52 Proven Stress Reducers
Did you know that I can feel stress? Young children can feel more stress than anybody! Usually people talk about stress when they are talking about older kids or grown-ups. It is hard for grown-ups to think that little children might feel stress too, but we do. We don’t understand the world as well as you do and have very little control over what happens to us. That can be very stressful! I really need your help with this one!
- Help me understand my routine each day. I like to know what is going to happen next. I like to hear it every day, even if we did the same thing yesterday. You might hear me ask the same questions over and over again. Try not to get frustrated with me. This is my way of trying to understand or asking you to give me more information.
- Let me know if there is going to be a change in my routine. I feel worried inside when I don’t know what is going to happen or if I don’t know what I need to do. It really helps when you tell me about my day when I wake up in the morning and If you keep me updated as the day moves forward. It really helps me do what I need to do, when you can give me a five minute warning before a change happens. Even If I complain and don’t like what is going to happen, I can still get ready and do well with your help, if you stay calm. If I don’t do well, it is not your fault, I will know that you tried. Sometimes changes are just hard for little children.
- Talk to me if I get upset about a change. Ask me why I am upset. Sometimes I just don’t like to stop what I am doing or sometimes I might be worried about what will happen next. I need your help putting my feelings into words. There may be something I don’t understand. It will be easier for me to calm down if you stay calm while you help me.
- Practice new things with me before I have to do them with others. If I am going to do something new, it helps me get ready and feel good about trying if I can practice with you first. Even if our practice is not exactly the same as what is going to happen, just pretending about something new or just reading a book about it, can help. When the new thing happens I’ll remember about practicing with you and know just what to do.
- Help me know what to do when I miss you. Being away from you is hard for me, even when I am doing something fun or am with someone I like. Sometimes it helps if you tell me what we will do together when you come back. I might feel better if I have a special toy or blanket with me or if I get to keep something of yours while you are away. It might help if you tell me what you do when you miss me. You are my most important person and I feel best when you are near me.
- Protect me. Be careful what I see and hear. Grown-up things can scare me. I’m not sure yet what is real and what is pretend. Even shows and movies made for kids can scare me. Hearing about grown-up problems can scare me too because I don’t understand grownup things. I really get scared when grown-ups get upset around me, even if it is because of grown-up problems. Protect me and if I see some thing that upsets me, reassure me that I am safe and take me away from it if you can.
- Listen to me. I get excited about what I am learning and want to tell you about it. I trust you the most and save some of my most important news for you. I also save some of my most important questions and worries for you too. This helps me feel safe. Help me know that I can ask you anything and talk to you about anything and you will try to understand, even If what I am saying is making you upset too. I need you to help me make sense of the world because I am too little to do it for myself.
- Some stress is “good” stress and some stress is “bad” stress. Not all stress is bad. Learning to do new things can be stressful for me but you can help me take a break if I need to or you can help me feel good about trying. “Bad” stress makes me feel scared or worried inside. “Bad” stress makes it hard for me to go to school ready to learn because my feelings will be in the way.
Content provided courtesy of The Children’s Home of Cincinnati and Central Clinic.
Separation Anxiety in Children
Easing Separation Anxiety Disorder
It’s natural for your young child to feel anxious when you say goodbye. Although it can be difficult, separation anxiety is a normal stage of development. With understanding, patience, and coping strategies, it can be relieved—and should fade as your child gets older.
In some children, however, fears about separation seem to only intensify as time passes, or resurface out of the blue. If anxieties are persistent and excessive enough to get in the way of school or other activities, it is possible that your child has separation anxiety disorder. Unlike normal separation anxiety, this condition may require the support of a professional—but there is also a lot that you as a parent can do to help.
Separation Anxiety: what’s normal and what’s not
In early childhood, crying, tantrums, or clinginess are healthy reactions to separation. Separation anxiety can begin before a child’s first birthday, and may pop up again or last until a child is four years old, but both the intensity level and timing of separation anxiety vary tremendously form child to child. A little worry over leaving Mom or Dad is normal, even when your child is older. You can ease your child’s anxiety by staying patient and consistent, and by gently but firmly setting limits.
