OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Lifestyle Changes for More Effective Stress Management

  1. Seek your own optimum stress level. Strive for excellence within your limits.
  2. Choose your own goals. Do not live out choices others have made for you.
  3. Become part of a support system. Look out for yourself by letting friends help you when you are under too much stress. Likewise, help friends when they feel overloaded.
  4. Think positively. Your mind sends signals to your body to prepare for danger whenever you think about possible negative outcomes. Hence, you become tense regardless of whether or not the event happens. Train yourself to think positively, even when faced with adversity. For example, "it seems awful right now, but it will work out in the end” is a positive thought.
  5. Make decisions. You can learn to live with the consequences or you can change your mind. Any decision -- even consciously deciding to do nothing -- is better than no decision.
  6. Accept what you cannot change. If a problem is beyond your control, you are better off accepting it for now than spinning your wheels.
  7. Anticipate potentially stressful situations and prepare for them. Decide whether the situation is one you should deal with, postpone, or avoid. If you decide to deal with the situation, practice what you will say and do, before you actually do it.
  8. Try to keep your perspective. This is admittedly an arduous task when it feels as if the entire world is about to cave in. Ask yourself: Will it matter in ten years?
  9. Manage your time. Prioritizing and planning can keep the demands of school from becoming overwhelming.
  10. Take care of your health. Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and avoid alcohol and other mood-altering drugs.
  11. Take time for yourself. Make yourself your priority. Find time to relax -- even if only for a few minutes -- every day.
  12. Break down a stressor into manageable components. More often than not, problems that seem huge and unwieldy are quite manageable when looked at as a series of smaller tasks. For example, the thought of doing a dissertation may seem overwhelming. When broken down into small steps it may seem much more do-able.
  13. Avoid comparing yourself to others. When you are stressed or upset, everyone else may seem smarter, more organized, more directed, and more talented than you are. You have to remind yourself that stress can play tricks on your mind and that just because there are a lot of talented people, it does not mean that you are a stupid, clumsy clod.
  14. Learn to plan. Disorganization can breed stress. Being able to do long and short term planning gives a sense of control over your life. Many people benefit from making daily to-do lists, prioritizing the items, and doing them in order.
  15. Keep your expectations realistic. You are not now, and will never be perfect. Accept your own strengths and limits and work within them. Expect some problems reaching your goals and realize that you can solve most of them with perseverance.
  16. Avoid unnecessary competition. There are many competitive situations in life that we cannot avoid. Too much concern with winning in too many areas of life can create excessive tension and anxiety, and make one unnecessarily aggressive.
  17. Be a positive person. Avoid criticizing others. Learn to praise the things you like in others. Focus upon the good qualities those around you possess. Learn to do this for yourself also. Notice your own good qualities and reward yourself for improvements (even small ones).
  18. Learn to tolerate and forgive. Intolerance of others leads to frustration and anger. An attempt to understand the way other people feel can make you more accepting of them, and hence, less stressed.
  19. Exercise regularly.
  20. Have fun. You need occasionally to escape from the pressures of life and have fun. Find pastimes that are absorbing and enjoyable to you, no matter your level of ability.

 

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