1. Planning your action – If immediate action is impossible, ask yourself if there is something that you can do about it in the future? Write an action plan with a script and goals. Be sure to put this on paper. Any effort to make the problem manageable is useful stress management. Once you take care of the part you can control, you’ll feel more in control overall.
2. Letting go – If you’ve exhausted your options in the situation, relax and let it go-you’ve done all you can. You can train yourself to tune out stressful thoughts. Remember that obsessing over the outcome of your efforts is a waste of energy. Learn to let things go.
3. Living at ease – Decide if you want to be contented and avoid being constantly on edge. It’s much easier let go of minor disappointments and even major setbacks. It’s about verifying how you want to move on with your life and not place major emphasis on the minors of life. It’s all about not sweating the small stuff. Set goals for yourself, but also hold that vision of yourself approaching life in peace, acceptance, and joy. Don’t major on the minors!
4. Learning when to let go – Every day, you face plenty of stress that you can’t do anything about-from loud noises outside your window to the state of the economy or the coffee spilled on your new shirt. While it’s frustrating to accept that you cannot always call the shots, raging against the inevitable can take its toll on your system-not to mention the people around you. If you find it impossible to go with the flow, look at the evidence and make a pragmatic choice: Ask yourself: “Do I want to keep trying to control things that I can’t control and let it break down my body or ruin my relationships? I going to let go of that and have a healthier, happier body and life?”
5. Keep hope alive – Shaking it off is not always the best option. Often our current situation is so stressful that we can become hopeless. Do what is necessary for you to keep hope alive when you may believe and feel and think otherwise. Pray, rest, get good counsel from trusted advisors-do, in short, whatever it takes to keep a healthy perspective. Many times we need just a good night’s sleep!
6. Take the Long Way home – Don’t race home from work. Stay in the slow lane and unwind a bit. Put some time between your office experience and the rest of your day. Pray, meditate, listen to soothing music, call the kids, whatever it takes to unwind and decompress before you get home.
7. Give yourself 15 minutes off – When you arrive home, the last thing you want to do is to dive into a new set of problems or challenges. Make an arrangement with your family and spouse that the first 15 minutes of you being at home is your downtime. Then, go to your cave, hot tub, garage, or wherever you can throw off your day and unwind.
8. Learn new time management skills – Find the most efficient ways to spend your time on the job and at home. Learning how to better manage your units of work and play time will make it easier for you confine your work problems to the office hours and create a separation between your family and home life from work and business.
9. Set goals for yourself – Understand what you want to accomplish to make your life worthwhile and meaningful to you. Plan your work and work your plan. Be intentional, methodical, and sequential in all that you do. “Fail to plan and plan to fail” as the experts say.
10. Don’t sweat the small stuff-Learn what’s really important in your life and keep other problems in perspective. Is it really worth the time and worry and stress to let an irate boss or an unrealistic deadline infringe on your personal or home life? This isn’t to say you should ignore that those problems-just deal with them at home or at work as appropriate. Don’t make the mistake of carrying over problems into the wrong venues.
11. Take time to relax – Take a deep breath and let go of tension after work. Read a book, watch a funny movie. Go for a quiet walk or choose whatever therapy works for you. Change of focus and you will soon find it stressful problems fade into the background.
12. Watch your diet and exercise – Proper nutrition and regular exercise, coupled with adequate rest, will help you manage your stress better than just about anything else.
13. Get good rest – go to bed early. Get up early. Get started early and you might find that things just run smoother, because you are well rested and no longer running behind and constantly anxious. Your world will be easier if you are well rested and have enough energy to work and cope with your home life at the end of the workday.
14. Identify the causes of stress – Closely identify and evaluate the causes of stress in order to manage your stress more effectively. It’s important to identify those things that are causing stress and find ways to minimize or eliminate them. Identify, access, and then be incremental in the addressing of your stress “triggers”.
15. Identify the negative effects of stress– Just as important as identifying the source of your stress is being able to identify the negative effects of stress on your body and life. Take inventory of how you are feeling. Do you have fatigue insomnia, headaches, back pain, nausea, worry, anxiety, fear, depression, irritability, increased eating, or other symptoms? If so, make note of them. Make a vow to reduce your stress as much as possible.