Some kids, however, experience separation anxiety that doesn’t go away, even with a parent’s best efforts. These children experience a continuation or reoccurrence of intense separation anxiety during their elementary school years or beyond. If anxiety is excessive enough to interfere with normal activities like school and friendships, and lasts for months rather than days, it may be a sign of a larger problem: separation anxiety disorder.
Separation anxiety disorder is not a normal stage of development, but a serious emotional problem characterized by extreme distress when a child is away from the primary caregiver. Unlike the occasional worries that children may feel at times of separation, separation anxiety disorder causes fears that limit a child’s ability to engage in ordinary life.
Easing normal separation anxiety
For children with normal separation anxiety, there are steps you can take to make the process of separation anxiety easier.
- Practice separation. Leave your child with a caregiver for brief periods and short distances at first.
- Schedule separations after naps or feedings. Babies are more susceptible to separation anxiety when they’re tired or hungry.
- Develop a “goodbye” ritual. Rituals are reassuring and can be as simple as a special wave through the window or a goodbye kiss.
- Keep familiar surroundings when possible and make new surroundings familiar. Have the sitter come to your house. When your child is away from home, let him or her bring a familiar object.
- Have a consistent primary caregiver. If you hire a caregiver, try to keep him or her on the job.
- Leave without fanfare. Tell your child you are leaving and that you will return, then go—don’t stall.
- Minimize scary television. Your child is less likely to be fearful if the shows you watch are not frightening.
- Try not to give in. Reassure your child that he or she will be just fine—setting limits will help the adjustment to separation.
Symptoms of separation anxiety disorder
Normal separation anxiety and separation anxiety disorder share many of the same symptoms, so it can be confusing to try to figure out if your child just needs time and understanding—or has a more serious problem.
The main differences between healthy separation anxiety and a disorder are the intensity of your child’s fears, and whether these fears keep him or her from normal activities. Children with separation anxiety disorder may become agitated at just the thought of being away from Mom or Dad, and may complain of sickness to avoid playing with friends or attending school. When symptoms are extreme enough, these anxieties can add up to a disorder.
Common symptoms of separation anxiety disorder: worries and fears
Kids with separation anxiety disorder feel constantly worried or fearful about separation. Many kids are overwhelmed with one or more of the following:
- Fear that something terrible will happen to a loved one. The most common fear a child with separation anxiety disorder experiences is the worry that harm will come to a loved one in the child's absence. For example, the child may constantly worry about a parent becoming sick or getting hurt.
- Worry that an unpredicted event will lead to permanent separation. Kids with anxiety disorder may fear that once separated from a parent, something will happen to keep the separation. For example, they may worry about being kidnapped or getting lost.
- Nightmares about separation. Children with separation problems often have scary dreams about their fears.
Common symptoms of separation anxiety disorder: refusals and sickness
Separation anxiety disorder can get in the way of kids’ normal activities. Children with this disorder often:
- Refuse to go to school. A child with separation anxiety disorder may have an unreasonable fear of school, and will do almost anything to stay home.
- Display reluctance to go to sleep. Anxiety may make these children insomniacs, either because of the fear of being alone or due to nightmares about separation.
- Complain of physical sickness like a headache or stomachache. At the time of separation, or before, children with this disorder often complain they feel ill.
- Cling to the caregiver. Children with separation problems may shadow you around the house or cling to your arm or leg if you attempt to step out.
A Secure Connection
Healthy attachment between you and your baby fosters trust, communication, and love. You can begin developing a close bond with your baby from the moment he or she comes into your life.
Read: Bonding With Your Baby
Common causes of separation anxiety disorder
Separation anxiety disorder occurs because a child feels unsafe in some way. Take a look at anything that may have thrown your child’s world off balance, or made him or her feel threatened or could have upset your child’s normal routine. If you can pinpoint the root cause—or causes—you’ll be one step closer to helping your child through his or her struggles. The following are common causes of separation anxiety disorder:
- Change in environment. In children prone to separation anxiety, it is possible that changes in surroundings—like a new house, school, or day care situation—could trigger separation anxiety disorder.
