Dealing with stress (Part 1)

It’s common knowledge that this time of year can be very stressful. For some of you, it’s stressful because it’s the end of a semester: final papers are due (or past due) and exams are upon you. For others, it’s stressful because of holidays: insufficient time (or funds) for Christmas shopping and/or travel. And, of course, there’s all the stress that can come from spending time with family! For all these reasons, today’s post is going to focus on an article about dealing with stress that came to me today in a message from LinkedIn that highlighted the “Top 14 Influencer Posts of 2014.” The one I’ve chosen to write about today was written by bestselling author Travis Bradberry and is titled “How Successful People Stay Calm.”

Although he starts the article by talking about the health risks of stress, he moves on quickly to describing what he considers the ten best strategies for dealing with stress. You can read the full array and discussion in his article, but I’ll summarize the first five here and the last five in my next post. As he says, some of them are pretty obvious, but it never hurts to be reminded so that you can think about them when you’re in a stressful situation:

  • Appreciate what you have. Taking time to be grateful actually causes chemical changes in your body that can improve your “mood, energy, and physical well-being.”
  • Avoid asking “what if?” A few years ago I was asked to give the eulogy for a friend, and I started by saying that my philosophy of life is that it’s a waste of time to regret what’s in the past or to worry about the future. It’s good to learn from your mistakes and plan for the future, but that’s different from regret and worry.
  • Stay positive. Those of you who know me know that I try to live by this strategy and encourage it in others. I realize it isn’t always easy, especially when you’re facing big problems or tragic events, but it’s an important goal to work toward.
  • Disconnect. By this, Bradberry means that every now and then you need to take some time for yourself. Turn off your phone. Turn off your computer. Take a walk or read a magazine or go get a cup of coffee. Even a short break from technology can be beneficial.
  • Limit your caffeine intake. According to Bradberry, “caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline” which leads to a “hyperaroused state of stress.” I recently decaffeinated myself, after years of resisting the idea, (I get my limited amount of caffeine from chocolate now ;-), and I have noticed a significant improvement in my stress levels!