Positive Response to Stress
You need to practice positive responses to stress. It may take some time before they feel natural.
Eliminate the minor stress by choosing to avoid some of your known stressors. Does heavy traffic stress you out? Ask someone else to do the driving. Do you get stressed when you have to rush in the morning? Get up half an hour earlier. Do you volunteer for projects and then become stressed with the workload? Drop the projects that you don't love!
Take a five-minute break when you are feeling overwhelmed. You always found time for a smoke break. Now you need to find time for a mental health break. Take a quick walk around the building, find a quiet spot and close your eyes, or do a few stretches. Exercise is an excellent way to reduce anxiety. You will be in a better frame of mind and be able to make a more rational decision after your five-minute mental health break.
Practice your deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing is an excellent way to increase oxygen levels and decrease tension. Deep breathing also mimics inhalation and helps reduce the urge to smoke.
Five minutes of quiet visualization can do wonders. Close your eyes and picture yourself in a peaceful relaxing place. It takes some practice to clear your mind and block out distractions.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Sometimes we don't even realize how tense we have become. Progressive muscle relaxation is great if you are feeling wound tight and can't seem to relax. Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down. Begin at the top of your head. Tighten all the muscles in your head, face and neck. Squeeze tight. Now relax. Notice how much lighter they feel. Now tighten the muscles in your shoulders and arms. Squeeze tight. Now relax them. Continue on down the body until you have tightened and relaxed all the muscles from your head to your toes.
A negative attitude will add to your stress. Think of each stressful situation as a challenge. How can you deal with it in a positive way? Are you overreacting? Is there more than one way to look at this situation? Things are very seldom black or white, right or wrong. There are usually shades of gray.
- It may have rained on your picnic but the food was still great.
- You may have blown that interview but you learned what not to do next time.
- You may have slipped up and had a cigarette but now you know one situation that is going to be tough for you. What can you do to get past it next time?