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Strategies for Stress - How To Manage Your Stress

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Updated January 26, 2010

Stress Doesn't Have to Rule Your Life

Reduce Stress with These Strategies

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Is your child stressed about school? Do you stress over IEP team meetings for days before they actually happen? Does your child's homework stress you to the max? Do projects keep you both up late, stressed, and bleary-eyed, as you struggle through every syllable or math operation? Whether you are a parent, teacher, or a student with a disability, you have plenty on your agenda that can stress you out.

You'll find these stress strategies are simple. The hard part, like anything else, is sticking with it.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Less time than it takes you to stress. Really!

Here's How:

  1. Reduce stress with a break. Build break time into your schedule, and stick to it as rigidly as if it were as important as any other thing on your calendar...because it is. Stressing over having no time? No problem. Start small. Take ten minutes in the morning and afternoon as a stress break.
  2. Physical activity is a great stress reducer. Sports and exercise aren't just good for your body. They're also good for your mind. Make time for physical activity each day if you can. At minimum, try it three days a week for an hour. Not the sporty type? You can also reduce stress with less demanding activities such as walking, gardening, and even housekeeping. The key is to find an activity you enjoy that involves movement and is suitable for your state of health. As always, see your doctor before starting a new exercise activity.
  3. Make a lifestyle adjustment. Reduce stress in your life by cutting out habits that are bad for your health. Smoking, drug abuse, excessive drinking, and eating unhealthy foods drain your body physically and psychologically. While some of these bad habits give you a temporary lift of spirits, long-term use can cause serious health problems.
  4. Get rid of unnecessary tasks. Think of how many of your daily tasks are essential for life and how many are important. How many tasks are nice but could fall of your schedule for a couple of weeks before anyone would notice. These are the tasks that can be trimmed. Consider not doing them or doing them with less frequency.
  5. Adjust your expectations. If you find you're so busy and overwhelmed that life isn't fun, it's time to adjust. Are you trying to do too much? If so, reduce your load.
  6. Sure, you say. But how? Learn to say no. One of our smallest words is sometimes one of our most difficult words to say. Try these ideas to help:
    • Use a compliment. "You've got a great group helping with the bake sale. I can't help this time."
    • Show respect. "The PTA has grown under your leadership. I can't hold an office this year."
    • Offer alternatives. "No time for fund raising this year. How about we just donate instead?"
    • Use humor. "I'm no Betty Crocker. You really don't want me to bake anything."
    • Use truth. "I'm over-committed and can't do this for you."
  7. Sleep well. Make getting enough sleep a priority. If you have difficulty falling asleep because of stress, try:
    • Lowering your room temperature by a couple of degrees. A cooler (but not cold) room can help.
    • Reading a familiar book. Familiarity of characters and story line can be relaxing.
    • Praying or meditating.
    • Increasing exercise during the day.
    • Journaling. Keep a notebook beside your bed. When you can't sleep because you're worried about something, write it down with an idea you plan to do the next day to begin resolving the problem. Followup the next day.
  8. Meditate your worries away. Let's face it. Sometimes there are things you want to say that you can't or shouldn't say out loud, but carrying it inside you causes stress to build. Meditation is a good way to work through those things. In a quiet place, relax and visualize yourself speaking about what stresses you. For example, you might see yourself standing up to your boss about the unfair workload. When you're finished, visualize yourself returning to a place of calm and peace.

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