Coping techniques: Stress

Please note that you should always consult with your physician before making any changes in your diet, your level of exercise and activity, medication or behaviors related to substance use.

The best way to make use of these techniques is to read through them, select three that stand out to you and practice them. I would be glad to hear from you on your responses.

  1. Use a day planner or other list to keep track of, prioritize and note the accomplishment of your tasks in order to decrease feelings of overwhelm.
  2. Break down problems into smaller steps. Use a diagram to separate out the components of problems into the areas over which you have no control, over which you have some degree of control and over which you have high levels of control. Consider directing your efforts to those areas in which you can have the greatest effectiveness.
  3. Schedule regular relaxation time. While vacations are great you don’t have to wait for your two-weeks off or the holidays. Plan something for this weekend that will let you unwind. Plan something for the evening that you can look forward to at work, whether that’s a hot shower, time with your pet or reading. Take a break while at work—get away from your desk, and outside the building if you can.
  4. If you’re ill, rest.
  5. Incorporate physical activity into your life—working out, aerobics, swimming, yoga.
  6. Practice progressive relaxation. In a comfortable position, clench your toes as tightly as possible, hold the clench, then relax. Clench your feet, hold it, relax. Move up your body—legs, butt, stomach, sides and back, chest, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, face. As you clench, feel what tension is like. As you relax, attend to that.
  7. Practice meditation, such as counting the breaths. Sitting comfortably in loose-fitting clothing let your eyelids lower to soft focus. Draw in a breath, using your belly rather than your chest. Hold it briefly. Let it go. Count “One.” Repeat, to the count of ten. Attend to how your body feels as the breath enters, and as the breath leaves. As other thoughts come into your mind and you notice them, briefly acknowledge them and let them go, returning to the count of one. Give yourself five minutes of setting all other issues aside in order to focus on your breath in this present moment.
  8. Get enough sleep.
  9. Consider decreasing your use of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, junk food.
  10. Consider the source of stress in your life. Can it be addressed and changed so that it’s less stressful? Can you reframe your responses so that you focus on a less stressful interpretation? Is this something that you need in your life?
  11. Because learning to focus and set aside distractions can effectively decrease stress, it can be useful to develop focusing techniques. One of these techniques is called bracketing. To read more on bracketing, please follow this link.