TWELVE STEPS TO COPE WITH STRESS
by Dr. Robert Matefy, Clinical Psychologist
1. Take good care of yourself. Work as hard on your personal/family life as you do at your work. A happy home life is essential for a stress-free existence.
2. Learn to accept, philosophically, what you cannot change. Don’t waste your time trying to change what you have no control over. Try to accept it and work on changing how you react to the problem.
3. Accept your humanness. It would be terrific never to make a mistake, but that is unrealistic. Strive for progress, not perfection.
4. Give in once in awhile, even if you think you are right. You will be much freer of tension if you do not insist on winning every argument, especially unimportant ones. Pick your battles.
5. Learn to be “self-caring” once in a while. Simplify your life. Say “no” more often and you will be amazed how much stress is alleviated by giving up unrewarding or unimportant activities.
6. Take one step at a time. It is self-defeating to try solving every task or problem at once. Solve problems in small steps and you will not be overwhelmed or procrastinate.
7. Avoid self-medication. This includes alcohol, habitual drug use, and cigarettes. These mask the problem and provide temporary solutions; they do not help solve problems in the long run.
8. Talk out your worries and frustrations. Share with someone you trust and respect. Talking it out releases pent-up feelings.
9. Practice the power of positive thinking. Negative thoughts increase stress. Turning negative thoughts and attitudes into positive ones reduces stress and enhances hope and serenity.
10. Exercise regularly Moderately vigorous physical exercise 30 – 40 minutes at least three times weekly has significant physical and psychological benefits. It burns off stress, releases mood enhancing brain chemicals, relaxes tense muscles, and distracts from worries and problems.
11. Get enough sleep and eat nutritious food 7 to 8 hours of sleep are needed to deal productively with stress, as is a balance diet low in fat, sugar, salt and caffeine.
12. Learn some simple relaxation procedures. There are ways to reduce stress-induced tension through simple relaxation procedures, such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, message, and walking.