If you are not a baby and are not very elderly, chances are high that you need stress management skills to help you to enjoy life more. Too much stress is not good for you and can lead to undesirable and unwanted effects.
You would want to know and actually practice a number of stress management skills to help. Chances are also high that you know a number of great stress management skills except you do not put them into this category and may not consciously practice them on a regular enough basis to keep bad stress at bay.
There are mainly two types of emotional stress, good stress and bad stress. Good stress is stress that assists you with your life. Take for example a student preparing for an exam, good stress will help to keep the student alert, relaxed and excited enough to help with the exam. Bad stress will hinder the student in preparing for the exam, this may lead to the student not being able to sleep properly and the bad cycle begins, sleeping poorly leads to the student not being able to study properly and so the student may not do as well in the exam as initially expected.
This article is mainly concerned about keeping bad stress at bay as it is not possible to keep bad stress away all of the time. One way of explaining this is having a bucket and the bad stress is added and taken away from the bucket over time. The problem arises when the bucket is too full of bad stress.
I am going to talk about four different stress management skills. Each one of these you will be able to do, seconds after you read these here. Of course, you might want to get more detailed information, however there is no excuse from doing any of these four different stress management skills a few minutes from now.
Well, the first is that every night, write down 3 things that you are grateful for. For this one, you might have to wait until bed time tonight. 🙂
In the meantime, consider getting a journal or small notebook to formally write these down. You could, of course, just note them in a pad and not keep them.
The second is that when something stressful is happening, to ask yourself the question “Will this be important in 5 years time?” Quite often, the answer is “No” so say to yourself “Oh, this is not important. Moving on”. You be surprised at how useful this little technique is.
Then the next one, is to go for daily brisk walks. This has a number of benefits and is quite easy to do in most cases.
The last thing is a very quick overview of meditation and a very simple meditation technique that you could be doing a few minutes from now.
Every night, write down 3 things that you are grateful for
This is a great idea and costs you next to nothing to actually do. If you actually record these 3 things every day in a small journal, then you have the added bonus of being able to review the things that you are grateful for over time. At the time of writing this article, I have managed to record these 3 things every day for over 6 weeks, except for 3 days, in a small journal. I find that I do not repeat the things I am thankful for too much. If I miss a day, I just accept it and do not get too excited or annoyed about it, and just continue on as soon as possible after that.
By looking for things to be thankful for, the brain has to think “What am I thankful for?” This process means that the brain at that point in time is focused on finding answers to that question and is less likely to be focusing on something that is troubling you. By doing it shortly before bed time, your mind when drifting off to sleep may still be thankful for these things.
If you cannot think of 3 things to be thankful for, try to think of two things to be thankful for. If you cannot think of 2 things to be thankful for, try to think of one thing to be thankful for. It is the actual searching for these grateful things that helps the brain. By doing this, the brain is not ‘going over and over and over some bad thing’.
By noting the grateful things in a journal helps later on, if you are stressed. You can simply review part of the journal and that helps. It shows you some things that you are grateful for. This may help you to stop ruminating.
Ask yourself “Will this be important in 5 years time?”
If something is annoying you or stressing you out, ask yourself this one question “Will this be important in 5 years time?”
Since I become aware of this as a stress management skill, I find that it helps a lot. I was aware of this technique earlier however once I became consciously aware of it as a stress management technique I find that I have used this on a number of occasions, and guess what, the answer in all of those cases was “No”.
More often than not, the answer is going to be No, and if it is not going to be important, it is not worth stressing out about it now. My attitude is “Not important, moving on”.
If it is important, you may then need to take more actions now to help you with managing it, so that you are doing something positive about it now, and that in itself, should help your stress levels. Just try not to ‘put it on the long finger’ as that may not help long term.
Go for daily walks
Doing some sort of physical activity most days or every day is a stress management technique. If you can do over 30 minutes of brisk walking every day that should help your stress levels, as well as providing you with other health related benefits of brisk walking.
I am fond of walking myself and I walk a lot myself, well because I enjoy it and because of the associated health benefits associated with walking briskly on a daily basis.
Do meditation every day
Meditating every day is a great skill to have to help you manage your stress levels. One of the great things about knowing and having practiced a few different meditation techniques is being able to practice meditation when doing normal everyday activities.
The benefits of meditation are many, and include helping with stress management, lowering blood pressure, decreasing muscle tension and relaxing the nervous system.
A simple meditation technique that you can do right now:
- Sit comfortably
- Breathe naturally
- Follow the sensation associated with breathing in and breathing out
- Let tension out with every out breath
- When your notice your mind wandering and it will, return to your breath
Most smartphones today have a timer function hidden away in all of their functionally, so set a timer for say 2 minutes and do the simple meditation above. Start with 2 minutes initially. If you can do the above a few times every day, you will be very proud of yourself. It is a great stress management skill to have.
I am fond of meditation myself and I practice meditation every day myself, well because I enjoy it and because of the associated health benefits associated with meditation. A while back I knew nothing about meditation, and my brother suggested that I give it a go. I found an online meditation beginners course and I did that online course and from a meditation viewpoint I have not looked back since. I now enjoy meditation every day.
Four Stress Management Skills for you?
To my mind, each one of these can be put into practice almost straight away. Some of these you would already have been aware of however maybe not as a stress management skill. Now you are also aware that they are also stress management skills and so you might use them consciously as stress management skills. That should help with your stress management.
As you might gather, I have picked up some knowledge about stress management, directly from my own life experiences and indirectly from learning from multiple sources. There is a lot of information out there that is poorly put together and can not be applied directly to ones own situation. I do not want to read a 1,000 page book about some stress management technique that can not be applied in my real world almost straight away. I got better things to do with my time.
This article is part of my Stress Management Techniques series of articles. My Stress Management Techniques article outlines over 20 different techniques. If you want to learn about these, you can read them here.