Finding a Stress-Free You

by Amy Roper
(last updated August 23, 2013)

Stress—just hearing the word can increase our heart rate and start a pounding headache. Stress is not always bad; eustress is a productive, motivating kind of stress, while distress is the unpleasant and often unhealthy kind of stress we want to avoid. While we often can't change stressful situations we find ourselves in, we can learn to control and avoid a negative reaction to these situations, leaving ourselves relaxed and at peace.

There are things that we can do to prevent a stressful reaction for ourselves:

  • Identify stressors. Do you consistently wake up too late to get to work on time? Are you always in a bad mood after talking to a certain family member? Have you taken on too many projects to the point where they're no longer enjoyable? If you can determine patterns of what is stressing you out, you may be able to change the stressful situation directly. If you find it's something you can't change, then you know not to stress yourself out further about changing the situation and instead you can work on your reaction to it.
  • Don't overcommit. It's nice to say "yes" to people who need your help, as well as being involved in things you enjoy. However, doing too much of what you enjoy is still too much—and seriously decreases your enjoyment. Understand that you can't do everything; make priorities and don't feel guilty about saying no sometimes.
  • Be organized. Make plans and set deadlines. If you are given a deadline by someone else, set your personal deadline just a bit earlier to give yourself some cushion. Don't procrastinate.
  • Simplify your life. Don't let yourself get spread too thin; multitasking is not the most efficient way to work. Try to work on one task at a time.
  • Give up control. While it's important to recognize that you can affect most things in your life, it is equally important to realize when you don't have control—and to be okay with that. Giving up control does not mean you completely give up or stop trying, or become passive—just that you are able to peacefully not be in charge for a little while. Release some of the expectations on yourself. Don't worry so much about what others think of you. Don't be offended or take things personally.
  • Develop healthy habits. Eat nutritious food, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. Include time to relax and mediate; yoga is a great option for de-stressing as well as energizing.
  • Step outside yourself. Serve others! While you may initially be concerned about giving precious time to help others, you might be startled to see how much better you feel when you take your mind off of yourself. Take time to be grateful for what you have.

Learning some tips to de-stress can help you live a longer, happier, and more fulfilling life. Practicing these habits and a positive attitude can go a long way.

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