Stress is a natural part of life. It is simply our body’s way of responding to any type of demand and it is required for growth to occur. When I experience healthy stress, I am motivated to complete projects and get things done. On the other hand, when I experience unhealthy stress, I having trouble sleeping and I am easily agitated. Unhealthy stress is associated with a myriad of mental and physical health problems. Therefore, it is helpful to have a stress management plan in order to bring your life into balance.
Your stress management plan should include the following:
- A list of your triggers. What are the things that stress you out? It can be any number of things like workload, lack of time, finances, health, family members, people at work or watching the news. It is important to know your triggers. Make a list of anything that triggers your stress.
- Your responses to stress. It is important to know how you respond to stress. When you are stressed, what symptoms do you experience? Some responses to stress include headaches, excess anxiety, reduced work efficiency, high blood pressure, poor memory, depression, irritable mood, digestive problems, constant fatigue, weight gain and negative thinking. Make a list of your responses to stress.
- A list of what you can and cannot control. Make a list of everything that is bothering you. Then read over the list. Circle the things that you CAN control. If you can’t control it, cross it off of your list. You don’t want to waste time focusing on what you can’t control. For example, if you can’t change the fact that you have to attend a mandatory meeting, focus on making sure that you are prepared for that meeting, rather than complaining about having to attend it.
- Realistic thoughts that replace unrealistic thoughts. Once you have identified the problems that you can control, you can focus on your thoughts related to those problems. When we are stressed, we can get caught up in unrealistic thoughts that stress us out more. You eat a spoonful of ice cream while on a diet and tell yourself, “I’ve blown my diet completely.” Eating a spoonful of ice cream while on a diet DOES NOT mean that you’ve blown your diet. Make a list of your thoughts that simply aren’t true and change them so that they are realistic.
- A list of self-care activities. It is important to have a list of self-care activities that can relax the mind and body. The list can include things like exercise, meditation, dancing, napping, yoga, eating well-balanced meals, deep breathing, listening to relaxation CDs and prayer. There are many apps that support self-care including Stress Tracker, GPS for the Soul, Breathe2Relax and InsightTimer.
If you fail to plan you plan to fail. Use these tips to develop your stress management plan. It is important to make your physical and mental health a priority in your life. Share your story by leaving a reply at the bottom of this post. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.