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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Do you have strategies that help you manage stress?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (30606points) February 19th, 2014

I have a lot of different things happening in my life. I’m juggling a lot of very different items.

I’m applying for a good-paying job, which would require me to move. I have an excellent chance to get it. The man, who just retired from the position and who is very highly regarded, hand picked me to succeed him. It is a job with the state government, so they must follow procedures, and they move extremely slowly.

I’m in the important planning stages for a major theatrical production to be performed this summer, but if I get the job and move, I will have to hand over the reins to my assistant director. I’ve assembled a top-notch production team, and they can do the show without me, but I’m stuck as the leader at present.

My attention on my personal things is necessarily divided, and the division makes me bonkers. If I get the job, great! I can hand over the show and move with a clear head. If I don’t get it, great! I get to concentrate on making theatre. I’m stuck in between, and being in between is very uncomfortable.

One of my daughters is involved in many school activities, and she is applying for a place at a prestigious university, and she is applying for tons of scholarships, and I’m helping with all of it. The application deadline is fast approaching, and we’re scrambling to get it all in by that deadline. Also, I’m coaching her for her interview for the prestigious university. The interview is not an easy one. There are reading assignments in her field.

That’s a bit about my stress.

Do you have strategies that have proved effective for handling stress in your life?

Please, tell me what works in your life to manage stress. I don’t need to hear about reducing my activities. These are things that have to happen.

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31 Answers

pleiades's avatar

When I was doing school, band, gf, work the best thing I could do was to just lower my head, and keep on trucking!

Compartmentalism is the best approach I’ve found. That and a ton of positivity. You can do it! This is your life you’re in control!

Judi's avatar

I do much better with stress when I’m in a daily exercise program and when I’m doing yoga. Managing my diet helps too.

dougiedawg's avatar

Exercise and practice sitting still and breathing slowly as often as you can. Helps!

Pachy's avatar

Junk food and old movies.

hearkat's avatar

Being in limbo is the most disconcerting type of stress for me; so I can understand how unnerving this situation is for you.

When I get overwhelmed, it helps me to prioritize the things that need my attention, and to determine which things are completely out of my hands and thus only sap my ability to focus on the things that I can do something about.

For example, whether or not you get the job is out of your hands, so you want to try to push it from your mind so as not to let preoccupation with all the potential ‘what-ifs’ distract you from the task at hand. However, if someone contacts you and says you need to get fingerprinted for a background check, it suddenly becomes top priority, and you have to shift focus quickly. Similarly, the situation with your daughter you can compartmentalize to give it your full attention when you scheduled to be working on that with her.

Therefore, time management and having scheduled blocks of the day or week for each concern is what I would do in your scenario. I’d rely a lot on my smartphone calendar and to-do lists to help me keep track of things and remind me what needs to be done when. Also try to schedule some decompression time when you can let your mind go and be unfocused for a while.

janbb's avatar

Hot baths, long walks and productive time in bed – reading.

johnpowell's avatar

When I get overwhelmed I get nothing done unless I start with the easy stuff so I can claim progress in my mind. That tends to provide the lube for the horrible shit. Pun Intended!

jca's avatar

I’ll talk to myself about why I’m stressed out and try to come up with reasons why it’s not as stressful as I’m making it out to be. For example, what I’m doing to better the situation, what’s changing, etc.

Cruiser's avatar

Exercise, exercise and more exercise. Even just a brisk 30 minute walk every day is sooooo beneficial to ridding the stress buildup.

Also learn to Belly Breathe. Most people especially men breathe through the expansion and contraction of the chest. This coupled with being wound up like a top keeps the stress in our shoulders and neck. Belly breathing will help you relax and discharge a ton of stress when you take 5 minutes to belly breathe. Also look in the mirror and take note of your shoulders. Then see how much farther you can lower them. This is a barometer of how wound up you are. Take a deep belly breath….lower your shoulders as far as you can and exhale. Now notice how much more relaxed you are.

Finally, nothing peels away the layers of stress better than meditation.

Good luck on the job opportunity….keep us posted!

dabbler's avatar

@johnpowell Brilliant: “start with the easy stuff so I can claim progress in my mind” couldn’t have said it better. If you’re stuck, that approach can be a genuine icebreaker.

I second all the advice to use your breathing to calm and focus your mind.
Best of luck, sounds like you are ‘cursed’ with plenty right now, enjoy it as much as you can.

ragingloli's avatar


Aethelwine's avatar

Get the sleep your body needs each night. This is what helps me. I need at least 7½ to 8 hours to feel completely rested and it helps to reduce stress in my life.

marinelife's avatar

Taking a few minutes to spend time in nature not thinking about my current stresses hellps me. It puts my life and troubles into perspective.

Taking time for a cup of chamomile tea or a hot bath are also helpful.

Yoga breathing.

janbb's avatar

“Get the sleep your body needs each night. This is what helps me. I need at least 7½ to 8 hours to feel completely rested and it helps to reduce stress in my life.”

If only! I got 4 hours sleep last night – with meds!

Aethelwine's avatar

@janbb I hear you penguin. I slept for about 5 hours last night and I need to drive 120 miles on a busy two-lane highway in the flooding rain that is melting all this snow. I’m stressed just thinking about it! There isn’t enough coffee for me today. (this highway has a bunch of roadside memorials. I hate it.)

cookieman's avatar

• Lots of sleep
• As much alone-time as I can get
• Good music

thorninmud's avatar

The first thing is to recognize the body’s stress response as an ally. That’s very counter-intuitive and flies in the face of accepted “wisdom” about how harmful stress is, but some recent research has found that the harm associated with stress comes not from the stress itself, but from the anxiety of believing the stress to be harmful. So look at the stress response not as something that is working against you, but as your body’s way of gearing up for action. You avoid creating an anxiety that’s both harmful and distracting.

