It’s that time of year again…school is in full swing for the kids and major holidays are upon us. In addition, if you are an entrepreneur, there are only a couple of months left for that end of the year sales push. What does this mean? STRESS.  Anxiety reaches a whole new level and the feeling of being overloaded takes over.

WebMD describes stress as “… a part of life, a normal response to demands either emotional, intellectual, or physical. It can be positive if it keeps us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. It can be negative if it becomes chronic, increasing the risk of diseases like depression, heart disease and a variety of other problems.” Symptoms of stress often involve headaches, indigestion, tiredness, muscle tension, and various other warning signs.

Stress should be taken seriously. If it is not controlled, stress can be lead to an abnormal physical state and/or behavior that can be detrimental to your health. The first step to controlling stress is to try to identify the source. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it temporary or long term?
  • When do I feel the most stress?
  • Is it caused by an outside source (event or person)?
  • Is the stress self-induced (i.e. fear)?

Once you have identified the source of your stress, you try to manage it. Stress management comes in many different forms or methods, but the following are my favorites.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

This quote, made famous by author Richard Carlson, probably sums up the source for the average person’s stress. We can’t control every single aspect of our lives. There are some situations (or people) that we have to let go of and pray that it will all just work out on its own.  You must choose your battles.

Meditation

I prefer the Guided Meditation method. I sit in a quiet room, close my eyes and imagine my “happy” place or any other situation that I find relaxing. There are also other forms of meditation such as Mantra or Tai Chi.

Exercise

Not only will your mental health improve, you may also hit that conquer that pesky New Year Resolution of exercising more. A quiet stroll through the neighborhood, shooting a few hoops, or lifting weights can work wonders.  My favorite activity is hitting a punching bag a few dozen times (the portables ones are reasonably priced and PERFECT for this).

Social Support

Get out and enjoy yourself! Visit family or catch a new movie with a friend. Take yourself out to a lounge or a museum; you may even make a new friend.

For more information on stress and stress management, check out the following articles:

Stress management: Identify your sources of stress
http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/library/stress-management/SR00031.html

23 Scientifically-Backed Ways To Reduce Stress Right Now
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/17/reduce-stress-research_n_2884876.html

Meditation: A Simple, Fast Way to Reduce Stress
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meditation/HQ01070

7 Ways to Relieve Stress in Under an Hour
http://www.oprah.com/health/Fast-Stress-Relief-Calm-Down-Quickly