCES OF STRESS IN YOUR LIFE
To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:
Do you explain away stress as temporary
(“I just have a million things going
on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a
breather?
Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life
(“Things
are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of
nervous energy, that’s all”)?
Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as
entirely normal and unexceptional?
Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it,
your stress level will remain outside your control.
Start a stress journal
A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the
way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal. As
you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Write down:
What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure).
How you felt, both physically and emotionally.
How you acted in response.
What you did to make yourself feel better.
Look at how you currently cope with stress
Think about the ways you currently manage and cope with stress in your life.
Your stress journal can help you identify them. Are your coping strategies healthy or
unhealthy, helpful or unproductive? Unfortunately, many people cope with stress in
ways that compound the problem.
Unhealthy ways of coping with stress
These coping strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they cause more
damage in the long run:
Showing Page:
3/10
• Smoking
• Drinking too much
• Overeating or undereating
• Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer
• Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities
• Using pills or drugs to relax
• Sleeping too much
• Procrastinating
• Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems
• Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)
Learning healthier ways to manage stress
If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional
and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones. There are many healthy ways to
manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the
situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to
think of the four As: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.
Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all”
solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so
experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel
calm and in control.
Dealing with Stressful Situations: (with 4 A’s)
Stress management strategy #1: Avoid unnecessary stress
Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs
to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your
life that you can eliminate.
Learn how to say “no”
Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your
personal or professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re
close to reaching them. Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe
for stress.
Avoid people who stress you out
If someone consistently causes stress in
your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you
spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.
Take control of your environment
If the evening news makes you anxious,
turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If
going to the market is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online.
Avoid hot-button topics
If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them
off your conversation list. If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the
same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of
discussion.
Pare down your to-do list
Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily
tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds”
Showing Page:
4/10
and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or
eliminate them entirely.
Stress management strategy #2: Alter the situation
If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to
change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. Often, this involves
changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
Express your feelings instead of bottling them up.
If something or someone
is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If
you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely
remain the same.
Be willing to compromise.
When you ask someone to change their behavior,
be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll
have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.
Be more assertive.
Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Deal with problems
head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them. If you’ve got an exam to
study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only
have five minutes to talk.
Manage your time better.
Poor time management can cause a lot of stress.
When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and
focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you
can alter the amount of stress you’re under.
Stress management strategy #3: 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.
Reframe problems.
Try to view stressful situations from a more positive
perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to
pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.
Look at the big picture.
Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself
how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it
really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy
elsewhere.
Adjust your standards.
Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress.
Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable
standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”
Focus on the positive.
When stress is getting you down, take a moment to
reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive
qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.
Showing Page:
5/10
Adjusting Your Attitude
How you think can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical well-
being. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself, your body reacts as if it
were in the throes of a tension-filled situation. If you see good things about yourself, you
are more likely to feel good; the reverse is also true. Eliminate words such as "always,"
"never," "should," and "must." These are telltale marks of self-defeating thoughts.
Stress management strategy #4: Accept the things you can’t change
Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors
such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such
cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may
be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t
change.
Don’t try to control the uncontrollable.
Many things in life are beyond our
control particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over
them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to
problems.
Look for the upside.
As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us
stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for
personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation,
reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.
Share your feelings.
Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a
therapist. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if
there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.
Learn to forgive.
Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that
people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from
negative energy by forgiving and moving on.
Stress management strategy #5: Make time for fun and relaxation
Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in
your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be
in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come.
Healthy ways to relax and recharge
Go for a walk.
Spend time in nature.
Call a good friend.
Sweat out tension with a good workout.
Write in your journal.
Take a long bath.
Light scented candles
Savor a warm cup of coffee or tea.
Play with a pet.
Showing Page:
6/10
Work in your garden.
Get a massage.
Curl up with a good book.
Listen to music.
Watch a comedy
Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care
of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.
Set aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule.
Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from
all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.
Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A
strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress.
Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you
joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act
of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.
Learn the relaxation response
You can control your stress levels with relaxation techniques that evoke the
body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress
response. Regularly practicing these techniques will build your physical and emotional
resilience, heal your body, and boost your overall feelings of joy and equanimity.
