Should You Be Alarmed About Stress?

3. Make an action plan — Once you know the source of your stress, then brainstorm to manage the problem. How can you deal with the situation differently than ever before? Most people are uncomfortable with making changes. Change can be difficult to initiate and even harder to carry out. An effective way to make successful transformations is to take small steps of change. Think of some small steps that you can take to make changes in your life. Start with one little change and once you become comfortable with that change, then you can move to the next. 

An example of a small change is someone who is shy and wants to become more at ease talking with others. That person may first say ‘hi’ to neighbors, co-workers, etc., then begin to engage in light conversation with perhaps the cashier at the supermarket, and ultimately move on to participating in a club or organization. 

Helpful Tips for Coping With Stress Can Often Be the Most Obvious
It can be helpful for individuals suffering from life’s strains to keep a list of simple coping ideas close at hand for reference. Some of these may sound like common sense. Yet, if common sense was so common, then we wouldn’t find ourselves in the trouble we do. 

  • Set realistic goals and expectations for yourself and your relationships at both home and work 
  • Work as a team at home and at your job. Reach out for support when dealing with difficult problems 
  • Prioritize your work. Ask your supervisor and co-workers to help you organize your work. Break large projects down into smaller parts 
  • Don’t try to do more than you really can. Say no when you need to 
  • Drink lots of water, exercise regularly or take walks. Keep fruit bars, fresh fruits and other healthy snacks in your work area 
  • Take 5-10 minute breathers to the water cooler, window or outside. Take time during the day to stretch and/or do some deep breathing exercises or meditation 
  • Discover ways to relax, like taking warm baths or listening to your favorite music or nature tapes 
  • Work to resolve conflicts. Deal with anger and conflict by taking 30-minute timeouts before responding, and listen with empathy. Try to understand why others feel the way they do • Say to yourself during the day, “I don’t have to be perfect” 
  • Seek help when stress gets out of control. 

Stress and fear are a natural and necessary component of life. Living a stress-free life is not a reality for most people. Hence, we can’t eliminate stress, but we can find ways to balance and use stress to achieve our goals and dreams in life.
Lighthouse Consulting Services of Santa Monica, Calif., was founded by Ellen and Daniel (Dana) Borowka in 1994 to provide programs to help companies increase executive and employee productivity. Ellen Borowka has an undergraduate degree in sociology and a graduate degree in counseling psychology. She can be reached at (310) 453-6556.

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