- Stress. Stressful situations like switching schools, or the loss of a loved one, including a pet, can trigger separation anxiety disorder.
- Over-protective parent. In some cases, separation anxiety disorder may be the manifestation of the parent’s own anxiety—parents and children can feed one another’s anxieties.
Anxiety or trauma?
If it seems like your child’s separation anxiety disorder happened overnight, the cause might be something related to a traumatic experience rather than separation anxiety. Although these two conditions can share symptoms, they are treated differently. Help your child benefit from the most fitting treatment.
Read: Healing Emotional and Psychological Trauma
Helping a child who has separation anxiety disorder
You can help your child combat separation anxiety disorder by taking steps to make him or her feel safer. Providing a sympathetic environment at home can make your child feel more comfortable, and making changes at school may help reduce your child’s symptoms. And even if your efforts don’t completely solve the problem, your empathy can only make things better.
Tips for dealing with separation anxiety
The following tips can help you create a stable and supportive environment for your child.
- Educate yourself about separation anxiety disorder. If you learn about how your child experiences this disorder, you can more easily sympathize with his or her struggles.
- Listen to and respect your child’s feelings. For a child who might already feel isolated by his or her disorder, the experience of being listened to can have a powerful helping effect.
- Talk about the issue. It’s healthier for children to talk about their feelings—they don’t benefit from “not thinking about it.” Be empathetic, but also remind the child—gently—that he or she survived the last separation.
- Anticipate separation difficulty. Be ready for transition points that can cause anxiety for your child, such as going to school or meeting with friends to play. If your child separates from one parent more easily than the other, have that parent handle the drop off.
Tips for helping your child feel safe and secure
- Provide a consistent pattern for the day. Don’t underestimate the importance of predictability for children with separation problems. If your family’s schedule is going to change, discuss it ahead of time with your child.
- Set limits. Let your child know that although you understand his or her feelings, there are rules in your household that need to be followed.
- Offer choices. If your child is given a choice or some element of control in an activity or interaction with an adult, he or she may feel more safe and comfortable.
Tips for encouraging healthy separation and independence
- Keep calm during separation. If your child sees that you can stay cool, he or she is more likely to be calm, too.
- Support the child's participation in activities. Encourage your child to participate in healthy social and physical activities.
- Help a child who has been absent from school return as quickly as possible. Even if a shorter school day is necessary initially, children's symptoms are more likely to decrease when they discover that they can survive the separation.
- Praise your child’s efforts. Use the smallest of accomplishments—going to bed without a fuss, a good report from school—as reason to give your child positive reinforcement.
|Easing separation anxiety: Tips for school
Address the cause for avoidance of school.
Initiate a plan for your child to return to school immediately. This may include gradual reintroduction with partial days at first.
Accommodate late arrival.
If the school can be lenient about late arrival at first, it can give you and your child a little wiggle room to talk and separate at your child’s slower pace.
Identify a safe place.
Find a place at school where your child can go to reduce anxiety during stressful periods. Develop guidelines for appropriate use of the safe place.
Allow the child contact with home.
At times of stress at school, a brief phone call—a minute or two—with family may substantially reduce anxiety.
Send notes for your child to read.
You can place a note for your child in his or her lunch box or locker. A quick “I love you!” on a napkin can reassure a child.
Provide assistance to the child during interactions with peers.
An adult's help, whether it is a teacher or counselor’s, may be beneficial for both the child and his or her peers.
Reward a child's efforts.
Just like at home, every good effort—or small step in the right direction—deserves to be praised.
Combat separation anxiety by getting your own stress and anxiety in check
Kids with anxious parents may be more prone to separation anxiety. In order to help your child overcome separation anxiety disorder, you may need to take measures to become calmer and more centered yourself. Try some of the following strategies to keep your stress in check.
- Talk about your feelings. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress.
- Eat right. A well-nourished body is better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat.
- Practice relaxation. You can control your stress levels with relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.