Stress management strategy #6: Adopt a healthy lifestyle
You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health.
Exercise regularly.
Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing
the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times
per week. Nothing beats aerobic exercise for releasing pent-up stress and
tension.
Eat a healthy diet.
Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with
stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and
keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals
throughout the day.
Reduce caffeine and sugar.
The temporary "highs" caffeine and sugar provide
often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee,
soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and
you’ll sleep better.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs.
Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs
may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t
Showing Page:
7/10
avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear
mind.
Get enough sleep.
Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body.
Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think
irrationally.
POINTS TO REMEMBER:
o
Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your
emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems.
o
The first step to manage stress is to understand yourself betterhow you react
in different situations, what causes you stress, and how you behave when you
feel stressed.
o
Use the Four A’s to deal with stressful situation. Avoid unnecessary stress, Alter
the situation, and Adapt to the stressor.
Lesson 13
TAKING CARE OF THE SELF: The need for self-care
and self- compassion
Self-care isn’t as easy as it seems. As college students, it can be hard to
prioritize our own health, especially when we are pushed to prioritize academics, work,
and extracurricular. However, how we take care of ourselves now determines our health
in the future, which is why developing good self-care habits is important. Moreover,
making self-care a priority is a huge challenge for many students and women while
spending so much time for studying, working and caring for others that there’s no time
for you.
If you do find time for self-care you often feel guilty. It’s not your fault you’ve been
conditioned to put everyone and everything else first and told that self-care is selfish.
However, self-care is about long-term wellbeing, not short-term pleasure. Caring for
yourself helps you to feel strong, healthy and confident and have the energy to help
others and make a difference in the world.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is an essential social work survival skill. Self-care refers to activities and
practices that we can engage in on a regular basis to reduce stress and maintain and
enhance our short- and longer-term health and well-being. Self-care is necessary for
your effectiveness and success in your academic journey and in your future profession
and personal commitments.
Image care of https://www.instagram.com/lauraheartlines/?hl=en
Showing Page:
8/10
True self-care is a journey, a lifestyle, and a continuous process to living a
healthy life. It involves assessing various aspects of our lives to see which areas need
improvement and then addressing these areas. Sometimes it is doing the tasks that we
don’t want to do that take time and effort. Self-care involves determining what is most
important in your life and being proactive with your situation.
It is realizing that you are important, and what you have to say matters. True self-
care is prioritizing your mental, physical, and emotional health to have a more complete
and balanced life.
The good thing is that self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. It isn’t a binary
system where you either do self-care or you don’t. It is a gradient, with varying degrees
that is relative to where you are in your life. Minor changes accumulate into major
developments in the long-run. The path to better self-care may but it is realistic and
attainable.
So, how do you start on a path to better self-care? Here are some simple steps
that if followed can lead to significant changes down the road.
Step 1: Start where you are now and set it as the baseline for your self-care strategy.
Be honest with yourself and determine where you are in terms of self-care. Try to
accept where you are and realize that any improvement from here is helpful. We are all
at different points in our lives, so try not to compare yourself to others. It is never too
late to make a change and work towards a healthier life.
Step 2: Choose one thing that you want to focus on and set a goal. Wanting to improve
many aspects of your life is natural, but if you focus on too many things, it can hinder
improvements in all areas. Focusing on one goal lets you ease into a new lifestyle and
will lead to better results in the long-run. Write this goal down, in a notebook or on a
sticky note or type it out on a computer, whatever works best for you. This could be
something like ‘exercise more’ or ‘become better at dealing with stress’ or ‘eat healthier.’
The purpose of one general goal is to prime your brain for growth and improvement
which can materialize through the area of self-care you choose.
Step 3: Break this into smaller, specific and realistic self-care activities. For example, if
your focus is exercising more, break this into small tasks that you can visualize, such as
“go for a walk in the Arboretum for 15 minutes on Monday after class” or “bike to
campus on Friday instead of taking the bus.” The more specific you are in terms of time,
location, and other details, the greater the chance that you will follow through with your
self-care strategy. Also, even if you are excited and motivated to make a change, start
slow. Habit formation and lifestyle change take time and being too ambitious may
quickly lead to burnout. Write these specific activities out as well or get a notebook or a
note app specifically for your specific tasks.
