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Are hard times coming?
Are you facing long term stress?
Here are some tips to help you handle the stress.

By Regina Pickett Garson

Uncertain times bring uncertain stress. As we get older, whatever is wrong with our body seems to get worse. We cannot change the fact we have stress. We can change how we deal with it. Taking care of yourself is important to your productivity level, to your economic stability and to your health. Like a hammer to the carpenter, you are your own most important workday tool.

Without a certain level of stress we would all sit around doing nothing. Stress does keep us going. Are you worried about a layoff: maybe it is time to update the resume. That is realistic. On the other hand, too much stress over too long a time can lead to heart attacks, digestive problems and other ailments. Keeping a good balance is imperative to good health, emotional wellness, and getting through the times ahead.

Good stress management skills will provide some of your toughest armor for dealing with pressures on a day-to-day and long-term basis. Here are some tactics to help you consciously and strategically deal with what you know is going to be long-term stress up ahead.

  1. Organize. Organize and simplify your life. Put things in order. This does not mean every thing has to be tidy. It means you can comfortably and quickly find what you need, when you need it. What will you realistically need for the times ahead? Get organized and get ready.
  2. Prioritize. Prioritize and make lists both at home and work. What needs to be done to get through the coming period of uncertainty? Do you need to update your resume? Are your finances in order? Evaluate and prepare for the worst-case scenario.
  3. Learn conscious relaxation techniques. On a short-term basis, the adrenaline that comes with stress provides a rush of energy, and may be what you need. On a long-term basis, too much adrenaline can build up the negative effects of stress on your mind and body. Learn to be aware of how stress affects you. Does your neck get tight, your stomach hurt, or your head throb? Learn to relax from head to toe. Learning to stay calm helps reduce the harmful effects of excess stress on your mind and body. Any good book store or library will have self-help tapes on relaxation training. If your stress level is already out of control, you may need professional instruction in learning to relax. Your local mental health center can recommend a counselor or maybe a class. With practice, a couple sessions should give you the skills you need.
  4. Exercise. Experts everywhere acknowledge the value of good aerobic exercise in stress reduction and overall well-being. Even if it is only for a few minutes at a time, learn to incorporate physical exercise into your day. Can you walk during lunch or break? Are there stairs in your building? What about stretches and neck rolls as you sit at your desk? How about hitting a quick bucket of golf balls? Is there a health club or a gym nearby? Make grabbing opportunities for exercise a regular part of your routine.
  5. Diet is not just for weight control. In times of stress, it is easy to load up on junk food, then skip a meal and binge the next. The whole process wreaks havoc with your waistline and your health. You slow down, and your disease resistance is compromised when you need it the most. Good nutrition is for good health and productivity.
  6. Get adequate rest. Sometimes easier said than done, on a long-term basis fatigue and stress will impair judgment, and shorten tempers. It will wear you out physically and emotionally. Quiet relaxing moments are essential to your well-being.
  7. Watch the caffeine. It is easy to go on caffeine binges when you have a lot to get done and your adrenalin is high. On a short-term basis, caffeine may help you work a little faster. On a long-term basis, too much caffeine means chemically adding stress to an already stressful situation. You will end up tense, and find it harder to cope realistically at a time when you need your sound logic the most.
  8. Watch the alcohol and drugs. Be aware, stress at work can make alcohol and even prescription drug use enticing. To get through a long-term stress situation, you might consciously cut back on liquor consumption. You will have more energy if you do. However, it may be relaxing to have a drink or two after a hard day; but stay aware to keep all in perspective and moderation most especially if you have a problem with addictions.
  9. Emotional wellness. Attend to your emotional needs. Celebrate accomplishments. Talk about what bothers you. Vent. If you cannot talk to a friend or family member, get a therapist or call a telephone counseling line. There is a free one in most cities. Keeping a journal is one of the oldest forms of therapy, and it is free. Do not take it to work, and do not keep it on your computer's hard drive. Use discretion in discussing workplace issues with coworkers. Attending to your emotional needs does not mean spilling your guts to the world. It means finding a safe place for support and using it when needed.
  10. Be aware of the stress around you and do what you can to help. Your coworkers and family member may feel the stress as well. Take deep relaxing breaths when you feel tempers flaring. Do not take everything personally. Realize that under pressure people often say things they normally would not. Do not let them get to you and do not take it all personal. For the same reason, if there is a little something you can do to lighten the load, now may be the time.
  11. Laugh. Have a good laugh and share it. It will make you all feel good.
  12. Make peace with yourself. In periods of long-term stress, making peace with yourself is not a luxury. It is a necessity. Time honored methods of nourishing body and soul include; prayer, yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and daily devotion. It is one of the best things you can do to maintain your serenity. Make peace with yourself every day.
  13. Practice realistic acceptance. Realize there are some things you will never be able to change. There are other things that with persistence you can change. You will be calmer if you are able to realistically accept, what is unchangeable. Educate yourself about the realities you are facing and do what you can to prepare and take care of yourself, your friends, and your family. When you have done all you can do, remember the Serenity Prayer, but also remember the words that follow below.
"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference."

Other Resources:

Coping With Stress -- Self-help books.
Music For Relaxation
Stress Management Training -- Self-help books.

See Also:

Relaxation Resources
Self Esteem Resources

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Dedicated to all those travelers
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Copyright © 1995 - 2014 Regina Pickett Garson
All writings, graphics and scripts are copyright by the individual authors. Nothing on this site may be reproduced without permission of the individual authors.

No claims are made as to the reliability of any of the information provided or linked, sources often disagree. None of these pages are meant to be a replacement for professional help, but a resource that enables one to be a more intelligent consumer. You can learn a lot by becoming aware of different opinions. Don't be afraid to ask questions when it comes to your health, physical or emotional.

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