It’s no secret that we live in a high stress world.  Stress is not going to go away, but it can become more manageable.  Many people come into counseling with the goal of working on stress management.  They know that stress is a problem in their lives, but they do not fully understand how or why stress affects them.  When thinking about ways to manage your stress, consider the type of management you need.

For example, do you need to manage your reactions, your time, your habits, or your relationships?

Managing your Reactions:

Think about how you react to changes and stressful events.  Do you get anxious and upset? Do you tend to have a lot of negative thoughts, such as thoughts about how this event will negatively affect your future?  Do you have muscle tension and aches when you experience stress?  We can’t control everything that happens, but learning to manage our reactions to stress can improve overall health and wellbeing.

Managing your Time:

Sometimes simply making small changes to schedules can improve one’s sense of control and peace.  Other items, larger changes need to be made.  People are often overscheduled and overcommitted. Managing time may involve looking closely at your schedule and deciding what needs to be cut out.  Furthermore, when people are overscheduled, sleep is often the first thing that is sacrificed.  Not getting enough sleep can increase irritability and feelings of stress.

Managing your Habits:

Behavior has a major influence on mood and health.  Not getting enough sleep, unhealthy eating, and not exercising are just a few of the habits that can lead to increased stress.  Employees who spend their lunch breaks working or surfing the web often feel more tension throughout the day than employees who take a brisk walk or go out to lunch with a friend.  Think about your daily activities.  What are all the small things you do that lead to increased stress?  What do you do that helps decrease your stress?

Managing your Relationships:

Think about all of your relationships and how they affect your mood.  Not having enough social support makes people more vulnerable to experiencing anxiety and depression.  Having close relationships that are high in conflict or emotionally draining also leads to feelings of stress.  Managing your relationships may involve developing new relationships, creating boundaries in existing relationships, and managing your emotional reactions to other people’s behavior.