Why not learn to manage stress effectively? Then we—parents and other adults—can teach and model stress management to and for our children.
Managing stress is something we do every day, yet learning to manage it well is omitted from the more formal training we all receive in other areas of our lives, such as training for our jobs or being taught the core subjects in school.
Recent research suggests that at least four trainable skill sets are available to help people manage stress healthfully. These four competencies include:
- Source management: Manage stress by reducing, or eliminating all together, the sources of stress. Source management can be proactive or reactive. Practices such as delegating tasks, scheduling your time well, and organizing your space would be part of developing skills in source management.
- Relaxation: Develop a skill for tapping the relaxation response. Practice breathing exercises or commit to a practice of meditation.
- Managing thoughts: Correct irrational thinking and choose to interpret events in ways that are beneficial to you.
- Prevention: Plan ahead so you can conduct your life in a way to avoid stressors.
A new study has found that prevention is the most helpful of these skills to develop when it comes to stress management. Prevention includes proactively planning your day or year and making every effort to avoid stressors before they can affect you.
The new study suggests specific strategies for preventing stress before it strikes. Here are six strategies to help you stop stress in its tracks:
- Take a few minutes each day to identify what is stressful in your life. What stresses can you reduce or eliminate? For example, if your phone is stressing you out because the battery keeps depleting too quickly, get a new battery or a new phone. If traffic jams stress you out, make a schedule adjustment to avoid traveling at high-traffic times of the day.
- Commit to using positive, healthy ways to manage your stress. Are your options a yoga class or one too many drinks after work? Choose the yoga class.
- Keep lists. People who keep lists of things to do really do get more done, and when they leave the grocery store, they leave with everything on their list . . . the first time.
- Proactively practice stress management skills such as exercise, thought management, and relaxation techniques. Through practice and preparation, you will be better able to handle the stresses that come your way.
- Plan a little. Take a few minutes every morning to plan your day. By planning, you will waste less time in the long run, get more done, and feel less stressed.
- Plan a lot. When you plan your future, you feel more control over your life, which results in less stress.
If we adults can learn skills to manage stress, we can model them and educate our children early in life. Stress management is trainable and beneficial.