NDSU Extension Service - Sargent County

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I Can Handle This - Personal Response to Stress

Last week I saw a poster on the wall in a friend’s office. The poster quoted Robert Brault, and it said, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

It made sense to me, and I found truth in it. I also thought the same idea applies to managing stress in our lives. The little things matter.

Covering our bases and taking care of the lifestyle choices are “big things.” They are things like nutrition, physical exercise, adequate sleep, limiting smoking and alcohol use, and financial management matter. But the little things, like our personal responses to stress, make a big difference, too.

Learning to relax is one of those things. Relaxation techniques are proactive. They give an immediate sense of being in control. Meditation, yoga and tai chi are examples of relaxation techniques we can learn.

Making time for fun is a little thing that is important, too. Perhaps you enjoy bowling, bird watching, fishing, needlework, or any of an incredible number of other leisure activities. If you can’t remember the last time you did something fun, it’s been too long.

Laughter is good for us. It benefits our body, mind, and soul. When I worked at a nursing home, I learned from the residents that it’s good to read the comics and cartoons in the daily newspaper. It made them chuckle, and all day long they had something to say or share to bring cheer to others, and that perpetuated their own cheer. The same goes for humorous greeting cards. YAY!

Share your concerns with someone you trust to help you find solutions. Choose your confidante carefully so you don’t end up pulling each other down into the rut of blame and complain. Celebrate small successes.

Manage your environment. De-clutter. Turn down the volume. Play music that helps you relax or de-stress. Reserve a bit of space on your desk, dashboard, walls, refrigerator, etc. for photos, quotes, or posters that inspire you. Use your break time to read a good book, stretch, take a walk down the hall, around the block, or up and down the stairs, or do a ten-minute workout with resistance bands. Tap into a stress management app such as those suggested at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/boomers/apps-to-reduce-stress

Work on relationships. Focus on the important people in your life and nurture those relationships. Be the best person you can be. If you’ve got some bad habits, work to change them, one at a time.

Stress is very personal. What stresses one person may have no effect on the next person. A strategy for coping with stress that works for one person, may not be at all helpful for another person. Find effective strategies and techniques that suit your lifestyle, values, interests, strengths, and resources.  

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