- Get enough sleep. Feeling tired will only increase your stress, causing you to think irrationally or foggily.
- Keep your sense of humor. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.
You can decrease your stress and make your life feel more manageable. Learn to take control of your emotions, schedule, environment, and the way you cope. With a few small changes and take-charge attitude, you can substantially reduce your own anxiety, and possibly your child’s, too.
Read: Quick Stress Relief and How to Stop Worrying
When to seek professional help for separation anxiety disorder
Your own patience and know-how can go a long way toward helping your child with separation anxiety disorder. But some kids with separation anxiety disorder may need professional intervention.
As a parent, how do you know when to seek help for your child? Look for “red flags,” or extreme symptoms that go beyond milder warning signs. If your efforts to reduce these symptoms don’t work, it may be the time to find a mental health specialist. Remember, these may also be symptoms of a trauma that your child has experienced. If this is the case, it is important to see a child trauma specialist.
If you see any of the following “red flags” and your interventions don’t seem to be enough, it may be necessary to get a professional to diagnose and help your child.
- Age-inappropriate clinginess or tantrums
- Constant complaints of physical sickness
- Withdrawal from friends, family, or peers
- Refusing to go to school for weeks
- Preoccupation with intense fear or guilt
- Excessive fear of leaving the house
Treatment for separation anxiety disorder
Child psychiatrists, child psychologists, or pediatric neurologists can diagnose and treat separation anxiety disorder. These trained clinicians integrate information from home, school, and at least one clinical visit in order to make a diagnosis. Keep in mind that children with separation anxiety disorder frequently have physical complaints that may need to be medically evaluated.
Specialists can address physical symptoms, identify anxious thoughts, help your child develop coping strategies, and foster problem solving. Professional treatment for separation anxiety disorder may include:
- Talk therapy. Talk therapy provides a safe place for your child to express his or her feelings. Having someone to listen empathetically and guide your child toward understanding his or her anxiety can be powerful treatment.
- Play therapy. The therapeutic use of play is a common and effective way to get kids talking about their feelings.
- Counseling for the family. Family counseling can help your child counteract the thoughts that fuel his or her anxiety, while you as the parent can help your child learn coping skills.
- Medication. Medications may be used to treat severe cases of separation anxiety disorder. It should be used only in conjunction with other therapy.
Anxiety Attacks and Disorders
Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment
Healing Emotional and Psychological Trauma
Causes, Symptoms, Help
More Helpguide articles:
Related links for separation anxiety and separation anxiety disorder
Normal separation anxiety in young children
Separation Anxiety – Provides a multifaceted, readable description of symptoms and strategies concerning normal separation anxiety, that which doesn’t rise to the level of a disorder. (Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service, Australia)
Separation Anxiety – Describes typical phase of separation anxiety in infants. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Separation Anxiety in Young Children – Gives a detailed description of normal separation anxiety, with tips for parents and teachers. Also includes information about diagnosis and treatment for separation anxiety disorder. (Northern County Psychiatric Associates)
Separation anxiety disorder
What is Separation Anxiety Disorder? – Examines separation anxiety disorder at home and at school for children and teenagers, discusses possible treatments and provides tips for home and school intervention. (Massachusetts General Hospital)
The Anxious Child No. 47 – Provides an overview of separation anxiety disorder, symptoms and treatment options. (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
Separation Anxiety Disorder – Provides information on anxiety disorders of children and adolescents, including separation anxiety. (Anxiety Disorders Association of America)
Dealing with separation anxiety: Tips for parents
Separation Anxiety – Offers practical suggestions for parents dealing with separation anxiety disorder, as well as books to read to children. (KidsHealth / Nemours Foundation)
9 Parent-Tested Ways to Ease Separation Anxiety – Provides tips from parents who have helped their children overcome separation anxiety. (Scholastic.com)
School Refusal in Children and Adolescents – Detailed article written for physicians about the problem of school age children refusing to go to school. Includes questions for parents to consider about fears and motivations of child. (American Academy of Family Physicians)
Emotional Trauma Video – Provides a thirty-minute documentary about preventing, recognizing, and healing psychological trauma in children.
