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Managing Stress for Better Health

April 2014

Karen Ensle EdD, RDN, FAND, CFCS
Family and Community Health Sciences Educator, Union County

Here are two simple techniques for managing stress:

  • Positive self-talk
  • Emergency stress stoppers

Positive Self-Talk: Self-talk is a good way to deal with stress. We all talk to ourselves; sometimes we talk out loud but usually we keep self-talk in our heads. Self-talk can be positive ("I can do this" or "Things will work out") or negative ("I'll never get well" or "I'm so stupid"). Negative self-talk increases stress. Positive self-talk helps you calm down and control stress. To help you feel better, practice positive self-talk each day in the car, at your desk, or whenever negative thoughts enter your mind. Remember, positive self-talk helps to relieve stress and will help you deal with situations that cause you stress. Here are some positive statements to try:
  • "I can get help if I need it."
  • "We can work it out."
  • "I won't let this problem get me down."
  • "I'm human, and we all make mistakes."
  • “Someday I'll laugh about this."
  • "I can deal with this situation when I feel better."

Emergency Stress Stoppers: Stress at work, at home, on the road, and in public places happens due to poor communication, too much work, and everyday hassles like standing in line. Emergency stress stoppers help you to deal with stress on the spot. You may need different stress stoppers for different situations and sometimes it helps to combine them. Below are some examples:
  • Count to 10 before you speak.
  • Take three to five deep breaths.
  • Walk away from a stressful situation and say you'll handle it later.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Don't be afraid to say "I'm sorry" if you make a mistake.
  • Set your clock or watch five to 10 minutes ahead to avoid being late.
  • Break down big problems into smaller parts. For example, answer one letter or phone call per day instead of dealing with everything at once.
  • Drive in the slow lane or avoid busy roads to help you stay calm while driving.
  • Smell a rose, hug a loved one, or smile at a neighbor or co-worker.
  • Try yoga or meditation.

Your effort to reduce daily issues that annoy you and cause your mind and body to get tense and irritable can be adjusted by following some of these techniques. Your health and future happiness depend on taking a positive approach to life. Try taking small steps to relieve your daily stress.