Cooling Stress Tips: Do You Feel A Lot Of Inner Pressure You Can’t Really Define?

By Judi Light Hopson Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Judi Light Hopson, author of the stress management book, "Cooling Stress Tips" shares some concrete steps you can take to help ease your anxiety.

Tribune News Service

Today's topic: Anxiety.

You might feel very uneasy as you go about your daily business. Or, when you try to sleep, you toss and turn all night. What you're experiencing is anxiety. This feeling occurs when all of your problems are running together.

To reverse anxiety, these tips can help:

-Clearly define your issues as separate problems. Don't lump everything together.

-Buy a notebook. Use abbreviations and your own shorthand to list your problems individually. But make sure others can't easily read your private notes.

-Come up with three small steps to reverse each problem. For example, if you want to lose weight, decide that you will reduce your calories, exercise more, and reduce your sugar intake.

Anxiety will subside when you figure out plausible decisions that will help you regain control.

"I was very distraught when my auto repair business, which I started ten years ago, started failing," says a man I'll call Dustin. "I didn't sleep for a week, but I finally got a coping plan together."

Dustin's uncle helped him define six steps he could take to reverse the lack of customers. When more customers started showing up, Dustin kept adding ideas to the new plan.

"I saw that my employees were very creative people when they started coming into my office with unique advertising ideas," Dustin explains. "My anxiety went down as their enthusiasm went up."

All of us, without exception, will come up with better ideas if we feel positive and creative.

Reducing anxiety, however, does require facing the truth about a problem very squarely.

For example, a woman I'll call Alisha says she and her husband knew he might get laid off from his job.

"We went into high gear just in case this happened," says Alisha. "We started making a contingency plan. Instead of planning for losing income, we made a plan to chisel down debt, which felt more empowering."

Alisha says she and her husband sold off some property they didn't need, sold a boat they seldom used, and used savings to pay off credit cards.

Ultimately, her husband did lose his job. However, he had already started looking for another, so the family coped very well, according to Alisha.

We each can reduce our stress levels when we figure out a plan of action. Stress escalates when we can't envision any way to cope.

To find good coping techniques, find a quiet place to reflect and come up with small actions to reverse the pain. These strategies can pay off:

-Think about finding a mentor. Look hard for a friend, business associate, or professional person in your circle who can offer advice.

-Spend "worry time" figuring out productive steps. Don't waste time feeling anxiety. Instead, do some research and make some phone calls.

-Pretend you're solving a problem for someone else. This helps you remain more logical and less emotional.

Be sure to work on your top three problems first. It's easy to get caught up in worrying over small issues, such as an annoying person at work, rather than dwelling on critical concerns.

Keep in mind that big problems will grow bigger, if you fail to come up with coping mechanisms. Challenge yourself to chisel away at a problem by doing small actions each and every day.

Reward yourself for your efforts. As you work through your issues, take some time off for a movie, dinner with a friend, or a weekend trip. __ (Judi Light Hopson is author of the stress management book, "Cooling Stress Tips." She is also executive director of USA Wellness Cafe at http://www.usawellnesscafe.org/) ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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