Then narrow the scope of your concern to the matter that you’re dealing with at the moment. This is an attention problem. Part of what makes situations like yours overwhelming is that while you’re dealing with one thing, you’re simultaneously worrying about the others. That keeps you from bringing the full force of your energies to bear on the only problem that you can actually do something about: the one in front of you. With your attention divided, it takes you longer to do things, and you don’t do them as well, so stuff stacks up and new problems are created.

And one last, very important thing: Learn to get your ego out of the way. So much of the anxiety associated with stressful situations is generated by concern over maintaining our self-image and how we’re seen by others. If you can look honestly at situations and identify the ways you’re worrying about image, you may find that you can let go of some of that. Things will be much easier if you can.

Cruiser's avatar

@marinelife I like the hot bath and chamomile tea routine too!

glacial's avatar

In my life, dealing with stress is always about two things: acting in situations where I have control, and letting go in situations where I have none. Because it seems to me that pretty much all stress comes from not being able to do what you want to when you want to.

Regarding the job, remind yourself as often as you need to that you shouldn’t be feeling stress over situations that you have no control over. Ask yourself what part of the slowness of the hiring process is causing you stress. Are you just impatient? Are you afraid it will fall through? If it is a fear of losing the opportunity, then make yourself a backup plan and a deadline by which you will act on it. And then ignore it. Seriously, ignore it. There is nothing you can do to control other peoples’ actions, so let that go.

I also strongly recommend allowing your daughter to bear the burden of stress for her own responsibilities. I’m not sure why you mentioned her “school activities” here as part of your own stress. If she is about to graduate high school, the only stress you should be experiencing due to her school activities is in finding time to attend.

I commend you for wanting to help her through the admissions process, and I agree that you should apportion some time for that, but if you are doing her reading assignments for this, I think that you are too involved. It would be a terrific gift if it were not taking away from your quality of life or your other responsibilities, but it sounds like it is doing exactly that. Let her take the lead on these things. She is fully capable of doing the work and of making decisions that will determine her future. If she weren’t, she wouldn’t deserve a place in university anyway. And you know she does.

Again, the reason that I say this is that you are having trouble coping. Put your own oxygen mask on first. You need to make sure that you are strong for her to come to if there should actually be trouble down the line.

And finally, the theatrical production. Hey! This is your wheelhouse, this is the thing you love to do most of all, isn’t it? Why aren’t you letting yourself enjoy it? When you feel the stress of leadership creeping up on you, take a moment – literally, stop and think about it – to realize how lucky you are to be there. How lucky you are that your hard work has been rewarded by such a great position. That is amazing.

Anyway. I know you asked for “not recommendations” and recommendations are exactly what I’ve given you. But this is how I would take my own stress management techniques and apply them to your situation. I don’t expect you to actually do anything less than what you want to do. Because to do otherwise would only increase your stress. ;)

Good luck!

Coloma's avatar

Walking ( exercise ), plenty of rest, healthy eating. However, I have been struggling with extreme stress this year and for every month I follow healthy practices there is a month when I don’t. I just came off a 6 week “bender” of walking and healthy coping strategies but this last 2 weeks has me back to eating more junk again, not walking ( partly due to weather, partly due to some depression ) and having a few drinks or a little herbal essence.
Everyone knows what they “should” be doing, it’s just a matter of doing it.

Right now I am not shoulding on myself, I accept the ups and downs and pass no judgement on myself.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

This is all really good stuff. Thank you, all. (Keep it coming.)

Coloma's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake Mindfulness too. Because our thoughts do create our feelings. I realized the other day that my first thoughts upon waking lately are negative. I try to catch them first thing and reprogram. Man, self awareness is hard, but even one catch a day can bring us back to a more centered place.

snowberry's avatar

I pray. A lot. It helps.

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t suffer from stress; I’m a carrier.

pleiades's avatar

@Judi Definitely the diet too! Eat good=Feel good (Eating bad foods=feeling guilty for me)

gailcalled's avatar

I just learned I need a root canal. So I came home from the dentist’s, had two T’s of ice cream and got on the treadmill for 30 minutes. Now I am thinking about a short nap (or a long one).

The best antidepressant arrived today with 41˚ F weather.

Paradox25's avatar

I was considering relocating myself since it is becoming more difficult for me to find work in the field that I went to school for, and I’m sick of working at multi-craft jobs that pay very low. I usually get offers for interviews from out of state in my line of work, and I’ve been considering it. Hopefully the decision I do make concerning my career will lower my stress.

I also find that the majority of my stress unfortunately comes from being around most other people, no matter how much I try to listen to cheery extroverts telling me that being around as many different types of people as possible would make me happier. Generally stress relief for me is simply spending time by myself. I also find the internet to be stressful too, especially when you realize there are so many people who disagree with you about issues that you’re very passionate about and concern you. Taking breaks from debating other people online, and staying away from websites and blogs that discuss trigger issues for me sometimes helps me lower my stress too.

Taking a hot shower helps, and so does getting a massage once in a while. I like ear candling too since there’s something about the heat going through my sinuses that helps to relax me too. Spending some time with certain people that I trust can be enjoyable for me too, and helps to lower stress. Reading books and playing chess helps me as well.

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Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I think I taught myself to cope with stress at such an early age, that I don’t even know how I do it. I just refuse to think about certain things if they stress me out. I convince myself that all will be fine. If there is anything I can do to resolve the problem, I will get right on that. If not, well, I tune it out, I guess. It is a life skill that, sadly, is a vanishing art, as my kids and grandkids just run to a doctor for anti-anxiety meds. To me, that is such a cop-out. Pills will never replace coping skills.

Blondesjon's avatar

Marijuana and non-Finnish Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff.

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