1: Everyone has to live with stress. Some have more. Some have less. Stressful situations may be imposed on us, but we also create or feed our own stress. For a few, the wiring of their brains presents an additional obstacle to dealing with stress, in which case medication and psychotherapy may be necessary.
2: Everyone has different methods of dealing with stress—positive ways (meditation, religion, art, work, helping others, therapy, etc.) or negative ways (drugs, alcohol, obsessive behaviors, violence, depression, etc.).
3: The biggest mistake you can make when confronted with stress is to let the enormity of the situation overwhelm you. If you focus on the whole, you will be fearful and paralyzed. Or you may become angry and lash out at others. You will lose your objectivity and the calm you need to make decisions and allow good things to happen. Instead, break each stressful situation into manageable pieces. Turn on the analytical side of your brain and organize your counter attack. You have to start somewhere, whether it's a work project, a terrible disease or a relationship. Snag a corner and get to work. Eventually the whole will come together but in a less stressful way that allows you to breath and think clearly—maybe even laugh.
4: Stress loves company. One stressful situation invites another. The only way to deal with multiple stressors is to divide and conquer AND avoid sending out the invitations yourself. There are enough stressful situations in your day-to-day life. If your stress load has reached critical mass, you should avoid taking on additional responsibilities that can only add to your load. Learn when to say NO or LATER.
5: Prioritize your stressors. Otherwise, you will just be chasing your tail. Deal with the most important stressors first. Make a decision, a first step, and then move on to the next stressor. Learn to judge when a quick response is necessary or a delay in action may be a benefit. Stressors with definite deadlines should be handled in a timely fashion in order to avoid further stress. On the other hand, some stressors resolve themselves by a little strategic foot dragging.
6: Simplify and organize your life. Clutter and disorganization add to the stress load. Taking on too many tasks, activities, or responsibilities adds to the stress load. Balance.
7: Don't let others stoke the fires of stress. Well, it's easier said than done, but you can't let others negatively influence your ability to handle stress. Be careful who you confide in. Make sure they respect your space. At the same time you should try to be open to mature, intelligent opinions that may be beneficial to you.
8: Take a deep breath and center yourself. This is where the right brain takes over. Go for a walk, meditate, be still and let go. Stop the mind chatter of “what ifs.” Trust the universe. Trust the Divine Spirit. Trust yourself. Give yourself the mental space you need to strengthen yourself so that you can manage stress. Let the right brain provide creative solutions to the problems in your life that are causing stress. Find positive, creative outlets that help siphon off anxiety and depression.
So there it is in a nutshell—my prescription for dealing with stress. Admittedly, the advice is a little cut and dried, like weed whacking, but if you can get the weeds out of the way, it gives that marvelous right-brained magic the opportunity to dance circles around whatever is causing stress in your life, Set yourself free.