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I'm Overwhelmed By Stress. How Can I Even Begin To Better Manage It?

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Updated March 19, 2012

I'm Overwhelmed By Stress. How Can I Even Begin To Better Manage It?

Overwhelmed with stress? Here is how to create a stress management plan.

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Question: I'm Overwhelmed By Stress. How Can I Even Begin To Better Manage It?
I experience excessive levels of stress at work and at home, and I have very little time to myself. I feel like I'm stressed all the time. I know I'm not taking care of myself, and I think the stress may be affecting my health. Still, I don't know how to even begin getting it to a manageable level. How do I lead a healthier life?
Answer: Your situation is much more common than you may think. Many people are under great levels of stress, and don't know how to manage it. Additionally, many people respond in ways that increase their stress levels, such as binge eating, smoking, lashing out at others, and drinking to excess, which can create a downward spiral. Any stress management techniques that you try will probably help to some degree, but if you'd like to reduce stress in your life in a significant way, the following plan can help:
  1. The first thing I would recommend is to find some ways to tame tension immediately, so you can stop your ‘fight or flight response’ from being triggered, or you can trigger your ‘relaxation response’ and halt the rush of cortisol and other hormonal changes that come with your body being in constant stress mode. (This article on stress and health can help you to understand how stress works in your body, and how to stop the negative effects of excess stress.) Some quick relaxation techniques include breathing exercises, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, and visualizations. Read this article for more about them and other quick stress relievers.

  2. After finding some coping techniques that can help you in the short term, I’d start looking for ways you can fit more time for yourself into your schedule. You can start clearing your schedule by getting good at saying no, or practicing time management techniques. For more ways to clear your schedule, you can see this article on time management and stress relief for busy people.

  3. With more time, you’ll be able to start a regular stress relief practice that soothes you, and you’ll hopefully be dealing with less stress as well. While there are many stress relievers that work well, the one that works best for you may not be the one that your best friend finds useful. Because it's easier to stick with stress relievers that also match your personality and lifestyle, I recomment that you take the stress reliever personality test, which can give you some great ideas on which stress relief activities would work best for you, as well as strategies for making new habits last.

I know I sent you several resources, and I hope they don’t seem overwhelming, but I think they all prvide an important piece to a good stress relief plan, which can help you to lead a healthier life. This stress management site can also give you other ideas on parental stress, relationship stress, and other stress-inducing areas of your life.
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