Tips for Coping With Stress
from the 2008 Women T.A.L.K. Survey
The National Women’s Health Resource Center’s 2008 Women T.A.L.K. survey found that 42% of women say their health has gotten worse in the past five years and stress was the most commonly cited reason (53%). Not all stress is bad, but when it flames out of control, it can take a terrible toll on your physical and emotional health, as well as on relationships. Following are some tips and practices that can help keep you from becoming overwhelmed or overanxious:
- Eat a balanced, nutritious diet. Eating well, getting enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and junk food can help strengthen your immune system and your stress resistance.
- Exercise regularly because exercise promotes emotional well-being as well as physical fitness.
- Schedule your time more effectively using a calendar and to-do lists, prioritizing activities and realizing you can’t do everything. And, schedule a few minutes for yourself each day.
- Learn how to say no to requests that add extra burdens and can wreak havoc on your day.
- Insist on help with regular chores.
- Balance work and play by planning time for hobbies and recreation—activities that relax your mind and take you away from stressors temporarily.
- Practice relaxation exercises—like deep breathing or meditation—for just a few minutes each day.
- Rehearse for stressful events. Imagine yourself feeling calm and confident when anticipating a stressful situation. You will be able to relax more easily when the situation arises.
- Let yourself laugh and cry. Laughter makes your muscles go limp and releases tension, so try to keep a sense of humor. Tears can help cleanse the body of substances that accumulate under stress.
- Talk out troubles. It sometimes helps to talk with a friend, relative or member of the clergy. Another person can help you see a problem from a different point of view.
- Help others. Because we concentrate on ourselves when we’re distressed, sometimes helping others is the perfect remedy for letting go of whatever is troubling us.
- Learn to accept a difficult problem that is out of your control, which is better than endlessly worrying about it without results.
- Develop and maintain a positive attitude. View changes as positive challenges, opportunities or blessings.
Not every women needs to do all of these things. Some approaches may work for some people and others for other people. The key is to use the ones that work for you, and keep in mind that some of these become more effective with practice. Also, if stress starts making you feel especially overwhelmed and unable to cope, seek help from a professional trained to help.
© 2008 National Women’s Health Resource Center, Inc. (NWHRC) All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the NWHRC. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: www.healthywomen.org.