How to Handle Stress

How to Reduce Stress

Regardless of how many responsibilities you have, you must take care of yourself. How would anything get done if you got sick or incapacitated and weren’t able to do them? You need to be productive at work and at home while spending quality time with the people you care about.  Here are some suggestions on how to handle stress.

Morning Meditation

Research [1] shows that regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness, improve immune function, and lower stress. 

Many people have asked me “How do you meditate?” 

Designate a particular chair for meditation; train your body to meditate when you sit in a particular place. Then try these steps:

  • set a timer for ten minutes
  • close your eyes and pay attention to your breath
  • notice your legs and back against the chair 
  • when you have thoughts (and you will) tell them “I will talk to you after the timer goes off”
  • breathe

After the timer sounds, take a couple of minutes to write down your thoughts.

Turn Off the News & Watch Less Television

Unless your job depends on it, turn off the news! Researchers [2] found that people who watch less television are more accurate judges of life’s risks and rewards; those who watched more television felt more stress from the daily tales of crime, tragedy, and death.

Self-Care

There was a time in my life when I thought I was too busy to take care of myself; too busy to relax. My body would eventually get its way by getting the flu and making me lie down, immobile, for seven to ten days. Eventually I made a deal with my body. I committed to taking care of it, and in exchange it agreed to not put me out of commission with illness. At least I think it agreed, because since I have been taking care of my body I haven’t gotten the flu.

Self-care means different things to different people. What makes you feel relaxed and rejuvenated? What gives you energy instead of taking it away?

  • Going for a walk in the woods?
  • Working out in the gym?
  • Lying down and watching a comedy?
  • Reading a book?
  • Getting a massage?


If you are a physical touch person (find out what your love language is), then it’s very important for you to receive physical touch on a regular basis. Schedule a massage at least once every three weeks! Trust me – I know! 😉

How to Handle Stress

Pet Your Dog or Cat

Playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol. According to the Harvard Medical School “Get Healthy, Get a Dog“.

Lists and Gratitude

Before bed, meditate for ten minutes, write your to-do list (so you don’t wake up in the middle of the night making lists), and then write down three things you are grateful for. Making a gratitude list trains the brain to look for positive aspects and changes your outlook on life. Here’s the trick … don’t repeat the three things you’re grateful for, choose new ones every day.

Sleep

Are you getting enough sleep? According to the National Sleep Foundation, 
50 to 70 million Americans are affected by lack of sleep. Lack of sleep has been linked to chronic diseases such as depression, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as lower levels of productivity and relationship problems. I know that you won’t want to be around me if I’m sleep-deprived; I get grumpy! 

Most healthy adults require 8 to 8.5 hours of sleep. Try to go to sleep at the same time each night. Getting into this habit will improve your quality of sleep.

References

[1] Shapiro, S. LO., Schwartz, G. E.R., & Santerre, C. (2005). Meditation and positive psychology. In Snyder,C. R., & Lopez, S. J. (Eds.), Handbook of Positive Psychology (pp.632-645). New York: Oxford University Press.

[2] Gerber, G. L., Gross, et al.(1980). The “main-streaming” of America: Violence profile no. 11. Journal of Communication, 30, 10-29. Ascited in Barbara Fredrickson’s Positivity,at 173.