Guidance Associates of Pennsylvania: Managing Stress

Managing Stress

We’ve all heard the expression “A sound mind and a sound body”. All of us at one time or another have described an aspect of our lives as…”good for body and soul”. But with the day-to-day pressures of modern life, we frequently overlook the importance of the relationship between physical and mental health. We forget that there are two sides to the health coin and that physical and mental health are interdependent parts of our overall well being. We try to exercise each day…we watch our diet…we’re constantly trying new shape-up programs…but we often overlook mental health fitness activities. And, we should not, for new research is showing more and more the effects of excessive stress and pressure on circulatory, respiratory and cardiac health. Guidance Associates is urging everyone to remember that good mental health is good for everybody and suggests that we try to spend a few minutes a day on mental health exercises – laugh, relax, share your thoughts with a friend. The following are some ideas to help offset some of the pressures and stress in our everyday lives.

Relaxation
Take three minutes every hour to relax and breathe deeply. Sit and let your eyes become unfocused. Then take a few gentle but deep breaths. Bring all your attention to the sensations in your body as you breathe. Notice that you can relax your entire body still more. Do so. See where you are still tense (probably your neck, shoulders, upper back and face). Relax those areas. All this time continue to breath deeply, gently and slowly. See if you can make each breath slightly longer and easier than the one before.

Affirmations
Before returning your attention to work, while you are still relaxed, use a technique called affirmations to generate energy and a positive mental attitude. These are statements you silently make to yourself about yourself that affirm your positive traits. They are most effective when your mind is relaxed and receptive. Example: “I will return to work clearheaded and interested.” Affirmations must be phrased positively. Don’t say: “When I return to work I won’t be sleepy.”

Recognitions
Know your body’s limits. If you get tired after sitting still for several hours, don’t force yourself to sit there. Move around. Stretch periodically.

Problem-Solving
When problems do arise, ask yourself: “Is there something I can do about this?” “If the answer is yes, ask: Is there something I can do now?” If either answer is no, set it aside to deal with at a specific time later. Then go on to something else. If you don’t set a later time, it will probably remain in your awareness as unfinished business.

Anxiety Control
Don’t waste energy worrying about how much you have to do. Ask yourself: “What is the best thing I can do with my time right now?” The answer is usually quite evident. By minimizing worrying, you save both time and energy.
Suggested Readings:

How Stressed are You? Take a Stress Test

21 Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Workday

Is Your Child Stressed?

Guidelines for Low Stress Living