Four Ways To Limit Stress


Some stress in life is unavoidable and it can show up with joyful or distressing events.

Though we cannot control everything, we can decide how to best manage or relieve our stress by avoiding, altering, adapting or accepting our circumstances.


Avoiding stress has nothing to do with putting our head in the sand or avoiding events that make us nervous such as job interviews. It has everything to do with getting rid of self-generated stress caused by procrastination, or failure to prioritize, plan ahead and strategize.

For instance, we might practice better time management by getting the day’s most important task done before our checking email. We can try tips for breaking the procrastination habit or bundle our weekly errands to accomplish them in one trip.


Sometimes we can assess our circumstances and change a situation or aspects of it more to our advantage. This is often done using effective communication skills. Anyone who has improved their communication skills knows it can make life easier and less stressful.

For instance, we can express our feelings more effectively using “I statements,” instead of allowing the feelings to stew inside, or instead of rashly acting them out. An I statement might be, “It hurts when you joke about my weight, because I don’t think you are joking”; or, “The heavy workload and quick turnaround time are getting me frustrated; is there some way to adjust things so I can work more productively?”


Adapting is using our intelligence to outsmart a situation that we cannot change. Quite often it involves altering the how we think or trying out a different perspective.

For instance, we can practice mindfulness or non-judgmental awareness of the present moment to reduce negative thinking. If expecting perfection, we may decide to allow the beauty of unexpected results. Adjusting our perception can be accomplished by practicing appreciation or gratitude and putting today’s frustrations within the big picture: will these problems matter in five years?

We might also simply look at a situation from a different point of view. The annoyance of canceling an evening out because your friend has a sick child also gives you an opportunity to finish the book you started, catch up on laundry, or relax and watch a good movie.


Sometimes nothing we do will alter a situation. Part of maturing as a human being is learning acceptance or allowing things to be as they are. If it helps, we can talk to someone about our frustrations, work toward forgiving ourself and others for things that cannot be undone, and practice the art of self compassion.

Inspired by: Mayo Clinic
Photo credit: Massimo Regonati / flickr creative commons


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