How Can You Reduce Stress?

Because each person is unique, some of these stress management strategies will be more helpful for you than others, and some will be new skills that require practice to be effective. Think about learning to ride a bicycle. There was a time when this was a new skill and felt very unnatural and awkward. You probably needed help at first. With some coaching and practice, stress management, like cycling or any other skill, becomes easier and more effective.

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The Six R's of Stress Management

  1. Responsibility
    • Accept that there are things that you cannot control or change. There are many circumstances in life beyond your control (the weather and the behavior of others being just two examples). On the other hand, learn that you can control your actions, reactions, and who you choose to be around.
    • Be assertive, instead of aggressive. Express your feelings, be direct and honest and consider cooperation or compromise rather than confrontation.
    • Manage your time (See Time Management web page for more information) and establish priorities.
    • Learn to say “no” and delegate some of your work load to avoid having too much on your plate. Allow room in your schedule for unanticipated events.
    • Avoid perfectionism and overachiever mentality. This only sets you up for impossible standards. Recognize your limits and allow yourself to be less than perfect. Remember you are only human and people will like you more if you admit to some weaknesses.
  2. Reflection
    • Know your stress triggers (situations that lead to stress).
    • Be aware of physical, behavioral, cognitive, and emotional stress symptoms.
    • Recognize and set limits to maintain a healthy balance of work and fun.
  3. Relaxation
    • Learn to relax with relaxation techniques (See Relaxation techniques below), Yoga or Pilates.
    • Take a mental vacation by visualizing yourself in a relaxing place.
    • Rather than worrying all the time, schedule  “worry time" or journal about concerns.
    • Take a time out or mental break when you begin to feel overwhelmed.
  4. Relationships
    • Connect with others. Get involved in a campus group or activity.
    • Maintain supportive relationships.
    • Strive to manage and improve your relationships.
    • Talk it out. Share your feelings with a trusted friend, family member, mentor or counselor.
  5. Refueling
    • Eat a well balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies, high fiber and low cholesterol.
    • Drink lots of water.
    • Get enough sleep (7-8 hours).
    • Exercise regularly. Try to find a physical activity you enjoy and make regular time for it to burn off adrenaline.
  6. Recreation
    • Maintain your sense of humor, including the ability to laugh at yourself. Give yourself a break by reading or watching something humorous.
    • Enjoy your life and treat others the way you want to be treated.
    • Schedule time for fun/hobbies.
    • And most importantly….Keep a positive attitude!! Focus on noticing the positive moments throughout your day. These moments may seem like small events, but they can often raise your energy and spirits and help you begin to see things in a new, more balanced way. You can also start a gratitude journal to help you focus on the daily positives in your life.