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Blog posts : "Stress Management"

"To Do List" or "Ta Da List"

There are many reasons for work-related stress, but the primary reason that most people have work related stress is that they don’t feel appreciated for the work they do.  While we can’t change others into the appreciative, encouraging people we’d like them to be, we can appreciate and encourage ourselves. 

Too often, we get to the end of the day and look at our To Do List with disappointment over the things we failed to cross off the list.  This can be quite discouraging.  Instead, how about making a Ta Da List?  It would include not only the items you did manage to cross off the To Do list, but also some of the other things you need to give yourself credit for.  Sometimes these “non-tasks” get overlooked.  For example, did you treat an annoying coworker with respect, even though you were frustrated?  Ta Da! Good for you!  Did you speak up in a meeting, even though you were feeling hesitant?  Ta Da! Good for you!  Did you keep your cool in a traffic jam?  Ta Da!


True appreciation of yourself includes paying attention to “doing” and “being”. 

At work and in life, are you doing what you need to do?  Appreciate all you do.

At work and in life, are you being who you want to be?  Appreciate who you are.

Doing this for yourself will make you better equipped to handle stress, difficulties and disappointments.


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When You Can't Change It, Change the Way You See It

One type of stress none of us can avoid is Environmental Stress. Environmental stress is the stress that you can do absolutely nothing about. This includes things like the weather, traffic, and getting stuck in the slowest line at the post office.

Since we can do nothing about environmental stressors, an effective way to deal with them is to let go of the hold they have on us and reframe the experience.

One way to do that is to reframe a stressful situation and see it with a perspective of gratitude.  For example, instead of being overwhelmed by piles of laundry, you can say to yourself, “I’m so fortunate to have all these clothes to wear.”  Or when you are stuck in the slowest line at the grocery store, you can look at your cart full of food and remember to be grateful that you can buy what you need.

Other people choose to do practical things to reduce their stress.  For example, try keeping audiobooks in your car to make your slow commute more tolerable.  As you drive you can listen to entertaining or educational materials that you wouldn’t make time for otherwise.  Or you can carry a magazine or book to read when you are encountered with unexpected delays.

By letting go and reframing the experience, you will find that you can take environmental stress in stride.

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Stress: Choosing What to Tackle and What to Release

When facing a stressful time, it can be very helpful to categorize and prioritize the things that are causing your stress.  There are two critical questions to ask yourself when doing this:

In this situation, is it a high priority or a low priority?

Is it easy to change or difficult to change?

When you ask yourself the two questions (high priority or low priority, able to change or difficult to change?) you can determine where it’s best to put your time and energy. 

Not every issue or situation is worth the attention we give it; sometimes we stress over things that really don’t matter, or things we can’t change.  Use these questions to help you decide which problems deserve your attention and which ones don’t, and spend your energy accordingly. 


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Stress and Relationships: How to Navigate the Tough Stuff

Have you ever been guilty of taking your stress out on someone you love? Has someone you live with been able to sense your stress before you get completely through the door at the end of the day?

It’s quite natural for stress from one area of our life to seep into other areas.  When you are feeling stress in other areas of your life and it is affecting your relationships, try doing a “pre-emptive strike.” 

Before your frustration starts to bubble over, have an honest talk with the people closest to you.  Let them know that you’re facing a stressful period.  Reassure them that it is not about them, but about another issue you’re facing.  (Unless, of course, it is about them, but that’s a different message.) The talk may go something like this:

“I’m anticipating a lot of stress over the next two weeks at work.  My boss has asked me to complete a project on a short deadline, and I’m working with a colleague that is difficult for me to get along with.  I may be grumpier than normal, but I want you to know it’s not about you.  I’ll try not to bring my stress home, but you’ll probably see the stress on my face and hear it in my voice.  So I appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.”

Those words in and of themselves can help any relationship navigate through stressful times.  Clarify this, and you will have more peace during your stressful time, because your loved ones will feel like a teammate, not an adversary.  This alone will lighten your load.

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