16. Practice the following anti-stress tips– Try deep breathing in a quiet place where you can close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly for a few minutes at a time. Try breathing in and out for a count of five seconds, and then do it for ten seconds. Start your day with nutritional breakfast. Avoid wearing tight, restrictive clothes and shoes; let your body breathe. Practice simple stretches several times per day. Take your breaks and enjoy them. Walk outside. Read something non-work-related.
17. Have a laugh- Look for the humor in stressful situations. Laughter relaxes muscles, lowers blood pressure, and eases mental tension. Researchers find that laughter can also reduce our levels of hormones and diminish stress responses that suppress immunity.
18. Communicate artfully– Although many people avoid conflicts, it’s better to express your feelings and openly discussing the situation. Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out to others in your environment. Take a few minutes to talk with someone in your workplace or home and to be willing to communicate first.
19. Make realistic plans- Think ahead and adjust your plans and try to avoid triggers of stress such as overbooking your day, too closely booking appointments, and generally maintaining a crazy schedule.
21. Get a miracle massage- Ask a friend or spouse or hire someone. Massage slows down the heart rate and relaxes the body. Massage actually increases alertness and well being. Treat yourself. You may find that you are even relaxed prior to the massage because just the anticipation of getting the massage can be soothing.
22. Count to 10– It’s good to acknowledge your anger. But, cool down before you yell, rant, or rave. Venting your anger impulsively or keeping it inside increases stress and all of the physical symptoms that can lead to illness and early death.
23. Enlist the help of your friends – Friends can be good medicine. Daily conversation, regular social engagements, and occasional sharing of our thoughts and feelings can reduce stress quite nicely. Your friends are there for you, talking to them helps them de-stress too.
24. Accept that nobody’s perfect– Don’t demand absolute perfection of yourself or others. Set realistic and attainable goals. While there are some areas in your life that you’ll always want to keep to high standards, it’s a fact of life that sometimes we miss the mark.
25. Don’t procrastinate -Loose ends whether with family, friends, or at work can cause stress. Make a list of the things you have to do. If the list is too long; prioritize tasks that are most important. See if there’s anything on the list that can be dropped or delegated.
27. Make sure your values are in syncopation with your lifestyle– If your values are out of sync with your lifestyle, you may experience greater internal stress. A firm understanding of your own values-what is most important to you, lets you set priorities and manage time more effectively.
28. Avoid stress- Promoting ways of thought and speech-identify the ways in which you think yourself into higher stress levels, including catastrophic thinking, over generalizing, dichotomous thinking, and perfectionist thinking. Find ways to manage yourself out of these mental ruts.
29. Avoid big changes- whenever possible– Avoid having too many big life changes come in at the same time. In other words, is your daughter getting married at the same time that you planned to sell your house? Are you vying for a big promotion at work while caring for Special Needs child or adult? See if you can apply better scheduling tactics to lessen some of the demands on your time and comfort level. This foresight can save you lots of angst, stress, and anxiety.
30. Work on your marriage, friendships, and spirituality– Studies show that people who are satisfied with their marriages, friendships, and spiritual feelings are better at coping with stress and live more fulfilling lives. Research shows married people have a plethora of mental and emotional benefits including the ability of dealing with stress.
31. Eat three to six small, balanced meals per day- You’re much more volatile to stress when you’re hungry and lethargic than when you’re well-nourished. Take nourishment and be well supplied in mind, body, and soul.
32. Decrease or discontinue the use of alcohol and caffeine- Drinking these substances to relieve stress often works in reverse. Turning to alcohol to reduce stress, actually increases the amount of stress on the system.
33. Use your imagination- The mind’s ability to dream, visualize, and imagine is a very powerful stress reduction tool. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine situations as you want them to be. See the positive outcomes in your mind, athlete’s use this power of imagination to picture themselves doing a routine perfectly before the competition begins. It works for reducing stress and living more pleasantly, too.
34. Learn to simplify your life and prioritize- We cannot do everything at once. Let go of some of the things that you tell yourself you must do. There are some tasks that do not really belong to you and others you need to learn to say “no” to. You can learn to prevent stress rather than just fight it by simplifying your life.
35. Get to know God- Really dig in and get to know what it means to have faith and trust in God and his plan for you. Become more of a God-oriented person and find out what it means to really let go, trust, and live in true mental peace.
Every Day Dad:
The Guide to Becoming a Better Father
By Scott Hammond