EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT STRESS
· Understand the benefits, dangers, process and effects of stress.
· Identify your major sources of stress, both internal and external.
· Anticipate stressful periods in your life and plan ahead if possible.
· Develop stress management techniques and practice them on a regular basis, even when your are not experiencing noticeable stress.
· Learn to identify the opportunities for learning and personal growth inherent in periods of increased stress.
· Learn to self-monitor on an ongoing basis to recognize your own level of stress and to be aware of when your stress level is comfortable, too low or too high.
DEVELOP A HEALTHY BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE
· Have a good balance in your life in the following areas: family, close personal relationships, social activities, career pursuits, educational/intellectual pursuits, emotional expression, leisure activities, managing finances, physical health activities, self development and introspection, and spiritual development.
· Work on those areas that need healing.
· Be flexible enough to meet the demands of the present while at the same time ensuring that you will restore the balance, if necessary, as soon as possible.
· See your life as a work in progress and continually make efforts to enhance your development in each of the above areas.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS
· Learn the difference between thoughts and feelings.
· Accept your feelings.
· Acknowledge your feelings to yourself and share them with others in appropriate ways.
· Learn to be flexible and adaptable.
· Learn to trust your intuition.
· Develop the ability to understand the other person’s perspective.
DEVELOP EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION AND BEHAVIORAL SKILLS
· Use “I” statements.
· Take responsibility for yourself.
· Make decisions and follow through with positive action.
· Use free time productively.
· Be assertive.
· Manage conflicts openly and directly and work them through to resolution.
· Avoid blaming others.
· Give positive feedback to others.
· Learn to say “no” to yourself and others.
· Practice self-discipline.
· Deal with problems; don’t procrastinate or avoid them.
· Evaluate your values, beliefs, assumptions, and expectations often.
· Keep an open mind and always be willing to learn.
· Be kind and generous to yourself and others.
· Learn relaxation techniques and practice them on a regular basis.
ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN A STRONG SUPPORT NETWORK
· Work on improving your relationships with significant others (family, friends, coworkers).
· Heal hurts from the past, including childhood hurts.
· Learn how to forgive even though you may not be able to forget.
· Ask for help when you need it.
· Be receptive to help when it’s offered.
· Be generous in your offer to help others.
· Continually reassess your needs for support and your satisfaction with the support you presently give and receive.
· Release yourself from those relationships that are dead or damaging to you.
· Actively appreciate those who support you.
TAKE A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH TO PROBLEM-SOLVING
· Take the time to fully explore and define your problem. Move beyond the symptoms.
· Divide your problem into manageable components.
· Gather the knowledge, skills, and resources you need to help you tackle the problem.
· Don’t be afraid to ask others for some perspective.
· Discover why this is a problem for you.
· Review your experience with this problem and see if it’s familiar. Ask yourself if there is a pattern and if it has occurred before in your life.
· Develop and evaluate alternatives to managing/solving the problem.
· Decide on a course of action and proceed.
· Don’t stop until the problem has been managed/solved.
· If the alternative you choose doesn’t work, start back at the beginning and redefine the problem.
· Evaluate your process and learn from every experience.
PLAN AND EXECUTE SUCCESSFUL LIFESTYLE CHANGES
· Approach projects one at a time.
· Believe in yourself.
· Expect to succeed.
· View difficulties as a challenge to become stronger.
· Practice any change for at least one month and then decide whether or not to continue.
· See a psychologist to explore deeper issues, gain insight into yourself or a problem, to get help with the transition, or to resolve major issues.
· Celebrate your successes and yourself.
Shirley Vandersteen, Ph. D., R. Psych.