Article used by permission of HELPGUIDE.org written by Jocelyn Block, M.A., and Melinda Smith, M.A., contributed to this article. Last reviewed: April 2010.
Stress Management For Parents
The Stress of Parenting
Being a parent can be one of life's most joyful and rewarding experiences, but there are times in everyone's life when the demands and hassles of daily living cause stress. The additional stress of caring for children can, at times, make parents feel angry, anxious, or just plain "stressed out." These tensions are a normal, inevitable part of family life, and parents need to learn ways to cope so that they don't feel overwhelmed by them.
As parents, we have to learn our jobs as we go along. Although we love our children, we soon realize that love isn't all that's needed. We need patience and creativity too, and sometimes, these qualities seem to be in short supply. Learning how to be a parent will probably continue until all your children are grown up. Because each child is unique, what worked with Joe will not necessarily work with Sally, and what worked for Sally probably will not help you cope with George.
Caring for small children is tiring. On bad days, we can feel trapped by the constant responsibility. Caring for older children is less physically draining but more worrisome because they spend much more time outside the home.
If there are young children in the family, there may not be enough time for parents to find time to spend together just enjoying each other's company. Single parents have difficulty finding time and energy to have a social life. Parents with full-time jobs have difficulty finding family play-time. Calendars tend to become over-scheduled. We all need time for ourselves, to concentrate on hobbies or interests, or just to relax.
Have a realistic attitude
Most parents have high expectations of how things should be -we all want a perfect family and we all worry about how our children will turn out. It is important to remember there are no perfect children and no perfect parents. All children misbehave sometimes. Parents can make mistakes. Wanting the ideal family can get in the way of enjoying the one you have.
You may worry about whether your children will be successful. Remember - they are each individuals. Accept them for who they are. Children who are loved, encouraged and allowed to grow up at their own pace will develop good self-esteem and confidence.
It is helpful to step back and take a long-range point of view. Have confidence that things will turn out well. Children can go through difficult stages. What is stressful today may resolve itself in a short time.
How to recognize the symptoms of stress
Stress becomes a problem when you feel overwhelmed by the things that happen to you. You may feel "stressed out" when it seems there is too much to deal with all at once, and you are not sure how to handle it all.
When you feel stressed, you usually have some physical symptoms. You can feel tired, get headaches, stomach upsets or backaches, clench your jaw or grind your teeth, develop skin rashes, have recurring colds or flu, have muscle spasms or nervous twitches, or have problems sleeping.
Mental signs of stress include feeling pressured, having difficulty concentrating, being forgetful and having trouble making decisions.
Emotional signs include feeling angry, frustrated, tense, anxious, or more aggressive than usual.
How can you cope?
Coping with the stress of parenting starts with understanding what makes you feel stressed, learning to recognize the symptoms of too much stress, and learning some new ways of handling life's problems. You may not always be able to tell exactly what is causing your emotional tension, but it is important to remind yourself that it is not your children's fault.
We all have reactions to life's events which are based on our own personal histories. For the most part, we never completely understand the deep-down causes of all our feelings. What we must realize is that our feelings of stress come from inside ourselves and that we can learn to keep our stress reactions under control. Here are some tips which can help:
Make time for yourself. Reserve time each week for your own activities.
Take care of your health with a good diet and regular exercise. Parents need a lot of energy to look after children.
Avoid fatigue. Go to bed earlier and take short naps when you can.
Take a break from looking after the children. Help keep stress from building up. Ask for help from friends or relatives to take care of the children for a while. Exchange babysitting services with a neighbour, or hire a teenager, even for a short time once a week to get some time for yourself.
Look for community programs for parents and children. They offer activities that are fun, other parents to talk with, and some even have babysitting.
Talk to someone. Sharing your worries is a great stress reducer!
Look for parenting courses and groups in your community.
Learn some ways of unwinding to manage the tension. Simple daily stretching exercises help relieve muscle tension. Vigorous walking, aerobics or sports are excellent ways for some people to unwind and work off tension; others find deep-breathing exercises are a fast, easy and effective way to control physical and mental tension.