Step 4: Schedule self-care into your routine. If you use Google calendar or other forms
of organization, scheduling in time to work on tasks is important for holding you
accountable. Being proactive is vital for gradual growth because without a plan, the task
will likely continue to be pushed off to the point of non-existence. An easy way to do this
is to couple your task with something already in your daily routine. This could be
Showing Page:
9/10
deciding to meditate before you shower or drinking a glass of water right when you
wake up. Adding something to your current habits can take less energy and be more
efficient than creating a brand-new habit for self-care.
Step 5: Set up a system to check-in with your self-care strategy. This step is critical in
the maintenance and growth of the change you want to make. This is the step where
you evaluate what is and isn’t working. It is checking in with yourself to see how you feel
after each time you work on your specific tasks. Do you have to put in a lot of effort or
go out of your way to do it? Do you enjoy doing it? Do you see how it is benefitting you?
Try to see what barriers are preventing you from doing something and set up systems to
go around or reduce these barriers.
These steps are now part of your toolkit that you can use to work on your self-care.
However, you are the one who must use these tools on yourself, to tighten the bolts,
hammer down the nails, adjust the gears.
If the 5 steps are too much for you or you feel like you don’t have the time or energy to
follow them, try starting by simply checking in with yourself throughout the day. Take a
few seconds to think about what you are doing and how you feel when you’re doing it.
How do you feel when you drink a cold glass of water? How do you feel when you
spend time with others? Are your physical and mental needs being met? Understanding
where you are and seeing if you need to make any changes is the first step to better
self-care.
WHAT IS SELF-COMPASSION?
Self-compassion is extending compassion to one's self in instances of perceived
inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. Kristin Neff has defined self-compassion as
being composed of three main components self-kindness, common humanity, and
mindfulness.
In order to do the thing we have to have some idea of what the thing is. As a quick
definition, it is helpful to think of self-compassion as extending compassion to one's self
in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.
But the scientific community has more granular definition of self-compassion that has 3
essential components:
Self-kindness - This aspect is about showing ourselves the same compassionate
care that we show our friends. Instead of berating ourselves, self-compassion
involves soothing our suffering and showing up as our own inner ally. Basically,
treat yourself as you would a cherished family member or friend and you’ll
already be moving in the direction of a more self-compassionate lifestyle.
Common humanity - This element is about acknowledging that everyone suffers.
Truthfully, tough times are inherent to the human condition and no one escapes
it. It may sometimes seem like everyone on Facebook is experiencing never-
ending blissful moments, but most of it is a façade. Just look at how many
famous people end up in rehab or how many “successful” people report feeling
unfulfilled. We’re all imperfect beings, and it’s ok to feel sad, we all feel it whether
or not we show it. It’s comforting to remind ourselves that we are not alone in our
suffering and that we should not feel isolated by our imperfections.
Showing Page:
10/10
Mindfulness - If we want to comfort ourselves and do better next time, we need to
first acknowledge that we’re suffering or that we did something shitty. It’s ok to
make mistakes, but we need to be turn towards our feelings and behaviors if we
want to improve.
Our minds can do some impressive gymnastics to repress pain or externalize
blame for something we’ve done… Self-compassion encourages us to face ourselves in
a less critical way, so we can really change for the better. Management requires
awareness, so mindfulness is a necessary component of practicing self-compassion.
So the next time we screw up, there may be a silver lining opportunity - to come to a full
stop, become mindful of the pain, acknowledge that everyone is suffering in some way,
and offer ourselves some loving kindness.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
Self-care refers to activities and practices that we can engage in on a regular
basis to reduce stress and maintain and enhance our short- and longer-term
health and well-being.
Self-compassion is extending compassion to one's self in instances of perceived
inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. self-compassion composed of three
main components self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.

