Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t try to ignore feelings of aggravation. Acknowledge them, then look beyond them to specific solutions. If that’s not possible; then know that in the next hour, day, or week, the situation will change. Keep your perspective. Are the crises of two years ago important now, or have they been forgotten? Small stressors loom large in the present, but fade quickly if you let them. See them for what they are: small irritants, not earthshaking crises. Mark Twain used to say, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which have never happened.”
Don’t let guilt get to you. Guilt is destructive and can be a major source of unrelenting stress. If you have regrets, and it is possible to apologize to someone or repair some damage done, then do so and move on. Don’t let others manipulate you using guilt. Do what you need to do, to make sure it doesn’t happen again and be grateful for the lessons learned.
Develop coping strategies. Learn that you are not helpless in the situations that trigger stressful responses. Use these triggers to develop more resourceful and useful responses.
Learn to accept and adapt to change. Learn to have faith and practice being optimistic even in uncertain situations. Recognize that even the darkest clouds have a silver lining. Look for the opportunity to learn and grow and become more flexible through adversity. Take a leadership approach to problem solving. Don’t let your problems immobilize you.
Change the way you look at stress. Stress is not an external force. It is the way you react to people, places and things. You have control over that. Look for choices and alternatives. Don’t let fear take over. Break the problem down into small chunks that can be managed. See difficult situations as a chance to improve your problem solving skills. See them as enjoyable and challenging. Remember that things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.
Develop a support system. Everyone needs at least one person who acts as a sounding board. Choose some one you feel safe with, who you know you can share your hopes and fears with, without being judged. Just verbalizing feelings can be a great source of relief. Friends multiply joy and divide sorrow.
Learn to accept the things you can not change. The serenity prayer says it all: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Patience plays a large role in learning to accept what you can not change. Practice it often and it will become easier with time. Patience is sometimes putting up with people you would like to pu down. Don’t confuse acceptance with becoming helpless. Keeping busy and understanding that life is cyclical and ups and downs are all a part of the process will help.
Develop a personalized anti-stress regimen. This regimen should emphasize a healthy diet, exercise, and relaxation. It should be convenient, time effective, inexpensive and most important of all, enjoyable. Experimentation can provide you with one that is just right for you!
Don’t take it personally. Fate doesn’t single you out. When you are the target of someone else bad day, just remember that if you weren’t there, someone else would be the target instead. By not taking others negative behavior personally, you can break the stress cycle. You shouldn’t accept unpleasantness passively, but assert your right to be treated with respect, or temporarily remove yourself from the situation.
Believe in yourself. You are your own best friend. Remember that courage is believing in yourself when no one else does. Know that you have all the resources within you to make the changes you need to make and to meet all the challenges that life presents you with. This doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. True strength is in knowing when to ask for help. Self confidence is trusting in yourself to meet life’s challenges with a smile.