Dan Randall, Managing Life's Stress, River Falls, WI
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Dan Randall

{ Managing Life's Stress }

2013 Stress Management Tips

December 2013, Adopt A Healthy Lifestyle

You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health.

Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. Changing from an inactive lifestyle to an active lifestyle can reduce your risk of pre-mature death by 24%.

Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.

Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary "highs" caffeine and sugar provide often end with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better. Need more energy, make sure you are getting enough B12 and D3 each day.

Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.

Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally. Most family arguments start at night time when you are tired from a long day. Save important discussions for the day-time.

Information provided comes in-part from Helpguide.org.

November 2013, Make Time for Fun and Relaxation

Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come.

Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.

Set aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.

Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress.

Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.

Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.

Information provided comes in-part from Helpguide.org.

October 2013, Acept the Thigs You Can't Change

Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.

Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control— particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.

Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.

Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist. Expressing what you’re going through can help in the emotional release of your stress, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.

Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.

Information provided comes in-part from Helpguide.org.

September 2013, Adapt to the Stressor

If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.

Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.

Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.

Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”

Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.

Adjusting Your Attitude. How you think can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical well-being. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself, your body reacts as if it were in the throes of a tension-filled situation. If you see good things about yourself, you are more likely to feel good; the reverse is also true. Eliminate words such as "always," "never," "should," and "must." These are telltale marks of self-defeating thoughts.

Information provided comes in-part from Helpguide.org.

August 2013, Alter the Situation

If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.

Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same.

Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground. All we have to do is to look at our own government in DC. Lack of compromise has caused huge problems for our nation.

Be more assertive. Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them. If you’ve got a project to get done and you have a chatty roommate or co-worker, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk and stick to that time-frame.

Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under. Often, this is where learning how to say no will help.

Information provided comes in-part from Helpguide.org.

July 2013, Avoid Unnecessary Stress

Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.

Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to reaching those limits. Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress.

Avoid people who stress you out – If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.

Take control of your environment – If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online.

Avoid hot-button topics – If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list. If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.

Pare down your to-do list – Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “should do” and the “must do.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.

June 2013, Unhealthy ways of coping with stress

These coping strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they cause more damage in the long run:

The next few months will cover ways to safely cope with and manage your stress. Information provided comes in-part from www.helpguide.org.

May 2013, A Bottle of Water

A bottle of water – How much does a bottle of water weigh? Six to twelve ounces? Not very much anyway. But if you carry that bottle of water around with you all morning or all day, it can seem a lot heavier than six to twelve ounces. As a matter of fact, it can become pretty uncomfortable. Imagine carrying that bottle around for a week, month or longer. It doesn’t make much sense to do that, does it? It makes sense to put that bottle down and rest, right?

Well, stress works the same way. If we carry our stress for a few hours or even a day, it isn’t so hard to handle, but hang on to your stress for a week, month or longer and it starts to tear down your body. The affects can be extremely harmful. You are changed physically, mentally and emotionally. So it is critical that you learn ways to put your problems down for awhile and let your body repair itself from the damages done by the stress. By doing this, you’ll be able to have time to look for ways to resolve the issues surrounding the problems causing your stress. Please remember that talking out your problems with others is a great first step to solving your problems and reducing your stress.

April 2013, Fresh Start

All around the United States we are now experiencing springtime. Everything is born anew in the spring and it is a great time for you to begin with some new and fresh changes in your life. One change would be to get outside more often and enjoy the clean fresh air and watch the changes taking place around you. See the buds developing on the trees; see the flowers start to come up from the ground; see the birds starting to build their new nests and see the children coming outside after the long winter to play and laugh. These are the sites and sounds of inspiration and can lift up your spirit and help you see things in a better light. These wonderful things will set off a chain of chemical reactions in your body which will help you feel better and more alive. So don’t sit around inside when there is so much to see and do outside.

March 2013, Peacefulness

I just returned from my annual mission trip to Honduras and realized I needed to write my tip of the month. I was trying to figure out what to write about when I thought about how I felt in Honduras with a team of people working at a Children’s Home. The feeling that came to mind was ‘Peaceful”. I can’t express what a wonder feeling that was. It was like a lightness of the heart and clarity of the mind at the same time. In today’s hectic world, these are feelings we don’t often get a chance to experience. My goal now is to try and recreate those feelings now that I’m back home. It won’t be easy but a good start would be to take a few moments each morning and reflect on those things for which we are grateful. When we are grateful, much of our negativity leaves us and good feelings stay with us throughout the day. So give it a try and see if you can create some peacefulness in your life.

February 2013, What Storms are you going through?

I look back on nearly 65 years of my life and see the Storms I have gone through to this point and compare them, if that is possible, to the Storms that others have gone through in just the past few years. I personally know the families of two teenagers who committed suicide in the past two years. We all now know the children and the family of those children who were murdered at school, the theater or the mall. We have all heard, seen or maybe even know some of the seemingly never ending line of military personnel coming home after serving in the Middle East with physical, emotional and mental injuries from what they have seen and done. We have watched the most recent devastation either on TV or even first hand that has occurred on the East Coast and that in Haiti, Japan and other parts of the world where property, pets and human lives have been lost to weather related activity. And we have seen the property and thousands of lives lost in civil wars taking place around the world. We also see people much younger than me finding out they have Cancer, MS, Leukemia, or some other life changing illness. There are also those who are going through divorces or in abusive relationships. I know we can’t really compare our lives and our storms, but looking back, I’ll take my Storms over those suffered by those I’ve mentioned here and I’m sure those of many, many others. But then there are those who would keep their Storm and not take mine

The point is that with all that has been happening and will continue to happen throughout the world, we can still make it through our storms. Each of us has to reach out and be a support person and just maybe, you will be the one who will help another get through their storm. And each of us has to be willing to keep searching for that support we need in our lives so we can keep moving forward. No one said it would be easy but with help from others, it can be done. Don’t wait. Find help now and if you don’t need help right now, then offer your help to others. If you know of someone going through a difficult time, give them a call, stop by to say hello, send them an email or a card. Let them know there are people who care about them. And if you need help to get through your storm today, reach out and ask for help. There are people waiting to help you.

January: Happy New Year!

If you are reading this, you made it through the holidays and are preparing to stay the line with your 2013 New Year’s Resolutions. I hope you keep them simple and few. Maybe you chose the same resolution that you chose last year, the year before that or a totally new one. Whatever you decided, I wish you success.

This month is often a time when the signs of depression are seen. Watch for these signs in yourself and in your family and friends. This is also a time when we want to lay back and just vegetate but in doing so, we get behind and cause even more stress in our lives. So perk up. Get out and get some fresh air to revitalize yourself. Go for a short walk and if you can’t get out, then get up and stretch and bend for a few minutes. Finally, you have given of yourself to others the past couple of months, so now take a day that is just for you and do something you want to do.