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Stress, Part 3: Reducing Stress

So you are stressed out, and you know it.

Now what can you do about it?

There are three ways to reduce stress:

1.) Remove any stressors you can

2.) Change your thoughts about those things you can’t get rid of

3.) Develop positive coping mechanisms


1. What can you change? Take an inventory of what would need to change in order to reduce your stress. Would getting on a budget reduce your financial stress? Maybe talking to your boss about changing your hours? Or moving closer to work so less time is spent on the road? You get the idea.

Many times brainstorming with someone else who isn’t close to the situation can help you come up with innovative ideas. Clearly, some changes will be more difficult to make (changing careers, cutting unhealthy people out of your life, etc.), and those should be done only with careful consideration, and if possible, a healthy outside perspective.


2. Changing your thoughts means that you look at things from a different perspective. Obviously, some things in life just stink, but there is usually some room for improvement in our attitudes about things. Is it possible for you to look at what you might be learning through the situation? Is it causing you to grow in your patience or knowledge? Is it preparation for a better situation? Do you need to step back from the situation and realize there is only so much you can do to help out?

There are probably as many cognitive changes you can try as there are situations that you might find yourself in. This can be the hardest of the three stress reduction strategies, and it can be very helpful to get some support when making the changes. And I think it is worth saying, some days will be easier to apply this concept than others.


3. When you are finding coping mechanisms that fit your personality and lifestyle, try different ones multiple times. A few ideas to try are listed here, but keep in mind this is just a sample of the many things you can do.

  • Meditation. Meditation focuses on the interaction between the mind, body, brain, and behavior. Although there are different types of meditation, almost all have a comfortable position and focused attention on a word, phrase, or scripture in common. Meditation has been shown in some studies to decrease blood pressure and address different illnesses. One study showed a company that introduced meditation into their daily work routines decreased injuries by 70%, and absenteeism by 85%.

  • Massage and Other Healthy Touch. In their May 2015 journal, Psychology Today explains that increased touch decreases cardiovascular stress, decreases blood pressure and heart rate, and boosts the immune system. Interestingly, one study showed that NBA teams whose players touched more, won more. The benefits of touch could easily fill this page. Massages, hugs, touches on the arm, a pat on the back, or even just a warm handshake can have numerous physical and psychological benefits.

  • Good Sleep Hygiene. Good sleep hygiene includes healthy sleep habits and routines. A few suggestions include turning off all electronics 30 minutes before bedtime, stopping caffeine and alcohol intake by 3 p.m., avoiding nicotine, and going to bed and getting up within an hour of the same time each day.

Stress reduction is important. If your company would like to explore the areas in your work environment that could be causing stress and design a plan to reduce the stress, please contact us at Nikki Penn Counseling & Consulting.

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