Productivity and activity will help reduce stress, as long as it’s for yourself. I’m not much of an exercise buff, but I know it helps to just get up and do something in the morning, to workout the stress you’ve built up over the last day. Some people go for a bike ride. Some people go for a run. I prefer lifting weights or doing a little writing. Do something for yourself in the morning that is either mentally or physically beneficial to you. Maybe Yoga?
Writing a to-do list will help reduce stress. A lack of concentration can be caused by stress, and a lack of concentration will inevitably cause you to forget even the most basic things. One of the most effective stress management activities you can do is sit down and try to think about the most important things that need to be accomplished that day–and then do them. Also, throw an item on your list that involves doing something nice for someone special. Doing something nice for someone everyday is guaranteed to relieve some social stresses.
Learning to communicate with others effectively will reduce stress. When ideas or emotions are left unsaid, they tend to stew in our minds, causing us to say stupid or thoughtless things in order to avoid what’s really on our minds. If you’re sincere and honest (and friendly) with the people around you, either at work or at home, people will learn to respect you feelings and opinions: no more drama caused by misunderstandings.
Relieving yourself of bad habits like smoking and drinking will reduce your stress dramatically. Bad habits cause more stress than anything else. Once you stop abusing your body there will be no more worrying about lung cancer, emphysema, liver disease, stomach cancer, sclerosis of the liver, and pancreatitis. Don’t forget that a poor diet is as much a bad habit as smoking or drinking, so balance those meals and eat more produce.
Depression and anxiety medication will relieve the symptoms, but not the stress. Sometimes medications like Prozac and Xanax can help a person who has stresses that are or seem to be unsolvable—and I do use a drug called Lorazepam on occasion to help relieve the symptoms of stress (anxiety and panic attacks). But one must realize that these solutions are only temporary; taking time out for yourself and changing your lifestyle is the only permanent solution.
Therapy and Counseling for Stress
A personal therapist can help you find ways to resolve those issues that are causing you stress. You know those points in a conversation with your average friend or coworker where you’d like to expound on the problems caused to you by some other person or entity, but you don’t want to feed the rumor mill? And this problem has been eating you from the inside out for the past few weeks, and all you can do is think about it, worry about it, but never actually tell someone what it is because you don’t want them to know what it is your worried about or you don’t want them to worry about it either? We all have these episodes. That’s what stress is all about—not letting things go, not letting things out, not talking to someone about those things.
This is why a therapist and mental health counseling exists: to listen to us and to help us relieve some of our stress by getting those things off our chest that will do more damage to us physically than existentially. Therapists help us deal with the stress by being that disinterested (ie. unbiased) third party who will offer advice and strategy only when you ask them. Think of therapists as that one friend you never had who would listen to all of your problems and never offer a piece of advice unless it were explicitly solicited from them. Hell, my therapist and I hardly talk about stress at all anymore; our conversations as of late have more to do with our mutual contempt for certain kinds of (dumb) people than my own personal issues—and that’s fine.
Make friends with your therapist. If you can’t make friends with them, don’t be ashamed or afraid to deny their services. Find another therapist who is more akin to your personality. Therapists may not be able to take you out to lunch or show you a good time, or be social with you outside of their work, but someone that’s willing to listen, besides your mother, is only a phone call away—and that can make a world of difference to a person with a lot of stress in their life. So, don’t be afraid to try therapy.