If you're feeling pressured, tense or drawn out at the end of a busy day, say so. Tell your children calmly that you will be happy to give them some attention soon but first you need a short "quiet time" so that you can relax.
Practise time management. Set aside time to spend with the children, time for yourself, and time for your spouse and/or friends. Learn to say "no" to requests that interfere with these important times. Cut down on outside activities that cause the family to feel rushed.
Develop good relationships
Family relationships are built over time with loving care and concern for other people's feelings. Talk over family problems in a warm, relaxed atmosphere. Focus on solutions rather than finding blame. If you are too busy or upset to listen well at a certain time, say so. Then agree on a better time, and make sure to do it. Laugh together, be appreciative of each other, and give compliments often. It may be very hard to schedule time to spend with your family, doing things that you all enjoy, but it is the best time you will ever invest.
Parents and children need time to spend one-to-one. Whether yours is a one or two-parent family, each parent should try to find a little time to spend alone with each child. You could read a bedtime story, play a game, or go for a walk together.
Do you need more help?
If you are considering getting some additional support or information to help you cope with the stress of parenting, there are many different resources available, including books and video tapes on stress management, parenting courses and workshops, professional counselling and self-help groups. Contact a community organization such as the Canadian Mental Health Association for more information about services in your community.
Article used by permission of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
52 Proven Stress Reducers
- Get up fifteen minutes earlier in the morning. The inevitable morning mishaps will be less stressful.
- Prepare for the morning the evening before. Set the breakfast table, make lunches, put out the clothes you plan to wear, etc.
- Don’t rely on your memory. Write down appointment times, when to pick up the laundry, when library books are due, etc. (“The palest ink is better than the most retentive memory.”-Old Chinese Proverb)
- Doing nothing which, after being done, leads you to tell a lie.
- Make duplicates of all keys. Bury a house key in a secret spot in the garden and carry a duplicate car key in your wallet, apart from your key ring.
- Practice preventive maintenance: your car, appliances, home and relationships will be less likely to break down/fall apart “at the worst possible moment.”
- Be prepared to wait. A paperback can make a wait in a post office line almost pleasant.
- Procrastination is stressful. Whatever you want to do tomorrow, do today; whatever you want to do today, do it now.
- Plan ahead. Don’t let the gas tank get below one-quarter full. Keep a well-stocked emergency shelf of home supplies. Don’t wait until you’re down to your last bus token or postage stamp to buy more, etc.
- Don’t put up with something that doesn’t work right. If your alarm clock, wallet, shoe laces, windshield wipers, whatever are a constant aggravation, get them fixed or get new ones.
- Allow 15 minutes of extra time to get to appointments. Plan to arrive at an airport one hour before domestic departures.
- Eliminate (or restrict) the amount of caffeine in your diet.
- Always set up contingency plans, “just in case.” (“If for some reason either of us is delayed, here’s what we’ll do..” Or, “If we get split up in the shopping center, here’s where we’ll meet,” i.e. cash register.)
- Relax your standards. The world will not end if the grass doesn’t get mowed this weekend.
- Pollyanna-Power! For every one thing that goes wrong, there are probably 10 or 50 or 100 blessings. Count’em!
- Ask questions. Taking a few moments to repeat back directions, what someone expects of you, etc., can save hours. (The old “ the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get,” idea).
- Say “No!.” Saying “no” to extra projects, social activities, and invitations you know you don’t have the time or energy for takes practice, self-respect, and a belief that everyone, everyday, needs quiet time to relax and be alone.
- Unplug your phone. Want to take a long bath, meditate, sleep, or read without interruption? Drum up the courage to temporarily disconnect. (The possibility of there being a terrible emergency in the next hour or so is almost nil). Or use an answering machine.
- Turn needs into preferences. Our basic physical needs translate into food, water, and keeping warm. Everything else is a preference. Don’t get attached to preferences.
- Simplify, simplify, simplify...
- Make friends with nonworriers. Nothing can get you into the habit or worrying faster than associating with chronic worrywarts.
