We all have our own ways of handling stress. Some of our vices may be “negative” while others tend to be more constructive. We aren’t here to judge but understand stress can kill you. Last year the Miami Herald reported chronic stress is linked to the sixth leading causes of deaths. In their latest book, From Stressed to Centered – A Practical Guide to a Healthier and Happier You Dana Gionta, Ph.D. and Dan Guerra, Psy.D offer a comprehensive approach, thoughtfully crafted structure, and practical methods that yield long-term results towards handling stress. They provided five beneficial ways you can follow towards handling stress.
- Pause and reflect.These are skills that enable us to stop what we are doing (something most of us find challenging) so that we can 1) reassess a situation 2) reevaluate the intensity and difficulty of a situation and 3) draw on inner resources to calm an otherwise stressful scenario. Learning to “press the pause button” and turn our attention inward in order to reflect can go a long way in handling stress more effectively.
- Assess your stress periodically. It is often quite difficult at times to accurately assess how stressed we truly are. There are reasons for this. A key factor is a phenomenon I call “tolerance to stress” which I observed repeatedly in myself and in hundreds of clients over the years.We have a tendency to habituate to increasing levels of stress, and therefore, to fail to recognize how high the stress level has become, until we begin developing stress-related symptoms. A helpful start is to assess your current level of stress. To help you do this, we offer two free chapters that you may download by visiting: www.fromstressedtocentered.com. One of these chapters includes a self-care inventory that will help you assess whether your current stress level is in the green, yellow or red zone.
- Exercise good judgment.Do you know that not all stress is bad? A medium amount of stress in certain situations like playing sports and while taking a test can be associated with peak performance. Furthermore, some stress comes from uncontrollable external factors (i.e. traffic, deadlines for filing taxes) while others are the source of internal factors (i.e. the way we negatively evaluate a situation, the way we tense our muscles during traffic or while facing confrontation). If you can correctly judge whether the stress you are facing is positive or negative and whether or not it is coming from an external or internal source, you may begin to be better equipped to handle it.
- Create a good self-care program and practice it regularly. Self-care includes three pillars – Exercise, Nutrition and Sleep- however it is important to include other key self-care components: regular relaxation and renewal periods; fun and laughter; regularly enjoying a hobby or passion; and investing in friendships and other relationships that are positive and supportive. Managing our stress is an act of self-care, and healthy levels of self-care act as protection against the negative effects of stress.
- Be Pro-Active. Identify the top two or three stressors in your life. Rate them on a scale of 1-10. Stressors in the range of 6-10 need both yourattention and intentionto take action to better manage this stressor. Determine which stressors are under your control and begin taking incremental steps towards better managing or even eliminating the stressor, if possible.