Experts recommend strategies such as these for dealing with stress in your life:
- Take the stress assessment. This test was originally created by mental health experts to assess the sources and amount of a person's stress. Still in wide use, the test helps identify real situations, ranking them by relative levels of stress.
- Keep a stress log. For two weeks, keep records of each stressful event, with brief notes about what happened; where; how bad it was (you can, for example, use a rating system of 1 to 10); and how you reacted. Elsewhere, keep a time-chart on which you can record — for every waking hour — how happy (also use the 1-to-10 scale), how efficient and how stressed you are. Also note whether you're enjoying yourself.
- Avoid excuses or blaming others. While other people and events can't be controlled, take responsibility. Accept the causes and focus on managing stress — because it will never be completely eliminated. While time pressures may be a major source of stress, and you may be thinking, "When am I going to have time to do this?," consider the exercise an investment of time — for more time later, and your health. Take care of yourself — or you won't be able to take care of everything else.
- Breathe deeply. Simple and automatic as it sounds, breathing — when properly done — can have a dramatic effect on stress management. Yes, there's a "proper" way to breathe — from the diaphragm instead of the chest. When stressed, most people breathe shallowly, stimulating the release of more, rather than fewer, stress hormones. Deep breathing, meanwhile, slows the heart, lowers blood pressure and increases oxygen — and perhaps best of all, distracts and gives you a feeling of self-control. Sit in a chair, inhale slowly with one, long breath, push your abdomen out and breathe out through your nose — slowly. Do it the same time every day; sitting in traffic; or when stressed.