Randy Brazzel MA, LPC, LMFT

  1. Learn to recognize signs of stress. Some of the signs of stress are:
    • Fatigue---Do you feel tired often? Not having the energy to do tasks that normally are easy and or enjoyable can be a sign the stress is taking its toll.
    • Physical pain---Having frequent headaches, backaches and or other tense muscles are warning signs that your body is being overloaded.
    • Sleep disturbance---Having difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up can indicate stress.
    • Poor concentration ---Having trouble remembering everything that you need to do may indicate that you are doing too much.
    • Volatile emotions---Having multiple mood swings and a low frustration tolerance may mean that you’ve reached the saturation point with stress.
  2. Learn to relax. Learn to recognize times when you feel tense and take time to release some of that tension. Try this experiment: Close your eyes and become aware of the sound and feel of your breathing. Notice the pace of your breathing; is it deep or shallow? Try to focus on taking slow deep breaths for 1 minute. Then take a moment to notice any aches and pains that may be occurring in your body. Do your feet hurt? Maybe it’s time to get your feet off the ground and kick your shoes off for a few minutes. Does your neck and shoulders ache? If so, it may be a good time to re-examine the things that you have to “carry on your shoulders.” The location of the aches and pains in your body can give you a good indication of the stress that needs to be dealt with. Learn to ask yourself “What is my body trying to tell me?” And then respond to it. Aches and pains are simply our body’s way of telling us that it needs some tender loving care. Give your body the maintenance it needs.
  3. Exercise. Physical activities are a great way to blow off steam and work off stress.
  4. Talk out your worries. Keeping worries to yourself only increases tension.
  5. Lean to communicate. Talking about your needs and feelings is an important part of decreasing stress.
  6. Learn to accept what you cannot change. Serenity comes through acceptance.
  7. Avoid self-medication. Drugs and alcohol only mask stress. It does not take it away. It also limits your body’s natural ability to tell you what needs to be taken care of. Listen to your body, don’t numb it out.
  8. Get adequate sleep and rest. Take time to re-energize.
  9. Balance work and play. Having fun rejuvenates us. Don’t take everything too seriously, take time to laugh and play. Be spontaneous, rather than planning all of your time.
  10. Give to others. Do something for other people. Stress often decreases when we move out of our self-centeredness.
  11. Accept the gifts of other. When someone reaches out with love and affection, accept it. Don’t criticize them for not giving it soon enough.
  12. Prioritize your time. Don’t over-schedule yourself. Allow time for breaks and fun.
  13. Stop “Awful-izing.” Don’t be a terminal pessimist. We often find what we are looking for. Look for the positive and you just might find it.
  14. Allow for change. People and families change over time. Don’t expect things to always be the way they were in the past. Develop new ‘traditions’ rather than relying on old outdated rituals.
  15. Update your expectations. Take an inventory of your expectations. Are all of them realistic? Let go of the unrealistic expectations so that you can begin to accept what is rather than always looking for what ‘should’ be.

The way to best handle stress is summarized within the Serenity Prayer:

GOD grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.