Stress management not one-size-fits-all

Shutterstock 27318280How anxious do you feel? While reading an article linking stress to premature aging, it occurred to me that I really don’t know many people who don’t suffer from stress on some level. Although I found short-term stress can have some slight benefits (I had no idea), I found, not surprisingly, that intense stress over long periods of time can be a killer. With long-range effects of stress including everything from sleepless nights to heart disease, it makes sense to find some sort of coping strategy.

Well, there are a lot of strategies out there. A couple of the suggestions are no-brainers. Many resources pointed to time management as a critical part of a stress relief routine. It’s an obvious one – if you’re feeling rushed or behind schedule, that’s going to add to your stress – but one a lot of people simply ignore. Pairing time management and improved organization with some of the recommended techniques like meditation, exercise and taking frequent breaks made perfect sense to me. Others, such as watching fish swim and pretending you’re on a game show, seemed, well, less effective. However, if some expert somewhere has recommended dancing a jig as a relaxation technique, then it must actually work for some people. Clearly, managing stress is an incredibly personal challenge, involving the right mix of techniques and activities that work for you. If you can find that activity that slows your pulse and lowers your blood pressure, you can incorporate it into a stress management routine that includes a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep and organizing your day properly.

While reading about a lot of common sense (and some silly) stress relief suggestions, I stumbled upon a blog post that suggested if we rank those things we get so upset about – with 10 being the worst you could possibly imagine – we’d see most of those things we get really stressed over every day would probably only rank around one or two. So, if 10 is, for example, the death of a loved one, and losing your job ranks somewhere around 7, where exactly do those things we get upset about on a daily basis rank? If you stop and assess the event with the proper perspective, getting stuck in traffic and being late suddenly doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Doing something fun or silly may very well help you forget all about it. I’m not suggesting you should be nonchalant about cost overruns or equipment failure, but if you truly can find a way to not sweat the small stuff, getting your blood pressure up occasionally over the big stuff won’t be so damaging.