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How to Manage Stress

Real Life Suggestions on How to Manage Stress

My personal opinion is that, in life, we just can’t do it all…and be well. If something comes along which we cannot control, something else has to give.

Here are some suggestions on how to get a handle on stress:

1.         Stop. Just stop…and take a breath. Sit down with a pen, paper and your calendar of commitments, and be determined to make a change.

2.         Control the number of activities you and your family are involved in.  Until your kids can drive themselves to their activities, do they really need to belong to two sports teams, take piano lessons and ballet? Many times we feel guilty if we don’t provide them every opportunity to explore their interests, but sacrificing one or two activities in exchange for a parent who feels less stressed is a valuable trade off.

3.         Break it down. Decide what is “your stuff” and what isn’t. We can’t control other people or events ( as much as we wish we could!). All we have control over is ourselves and our actions and re-actions. We can be honest and take responsibility for our feelings and our needs. We also can’t control others’ response to our efforts at change. Communicate as honestly as you can, and stick to the plan which best works for finding balance in your life.

4.         Carve some time into your calendar for everyone in the family to just “be”. This time doesn’t have to happen all together, it can happen differently for everyone. Create some breathing room. The best tonic for keeping our hormones balanced is to get rest; to just “drop out” for an hour, an afternoon, a weekend. Whatever you can manage.

5.         Exercise. Just take a walk. When our bodies and hormones are stressed, it puts stress on our system to try to go to the gym and crank out 100 reps. Walking doesn’t take a lot of energy, but it gets the blood circulating to your cells and your brain and fresh air in your lungs. Plus, after seeing a change of scenery while walking around the block, it is amazing the new perspective we can have upon arriving home. Also, take Fido with you. He picks up on the stress in the household and could use the benefit of exercise too!

6.          Talk to your doctor.  Sometimes we need a little chemical help to endure a prolonged period of sadness or stress.  Having experienced depression myself, I do understand that there is a place for anti-depressants.  It doesn’t mean that you’ve “failed” or you are “too weak to tough it out”.  These thoughts are actually the depression talking.  Use of anti-depressants must be initiated and closely monitored by your physician.  The purpose of an anti-depressant is not a “happy pill” to make your troubles disappear.  Depression is a chemical gap in the communication of cells in your brain.  Medication can bridge this gap to get you back to where you can function in your daily life.  Often times, it is only a very small dose that is required for a specified period of time.  Whatever happens do not take yourself off of your medication early or reduce your dose without your doctor’s supervision.  A depression relapse can be worse than the initial bout.  You and your doctor can determine together when you can start reducing your dose to get off of the medication.

7.           Talk to a counsellor.  If you have an extended health plan at work, often counselling is included in the list of services which are covered by your plan.  Ask your plan administrator at work.  Speaking to a qualified counsellor can be beneficial, if not critical to our recovery from, and ability to manage, stress.