by Dr. William Epperly, Forum Health Bloomingdale
Around the holidays, the hustle and bustle can turn a season of peace and joy into a time of wanting to pull your hair out!
But over the years, I have accumulated a list of action steps a person can take to reduce the stress and the effects of stress in their lives, and this is a good time to remind people of some of them. So here’s my Top 40 list of the best stress reducers just in time for the holidays!
- Have a quiet time every day early in the morning to read, meditate, or pray.
- Take breaks more often than you do now.
- Go for a nice relaxing or a brisk walk.
- Take a deep breath before reacting negatively to someone or something.
- Listen to great music.
- Be sure to laugh as much as possible, including at yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Decide to be cheerful.
- Wish good will to people you meet (even if you don’t feel like it).
- Exercise at least three times a week doing something you enjoy at least a little.
- Sleep seven to nine hours a night.
- Have a hobby. Do something you enjoy other than work.
- Seek the help and advice of others whom you trust.
- Make a conscious effort to think and act like the person you want to be.
- Thoughts and attitudes lead to actions, but also actions lead to thoughts and attitudes.
- Admit your anger or frustration. Take responsibility for your feelings and find a healthy way of releasing them.
- Establish and remind yourself of your priorities and the BIG PICTURE.
- Remind yourself that a year from now, most of the things upsetting you now will probably not matter.
- Spend time reading interesting or fun books, conversing, watching programs that lift your spirit.
- Allow extra time for the unexpected. Give yourself more freedom.
- Become aware of tense muscles and relax them. Better yet, go get a massage.
- Put regularity into your life; set time for meals, religious practices, and recreation.
- Make a realistic list of tasks to accomplish each day, and celebrate your successes when you accomplish them.
- Do not overload your schedule. Learn to say “no”.
- Listen quietly for people to finish their sentences.
- Talk to your friends and relatives. Keep in touch.
- Get up 15 minutes earlier than you think you need to.
- Prepare for the morning the night before.
- Don’t rely on your memory. Write it down in a planner.
- Simplify meal times.
- Remember you always have options/choices.
- Pet a friendly dog or cat.
- Look for the silver lining in the dark clouds.
- Know your limitations and don’t be afraid to let others know them, too.
- Write a note of love and encouragement to a far away friend.
- Remember that stress is an attitude.
- Quit trying to “fix’ other people. Instead focus on being the best person YOU can be.
- For perspective, remember that your whole life is just a blip on the screen of eternity.
- Take specific action steps to change or solve what you actually have control over.
- Let go of the things you DON’T have control over. Sometimes you just have to let go and let God.
Start practicing a few of these, make them habits, and you will be making serious progress in one of the biggest areas of Lifestyle Medicine – stress management.
We hope you have a blessed, and not a stressed, holiday season!