Shirley Babior, LCSW, serves out of San Diego, CA, provides online therapy to surrounding communities
Everyone encounters stress during their lives at one point—never-ending bills, demanding schedules, work, and family responsibilities—and that can make stress seem inescapable and uncontrollable. Stress management skills are designed to help a person take control of their lifestyle, thoughts, and emotions and teach them healthy ways to cope with their problems.
Find the Cause
The first step in stress management is identifying your stressors. While this sounds fairly easy—it’s not hard to point to major changes or a lot of work piling up—chronic stress can be complicated, and most people don’t realize how their habits contribute to their stress. Maybe work piling up isn’t from the actual demands of your job, but more so from your procrastination. You have to claim responsibility for the role you play in creating your stress or you won’t be able to control it.
Strategies for Stress Management
Once you’ve found what causes your stress, focus on what you can control. Eliminate the realistic stressors and develop consistent de-stressing habits. Instead of watching TV or responding to texts in bed after work - take a walk, or read a book. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough quality sleep, will ease feelings of stress and help you relax.
Also, make a conscious effort to set aside time for yourself and for relaxation. Alone time can be whatever you need it to be. Some people like doing activities such as tai chi, yoga, or meditation, but you can also treat yourself to something simple, like taking a bubble bath, listening to music, or watching a funny movie.
Finally, don’t feel like you have to solve your stress on your own. Reach out to your family and friends. Whether you need help with a problem or just need someone to listen, find a person who will be there to positively reinforce and support you. If stress becomes chronic, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a therapist.