Unformatted Attachment Preview

FINAL LESSON Module 4: MANAGING AND CARING FOR THE SELF Stress is a fact of life, wherever you are and whatever you are doing. You cannot avoid stress, but you can learn to manage it so it doesn’t manage you. Changes in our lives—such as going to college, getting married, changing jobs, or illness—are frequent sources of stress. Keep in mind that changes that cause stress can also benefit you. Moving away from home to attend college, for example, creates personal-development opportunities—new challenges, friends, and living arrangements. That is why it’s important to know yourself and carefully consider the causes of stress. Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on. The first step to manage stress is to understand yourself better—how you react in different situations, what causes you stress, and how you behave when you feel stressed. Once you’ve done that, take the following steps: ➢ Set priorities. Decide what is really important to get done today, and what can wait. This helps you to know that you are working on your most immediate priorities, and you don’t have the stress of trying to remember what you should be doing. ➢ Practice facing stressful moments. Think about the event or situation you expect to face and rehearse your reactions. Find ways to practice dealing with the challenge. If you know that speaking in front of a group frightens you, practice doing it, perhaps with a trusted friend or fellow student. If the pressure of taking tests causes you to freeze up, buy some practice tests at the school bookstore or online and work with them when there are no time pressures. ➢ Examine your expectations. Try to set realistic goals. It’s good to push yourself to achieve, but make sure your expectations are realistic. Watch out for perfectionism. Be satisfied with doing the best you can ➢ Live a healthy lifestyle. Get plenty of exercise. Eat healthy foods. Allow time for rest and relaxation. Find a relaxation technique that works for you—prayer, yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises. Look for the humor in life, and enjoy yourself. ➢ Learn to accept change as a part of life. Nothing stays the same. Develop a support system of friends and relatives you can talk to when needed. Believe in yourself and your potential. Remember that many people from disadvantaged backgrounds have gone on to enjoy great success in life. IDENTIFY THE SOURCES OF STRESS IN YOUR LIFE To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses: • Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather? • Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”)? • Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional? Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control. Start a stress journal A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Write down: What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure). How you felt, both physically and emotionally. How you acted in response. What you did to make yourself feel better. Look at how you currently cope with stress Think about the ways you currently manage and cope with stress in your life. Your stress journal can help you identify them. Are your coping strategies healthy or unhealthy, helpful or unproductive? Unfortunately, many people cope with stress in ways that compound the problem. Unhealthy ways of coping with stress These coping strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they cause more damage in the long run: • Smoking • Drinking too much • Overeating or undereating • Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer • Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities • Using pills or drugs to relax • Sleeping too much • Procrastinating • Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems • Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence) Learning healthier ways to manage stress If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones. There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four As: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept. Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control. Dealing with Stressful Situations: (with 4 A’s) Stress management strategy #1: Avoid unnecessary stress Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate. • • • • • Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to reaching them. Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress. Avoid people who stress you out – If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely. Take control of your environment – If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online. Avoid hot-button topics – If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list. If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion. Pare down your to-do list – Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely. Stress management strategy #2: Alter the situation If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life. • Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same. • Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground. Be more assertive. Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk. Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under. • • Stress management strategy #3: 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. • • • • Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time. Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere. Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.” Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective. Adjusting Your Attitude How you think can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical wellbeing. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself, your body reacts as if it were in the throes of a tension-filled situation. If you see good things about yourself, you are more likely to feel good; the reverse is also true. Eliminate words such as "always," "never," "should," and "must." These are telltale marks of self-defeating thoughts. Stress management strategy #4: Accept the things you can’t change Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change. • • • • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control— particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems. Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes. Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation. Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on. Stress management strategy #5: Make time for fun and relaxation Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come. Healthy ways to relax and recharge ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ Go for a walk. Spend time in nature. Call a good friend. Sweat out tension with a good workout. Write in your journal. Take a long bath. Light scented candles Savor a warm cup of coffee or tea. Play with a pet. ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ Work in your garden. Get a massage. Curl up with a good book. Listen to music. Watch a comedy ❖ Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. ❖ Set aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries. ❖