Effective and Ineffective Ways of Managing Stress
Any Seinfeld fans out there? Do you remember George’s dad and the “serenity now” episode? George’s dad would shout that statement throughout the episode as if that would give him peace and manage any and all stress for him RIGHT NOW. Of course, it didn’t work, and it was pretty funny to watch this man yelling, perhaps begging, for peace, calm, and serenity …. NOW.
The Impact of Stress
Earlier this week someone was asking about quick and simple ways to manage stress – ways that didn’t take too long to work or cost too much. It’s no secret to any of us that daily life can be filled with stress. A day can turn on a dime, and become chaotic, overwhelming, and anything but serene. And it’s not just the big, global events that can turn a day upside down. It’s often the more immediate, local situations – like morning rush-hour traffic, a sick child, or forgetting to buy milk at the store. Both our physical and mental health can be impacted by the big and little stressors of life. In many ways, it’s the daily stressors – those seemingly small events – that get to us in the biggest way. That’s when many of us start feeling a lot like George’s dad, crying out for serenity NOW!
Managing Stress – The Do’s and Don’ts
Because stress affects us physically and mentally, stress management – learning how to effectively cope with and deal with stress – is a very important part of our lives. Here’s a list of a few effective and ineffective ways to manage stress:
Getting some fresh Air
Yoga, bowling, walking
Eating nutritious foods
Drinking a glass of water
Talking to someone about what’s bothering you
Isolating from friends or family
Being a couch potato
Standing at the sink eating cake
Abusing drugs or alcohol
Holding it all in until you’re shouting Serenity Now!
What are your Stress Management Road Blocks?
As you read through these two lists, maybe you can see yourself on one side or the other. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to stress management for many is procrastination. Putting things off – like homework, filing our taxes, or any number of things that we know we should do – can really increase stress and produce unnecessary anxiety. The trick to managing procrastination is often found in breaking down the task into small, measurable, bite-sized pieces. Setting a timer to study for 30 minutes, committing to reading 10 pages of a book, or compiling receipts to do taxes can really help get things started. Taking action helps us feel a sense of accomplishment, which in turn helps us to take further action. For many, the simple act of getting started, overcoming that urge to procrastinate and put things off, can reduce stress significantly.
There’s no denying that stress is part of our busy lives. Managing stress can be challenging – but it can be done. I invite you to take a look at the parts of your life that are causing you to feel stressed out. Ask yourself what you can do differently to begin practicing effective stress management. We may not be able to manage all the stress in our lives, but I think we owe it to ourselves to figure out what we can do and maybe even experience a little serenity now.
Original post date: March, 2017. Revised February, 2019.
Karen Williams, LIMHP is a Mental Health provider at CHI Health.