8 Ways You Can Manage Stress Right Now

It's not enough to know your causes of stress. It's time to figure out how to live with (or without) them.

October 7, 2016
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If you know what stress is and where you are right now in terms of coping with it, we need to start talking about what you can do to manage it.

More: 18 Most Common Causes of Stress

All your new information won't be useful if it doesn't lead to action. The following list gives you specific ideas to manage stress effectively, with detailed tips and exercises to accompany some of the ideas.

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Identify

Many of us simply go from one day to the next knowing we are stressed out, but not really ever taking time to specifically identify what the sources of stress are for us personally. You may have recognized some of your stressors, but take time to sit down and write the most complete list you can of everything that you perceive as stress in your life. Your list should include obvious things like a job loss and less clear things that are a source of strain, like that stack of paperwork on the kitchen table.

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Examine

Honestly examine your daily routine. Ask yourself if you are doing all you can in terms of lifestyle habits that greatly influence your stress load. Eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly have an enormous impact on your ability to cope with stress, and having exceptionally poor habits in any of these areas can be a stressor in itself. Be sure to check in with yourself to see if measures to improve these basic areas could make a difference.

More: 17 Positive Habits That Will Change Your Life

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Eliminate

Evaluate sources of stress that can simply be removed from your life. We are not able to control everything we may face, but there are some things that are within our control. Where it is possible for you, eliminate sources of stress without guilt or shame.

This might mean, for instance, saying no to interactions with "energy robbers." "Energy robbers" is the name coined by James L. Wilson, ND, DC, PhD, author of Adrenal Fatigue, to describe people, conditions, and even foods that drain us. Another example might be that you stop connecting on a particular social media platform. An honest look at what can be completely taken off your plate is a huge stride forward in managing your stress. 

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Prioritize

An immense stressor for many of us is being overwhelmed. With so many items on the daily to-do list, it is inevitable that we find ourselves paralyzed on where to direct our attention. It can be helpful to assess where these items fall in terms of importance and proactively prioritize in order to accomplish them.

The mantra here is, "Manage your to-do list, don't let it manage you."

More: 9 Morning Exercises to Start the Day Stress Free

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Practice

It is great to find ways of eliminating stress, but we must also add healthy stress-reducing activities into our lives. Carving out time to pursue fun and relaxing activities that help counterbalance the stress that cannot be eliminated is vital. You can start by practicing mindfulness, doing stress-busting yoga, or going on a mindful walk

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Reframe

Some stressors, despite how large they may be, can be greatly diminished when we reframe our internal thoughts around them. Analyzing how we think, feel, and talk to ourselves about a source of stress can be a powerful tool, especially if we take it a step further and challenge those thoughts with a new dialogue.

For example, the author Malcolm Gladwell, in his book David and Goliath, encourages readers to recognize some obstacles in life as "desirable difficulties," a term used to describe unfavorable situations that result in advantages for the person facing them. Learning to see things in a different light can be a profound stress-management tool. See resilienceacademy.com for practical guidance on how to reframe.

More: 4 Exercises for Sharpening Your Awareness of Nature

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Accept

There are occasions when the most positive step you can take in addressing a source of stress is learning to accept it. This can be a very uncomfortable process, but sometimes plainly acknowledging the reality of a stressor that you cannot change, like a troublesome family situation or illness, and letting go is the only way forward. In these cases, it can be meaningful to regularly check in with yourself about what valuable lessons you may be gaining by learning to live with the stressor.

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Alter

The most radical idea is saved for last. You may find that some stress cannot be managed with any of the other ideas presented here and that continuing to tolerate it is also not an option. If that is the case, it is time to alter your situation, even if the change itself will present stress.

Perhaps your job has become absolutely unbearable or you are very unhappy where you live. Maybe a relationship has grown toxic. With these kinds of stressors, considering a major lifestyle change is in order. Start to carefully plan how to make necessary adjustments in the least-disruptive and most timely way possible, while leaning on your support network through the change.

Adapted from The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook

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