- Get up and stretch periodically if your job requires that you sit for extended periods.
- Wear earplugs. If you need to find quiet at home, pop in some earplugs.
- Get enough sleep. If necessary, use an alarm clock to remind you to go to bed.
- Create order out of chaos. Organize your home and workspace so that you always know exactly where things are. Put things away where they belong and you won’t have to go through the stress of losing things.
- When feeling stressed, most people tend to breathe in short, shallow breaths. When you breathe like this, stale air is not expelled, oxidation of the tissues is incomplete and muscle tension frequently results. Check your breathing throughout the day and before, during and after high pressure situations. If you find your stomach muscles are knotted and your breathing is shallow, relax all your muscles and take several deep, slow breaths. Note how, when you’re relaxed, both your abdomen and chest expand when you breathe.
- Writing your thoughts and feelings down (in a journal, or a paper to be thrown away) can help you clarify things and can give you a renewed perspective.
- Try the following yoga technique whenever you feel the need to relax. Inhale deeply through your nose to the count of eight. Then with lips puckered, exhale very slowly through your mouth to the count of 15 or for as long as you can. Concentrate on the long sighing sound and feel the tension dissolve. Repeat 10 times.
- Protect yourself against a feared event. For example, before speaking in public, take time to go over every part of the experience in your mind. Imagine what you’ll wear, what the audience will look like, how you will present your talk, what the questions will be and how you will answer them, etc. Visualize the experience the way you would have it be. You’ll likely find that when the time comes to make the actual presentation, it will be “old hat” and much of your anxiety will have fled.
- When the stress of having to get a job done gets in the way of getting the job done, diversion (a voluntary change in activity and/or environment) may be just what you need.
- Talk it out. Discussing your problems with a trusted friend can help clear your mind of confusion so you can concentrate on problem solving.
- One of the most obvious ways to avoid unnecessary stress is to select an environment (work, home, leisure) which is in line with your personal needs and desires. If you hate desk jobs, don’t accept a job which requires that you sit at a desk all day. If you hate to talk politics, don’t associate with people who love to talk politics, etc.
- Learn to live one day at a time.
- Every day, do something you really enjoy.
- Add an ounce of love to everything you do.
- Take a hot bath or shower (or a cool one in the summertime) to relieve tension.
- Do something for somebody else. Make a meal for someone who is in need.
- Focus on understanding rather than on being understood; on loving rather than on being loved.
- Do something that will improve your appearance. Looking better can help you feel better.
- Schedule a realistic day. Avoid the tendency to schedule back-to-back appointments. Allow time between appointments for a breathing spell.
- Become more flexible. Some things are worth not doing perfectly and some issues are well to compromise upon.
- Eliminate destructive self-talk; “I’m too old to...,” “I’m too fat to...,” etc.
- Use your weekend time for a change of pace. If your work week is slow and patterned, make sure there is action and time for spontaneity built into your weekends. If your work week is fast-paced and full of people and deadlines, seek peace and solitude during your days off. Feel as if you are not accomplishing anything at work? Tackle a job on the weekend which you can finish to your satisfaction.
- “Worry about the pennies and the dollars will take of themselves.” That’s another way of saying: take care of the today's business as best you can and the yesterdays and the tomorrows will take care of themselves.
- Do one thing at a time. When you are with someone, be with that person and with no one or anything else. When you are busy with a project, concentrate on doing that project and forget about everything else you have to do.
- Allow yourself time-everyday-for privacy, quiet, and introspection.
- If an especially unpleasant task faces you, do it early in the day and get it over with. Then, the rest of your day will be free of anxiety.
- Learn to delegate responsibility to capable others.
- Don’t forget to take a lunch break. Try to get away from your desk or work area in body and mind, even if its just for 15 or 20 minutes.
- Forget about counting to 10. Count to 1,000 before doing something or saying anything that could make matters worse.
- Have a forgiving view of events and people. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world.
- Have an optimistic view of the world. Believe that most people are doing the best they can.
Content used by permission of the Child Development Institute: http://www.4parenting.com
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