None of these coping strategies are new. They are common sense techniques for reducing stress that we all know, but sometimes it helps to be reminded of them.

Save the ones you'd like to remember. Add your own to the list.

  1. Say "no" when asked to do something you really don't want to do. Read a book on assertiveness if you have trouble doing this in a firm but kind way.
  2. When you're concerned about something, talk it over with someone you trust, or write down your feelings.
  3. Take time--you'll never "find" time--to be alone on a regular basis to listen to your heart, to re-evaluate your goals, and to prioritize your activities.
  4. Plan to do something each day that gives you energy, something you love to do, something just for you.
  5. Take deep, slow breaths often--especially while on the phone, in the car, or waiting for something or someone. Use this time to relax and revitalize yourself.
  6. Choose not to waste the present with guilt over the past or worry about the future.
  7. Remember that neither actually exists.
  8. Remember to use helpful cliches such as, "In a hundred years, who will know the difference?"
  9. "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger," and "Whether you think you can or you can't--you're right."
  10. Remember that it takes less energy to get an unpleasant task done "right now" than it does to worry about it all day.
  11. Take time to be with nature, nourishing people, music, and children. Even in cities, the sky, seasonal changes, and noticing people's faces can be good harmonizers.
  12. Practice doing one thing at a time, keeping your mind focused on the activity. Do whatever you do more slowly, more intently - and with more awareness and respect.
  13. Learn a variety of relaxation techniques and practice at least one everyday.
  14. Carry a card with four or five affirmations (positive statements) written on it, such as "I am calm and relaxed" and "I am confident and able to handle any situation." Refer to this card repeatedly throughout your day.
  15. Organize your life including time for fun, spontaneity, and empty spaces. Set a realistic schedule, allowing some transition time between activities. Eliminate unnecessary commitments.
  16. When you repeatedly find yourself getting angry in similar situations, ask yourself, "What can I learn from this?" When someone or something makes you angry, you are letting that person or thing control you. You are also being controlled by your own expectations of how people and situations "should" be. When we accept the world the way it is, we become more effective in influencing ourselves and others to change in the direction we'd like.
  17. Practice basic communication skills, such as "I" statements and active listening techniques.
  18. Start to replace "I need" with "I want," and "I have to" with "I choose to." Notice the difference in your body and your stress level when you say "I choose to" and not "I have to."
  19. Develop skills in negotiation and compromise, and become more flexible in those areas that aren't so important to you.
  20. Become more aware of the demands you place on other people, your environment, and yourself to be different than they/you are at any moment. Demands are a major source of stress.
  21. Take relaxation breaks.
  22. If your schedule is busy, prioritize your activities and do the most important first.
  23. When you read your mail, act on it immediately--file it, send it back, toss it, etc.
  24. Laugh more. Laughter is one of the oldest and most natural stress reduction techniques.
  25. Learn to delegate responsibility.
  26. Treat yourself to a massage and/or learn to massage your own neck, shoulders, and feet.
  27. Monitor your intake of sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol. These substances have been shown to increase your body's base level of stress.
  28. Stop using tobacco products. Nicotine (a chemical found in cigarettes, snuff, and chewing and pipe tobacco) triggers the stress response.
  29. Stretch! Short two to five minute stretching breaks can reduce tension in your neck, shoulders, back, legs, and arms. Take at least two or three of these refreshing breaks every day.
  30. Exercise regularly! Exercise strengthens your ability to tolerate stress. Try to exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes, three to five times a week.
  31. Create and maintain a personal support system--people with whom you can really be yourself.
  32. Seek professional help if you feel unable to cope.

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