18 tips for dealing with stress and tension

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Stress and tension are normal reactions to events that threaten us. Such threats can come from accidents, financial troubles and problems on the job or with family. The way we deal with these pressures has a lot to do with our mental, emotional and physical health.

The following are suggestions to get you started on managing the stress in your life:

  1. Be aware – recognize your symptoms of stress.
  2. Check your lifestyle – look at your lifestyle and see what can be changed – in your work situation, your family situation, or your schedule.
  3. Use relaxation techniques – Yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or massage.
  4. Exercise – physical activity is one of the most effective stress remedies around!
  5. Time management – do essential tasks and prioritize the others. Consider those who may be affected by your decisions, such as family and friends. Use a check list; you will receive satisfaction as you check off completed jobs!
  6. Watch your diet – alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fats and tobacco all put a strain on your body’s ability to cope with stress. A diet with a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and foods high in protein but low in fat will help create optimum health. Contact your local Heart and Stroke Foundation for information about healthy eating.
  7. Recharge – get enough rest and sleep.
  8. Talk with others – talk with friends, professional counsellors, support groups or relatives about what’s bothering you.
  9. Help others – volunteer work can be an effective and satisfying stress reducer.
  10. Get away for a while – read a book, watch a movie, play a game, listen to music or go on vacation. Leave yourself some time that’s just for you.
  11. Work off your anger – get physically active, dig in the garden, start a project, or get your spring cleaning done.
  12. Give in occasionally – avoid quarrels whenever possible.
  13. Tackle one thing at a time – don’t do too much at once.
  14. No undue pressure on yourself – don’t try to be perfect.
  15. Don’t be critical – ease up on criticism of others.
  16. Play nice – don’t be too competitive.
  17. Be friendly – make the first move to be friendly.
  18. HAVE SOME FUN!! Laugh with people you enjoy!

Stress Stretch

When you are under stress, tension accumulates in your neck and jaw. Take a minute to gently and slowly move your head from front to back, side to side, and in a full circle. For your jaw, stretch your mouth open and slowly move your lower jaw from side to side and front to back. (NOTE: If you notice pain or if you have had any injuries to your back, neck or jaw, check with your doctor first.)

Set a SMART Goal (and achieve it!)

Unrealistic goals that never seem to be reached add to your stress level. Try setting one goal for yourself this week using the SMART approach:
Specific – Pick one small goal and write it down.
Measurable – Can you count it or check it off a list?
Achievable – Is it realistic? If not, make it smaller.
Rewarded – Reward yourself when you reach your goal.
Time-limited – Set a specific, realistic date to finish or achieve your goal.

Comedy Break – Laugh at Stress

Set aside some time for laughter, your body’s natural stress release mechanism. Rent your favourite comedy movie, record a TV show that you know makes you laugh (and keep it on hand for stress emergencies), go to the library and borrow a book that can make you laugh, read the daily comics in the newspaper, or phone the funniest person you know!

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

Courses are offered through CMHA MANITOBA AND WINNIPEG office. Call 204-982-6100 or visit Canadian Mental Health Association site for more information.

Walking Breaks

Walk away from stress instead of sitting down for another cup of stress-inducing caffeine on your coffee break, lunch hour or when you’re at home by going for a stress relieving and energizing walk. If you don’t like walking by yourself, try forming a walking club with two or three of your co-workers or friends.

 
Taken from Mental Health Resource Guide, 22nd edition, 2017. Reprinted with permission from the Canadian Mental Health Association (Manitoba and Winnipeg).

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