A woman talks on the phone, rubbing her temple and feeling stressed

Reduce, Prevent and Cope With Stress

It seems everyone is talking about stress these days. Economists posit theories about who experiences stress and why. Psychologists illuminate the devastating effect stress has on our metal health. Doctors warn of the health consequences of excess stress, including high blood pressure, suppressed immune system, and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

OpenSesame offers a number of courses designed to help you effectively cope with stress (like Workplace Stress Management, Stress Management: A Rapid Skill Builder Course, and Stress Management- Handling Stress, to name a few). Here are a few tips we’ve gleaned from them about how you can prevent stress from eroding your health, and start reclaiming control of your life.

  • Step 1: Identify – In order to successfully manage your stress, you must first identify the source. Where does your stress come from? Who or what creates stressful situations in your life? While self-evaluating and discovering what creates stressful situations in your life, be sure not to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
  • Step 2: Understand – Once you have determined your stress triggers, the next step is to articulate how you felt in the stressful situation – both physically and emotionally. Did you clench your fists? Did your heart begin to race? What were some thoughts you had? Did you feel angry, sad, scared? Understanding how you react to a stressful situation can help you analyze your reaction, and determine which activities will be most helpful for stress relief.
  • Step 3: Analyze – Now that you have a better understanding of your emotional and physical reactions to stress, you’ll want to analyze your reaction to the situation. Did you write your response off as a minor incident (“It’s OK, I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took some time for yourself? Do you think of stress as a normal part of your life or your personality (“I just have a nervous energy, that’s all”)? If so, revisit step one and analyze the core of your stressful situation. No one should live with debilitating stress because they believe it’s ‘part of who they are’.
  • Step 4: Avoid – With a better understanding of your stress triggers, you can systematically eliminate a lot of the things that stress you out. Drop any activities, groups or individuals that don’t inspire and excite you. When you know your limits and stick to them by refusing to accept added responsibilities, you avoid taking on more than you can handle. Likewise, once you take control of your environment you are significantly less likely to become anxious about minutia like chores or traffic.
  • Step 5: Recognize – Many things in life are beyond your control. Therefore, it is important to recognize unavoidable stress triggers such as serious illness, death or natural disasters, and learn how to practice good self care when they occur. Understand what activities or routines allow you to sufficiently reflect, relax and rejuvenate.

Check out our course offerings for more tips on handling stress.

How do you cope with stress? Share your strategies, tips and techniques in the comments.

(Image source: chmeredith’s Flickr)