I know the feeling of stress all too well. We all know that stress greatly impacts our pain and fatigue levels, but we also know that there are so many sources of stress in life that there’s no way to completely avoid it. It also builds up over time unless we figure out how to release it. Dealing with it is another story and how I do so depends on the type of stress.
What’s the best way to deal with stress? The question above came from one of my readers. She’s right, avoidance isn’t always the answer. But, there are some good ways to deal with stress. Below I share 8 tips for dealing with stress. There are others, but these are the ones that come to my mind easily.
1 . Avoid it
Whenever possible, avoiding the source of stress is the best and easiest answer. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. There are some sources of stress that I can avoid though.
I know that large crowds are likely to trigger my symptoms, especially if I’m already low on energy. I can avoid certain people that I know will leave me feeling drained. I can also avoid some stress simply by scheduling myself properly. During my last semester of college, I made a huge mistake by signing up for an evening class. The time combined with the class itself was a huge source of stress for me -one that I could have avoided.
2 . Set Realistic Expectations
When I can’t avoid stress I try to set realistic expectations. This applies to setting realistic expectations of both situations and of myself. I need to look first at what I have to do. Once I’ve scheduled that into my day in an appropriate way I can then look at adding room for optional activities.If I don't set realistic expectations for myself, no one else will. 8 tips for dealing with stress. Click To Tweet
3 . Set Boundaries
People are often a major source of stress, and sometimes we just can’t avoid them, but we can set proper boundaries so that they don’t suck the life out of us. If you have people in your life that wear you out but you can’t avoid them, maintain strong boundaries. This will help you get through your time with them. Being careful what you share with them, and how you interact with them, allows you to control the situation.Setting strong boundaries can greatly reduce stress. 8 Tips for dealing with stress. Click To Tweet
4 . Set Time Limits
When you must spend time with energy vampires make sure you limit the time spent, as much as possible. Let them know up front that you have to leave at X time. Time limits should also apply to everything you do. Sometimes we end up worn out and psychologically stressed because we simply stayed too long or continued doing something for too long. Use alarms on your phone if you need to to remind yourself to stop working and take a break, or to get up and stretch.
5 . Breathe
Make sure that you are taking time to breathe. At one time, I had an app on my phone that would sound a small chime and remind me to just breathe. The simple act of taking 30 seconds to focus on nothing but breathing can greatly reduce stress. It clears the mind and makes it easier to deal with the stressors that surround us (be they people or situations).Breathing is the best way to reduce stress. 8 Tips for dealing with stress Click To Tweet
6 . Exercise
Whether it’s yoga, Tai chi, water aerobics, or just taking a walk. Find some way to exercise. I find that yoga and Tai Chi are excellent for helping clear the mind and reduce stress. They are active enough that it’s difficult to think about anything else except focusing on the movement/ pose, but gentle enough that they don’t flare up chronic pain.
Group fitness classes can also work because they tend to keep you moving, but I find that sometimes exercising in a group adds stress because I end up feeling self-conscious about my inability to do moves or feel pressured to keep up. Both yoga and tai chi have been shown to actually help reduce not only stress but chronic pain when used regularly.Sometimes the best way to deal with stress is to burn it off with a little exercise. 8 tips for dealing with stress. Click To Tweet
7 . Rethink your thoughts
Often, my thoughts are the source of my stress. I’ll think I know what someone else is thinking or meaning by their words and it will create stress. What I’ve learned is that many times what I think that person means or is saying is wrong. I am putting ill intentions on them that aren’t there. Instead, I’ve learned to focus on positive intentions and assume that people have good intentions. Sometimes it’s really hard to think what those might be and sometimes the best thing you can do is ask the person if that’s what they intended. By allowing for the best possible outcome, I avoid creating unnecessary stress.
8 . Listen to Music
I find music to be a great motivating force in my life. I have playlists for everything, but the one I use the most is what I call my “Happy Happy” list. Every song on it is one that makes me feel good, some make me smile, some even make me laugh (especially when I sing along). Sometimes the best thing you can do is turn the radio up as loud as it will go and scream along with the music. It can really help discharge stress.Music can be a great stress reliever. What are your favorite songs to de-stress? Click To Tweet
If sex is an option, it can be the best stress reliever there is. Unfortunately, when chronic pain is in the picture, sex may not be an option.
So, what is your greatest source of mental stress? What tips do you have for dealing with stress?
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