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Building YOUR Bounce: 4 Tips for Stress Management

by Michelle Herrigel, Psy.D., Clinical Director at Devereux

When we are stressed, we often feel as if we are out-of-control of our lives– finances, family, work, and our environment. This can leave us feeling paralyzed and helpless to change things.  When we feel helpless, we feel stressed.  Here are some useful tips and tricks to identify and manage your stress.

Keep a healthy balance – Without a healthy balance of work/play, relationships/alone time, excitement/relaxation, you can begin to feel that old familiar feeling of increased anxiety and stress. It is important to plan time to have a variety of activities and to be sure to allow enough time to sleep, eat well, and take care of yourself. Many people underestimate the important of sleep, diet, and exercise.  These factors are essential to your physical and mental health.

Know your sources of stress and frustration – It can be tricky enough to manage stressors we know about, but many people do not fully realize what their sources of stress are.  One of the keys to stress management is to take stock in your situation. This will allow you to effectively identify and label your stressors. A few key points:
* Sources of stress are not always apparent.
* Sources of stress are not always negative.
* Sources of stress are sometimes – well, YOU.

Keeping track of times that you feel more stressed can help you identify sources of stress.  A journal or chart can be helpful in documenting times your feel stressed. When you look at these events objectively, you might begin to see a pattern. Or, you might see some things that surprise you.

Identify the  unhealthy ways you currently cope with stress –  Learning more about your own style of stress management can help you develop healthy habits. Many of us use unhealthy coping strategies.  These ways of coping can help decrease stress temporarily, but will cause lasting long-term problems. These include:
*Smoking, drinking or using drugs to relax.
*Overeating or not eating when stressed.
*Spending all of your time alone.
*Sleeping too much.
*Taking your problems out on those around you.

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Choose some healthier ways to manage your stress – It is important to remember that there are as many ways to handle stress as there are people, and no two are alike. You have to find the stress management strategies that best fit your personality, lifestyle and interests. For example, some people find yoga and meditation relaxing and use this an effective tool to manage stress. For some, the thought of sitting on a mat is torture; they may prefer to be active and use exercise to relieve stress. The best plan is to try a variety of different techniques to see which ones fit you best. Once you find your preferences, be sure to make time for them on a regular basis.

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