6 Stress Management Tips
~ by Carl Towns
“Sometimes when people are under stress,
They hate to think, and it’s the time
When they most need to think.”
– William J. Clinton (yes, Bill)
It used to be that a stressful situation for me consisted solely of where the next bottle would come from. That’s going back a few years now. Everything else just didn’t matter to my addicted brain. Just that next bottle. If there were other stress points in my life at that time, the bottle took care of them, no problem.
Note: This is definitely not the first stress management tip for a healthier life. You don’t have to be a medical professional or stress counselor to figure that one out.
However, the months I spent in rehab, the therapy, the in-depth sessions with a psychologist, and our group meetings, taught me a lot about what to expect living as a sober individual, and what it was going to take to stay that way.
And, as you can imagine, one of the most dangerous triggers to a potential relapse? Stress. Good old stress. Be it a family crisis or a utility bill you don’t have the money for, stress for a recovering addict can be as risky as standing blindfold on a cliff’s edge, with no idea which way you’re facing.
So, it’s that guidance, that information, I wish to share with you. What follows are (definitely) 6 stress management tips for a healthier life. They work too. Take it from me. I’m now 5 years living my life as a sober person, dealing with everything sober. No running away from stress anymore or the other emotional stuff alcohol hid me from.
And you can relax. You don’t have to be a recovering addict for them to work for you. No history of waking up in the occasional dumpster, no facial bruising you can’t remember getting, nothing like that. Just good advice from one who knows the danger of not dealing with any stress points in your life. Let’s get started.
Looking after yourself, both physically and mentally, is vital, not just for a healthier life in general, but also for being in the best position possible for coping with, and dealing with, the inevitable stresses that come with modern living.
Today’s world of smartphones and everything else technology has to offer was supposed to mean our lives became easier. Whether that’s the truth or not is somewhat debatable, don’t you think?
Relaxing your body and mind is one of the most important aspects of stress management.
Exercise, which existed long before smartphones, is the key to achieving this. A regular workout as part of your natural routine will improve your general mood, all those healthy chemicals being released into your system. Happier people deal with stress much more effectively.
So how much should you be exercising? Let’s look at a typical week:
- Good: 30-minute sessions, 3 to 5 times
- Very Good: Reasonably intense activities, such as quick walking, for around 2-3 hours, and
- Excellent: The addition of another hour of seriously intense activity, such as jogging or swimming.
What you eat has an incredible influence on both your physical and mental health.
As one of my rehab therapists used to say, “Eat crap, feel crap.” She had a point. Her professional advice? Eating a well-balanced, regular diet will influence your mood, and your general health, so do it. Called her Mrs. Nike.
Skipping a meal will affect your mood too, making you more likely to become stressed.
This well-balanced diet should consist of predominantly:
Mental stress = Physical tension. In other words, your muscles will literally tense up. Therefore, try one of the following as a way of loosening that tension:
- Muscle group stretches
- Deep breathing
- Hot bath/shower
- Grab a massage (somewhat of a treat, but sheer heaven…), or
- Simply getting a really good night’s sleep
Talk About It
Just the mere action of articulating what is stressing you out will help you logically think about the stress point itself.
And there are plenty of people there to listen, such as family, friends, your doctor, even a therapist, if that’s what works for you.
Hint: It works for me – I still have regular therapy (group and one-to-one) sessions as part of my addiction recovery.
Talking to yourself is also a good idea (but try to avoid doing this in crowded public spaces, if you know what I mean). “Self-talk” is another way of rationalizing any stressful situation. Remember, both of these need to be done in a positive way, with positive thoughts.
Stress Trigger Elimination
One of my favorites. If there is something that is the root of consistent stress, kick it to the curb (another of Mrs. Nike’s sayings).
In other words, if your job is causing untold stress, re-think your career options; if just traveling to your place of work is giving you stress, day in, day out, look for a better, healthier way to commute; if your studies are becoming too consuming, too hard, speak to your lecturer.
You could also keep a stress journal if stress is becoming intolerable in your life. It will help you discover the reasons for why you get stressed when you do, thus providing you with a pattern of when it occurs. This will identify the predominant cause, one you can change. Remember, nothing will change unless you make changes. So make them positive ones. Put yourself in control.
Love this phrase – chillax. Definition? To calm down and relax. Basically, this is all about managing your time effectively, and so giving yourself time to do the things you wish to do, such as hobbies, listening to music with your feet up, or having a night out with friends. Just as long as you chillax.
Importantly, be sure to do it in a healthy manner, in my case, I dealt with it through alcohol, and it led me to a place where I wasn’t relaxing.
Slowing down is also another way to chillax. Today’s world is a fast-moving one, and the temptation is to try and keep speed with it. So set your own pace. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that.
And, lastly, chillax when you need to. Taking a well-deserved break, and giving yourself a little down-time, resets your clock, as it were.
Remove The Blindfold…
So, there you have them: 6 Stress management tips for a healthier life. By incorporating all of these into your daily routine, not only will you be less susceptible to stress itself, you’re also better placed to cope and deal with it when it does come along. Being conscious of exercise, diet, muscle relaxation, talking about it, stress trigger elimination, and the need to chillax, will lead to a life less stressful, for sure.
Has this covered all the bases? Perhaps, there is a stress management tip that you’d like to share? If so, please feel free to leave a comment below and share with other readers.
One phrase that I wrote above is the key to it all, really. Put yourself in control. Take it from one who knows the potential dangers of not dealing with life’s stresses. In other words, never even get close to the cliff’s edge in the first place. As for the blindfold, just don’t wear one.