Managing Stress!!!
Stress is actually a wonderful thing – believe it or not we need it. The challenge is we need it in amounts that we can manage, and that is different for everyone. So…. Here are four KEYS, to help you pay attention to and manage your stress.

Step 1: Know and recognize your “SYMPTOMS” of stress
Are your symptoms of the physical kind?
• Headaches
• Stomach aches or pains
• Changes in sleep patterns i.e. you sleep too much, or you can’t get to sleep, or you can’t stay asleep
• Changes in eating habits i.e. you can’t eat anything, or you “tilt the fridge” or you eat junk!
• Twitching eyes (that’s what happens to me :))
Are your symptoms more emotional?
• You cry easily
• You have a short fuse and start snapping at others
• You feel angry or impatient
• You feel anxious and unsettled
Do your symptoms show up in lifestyle changes?
• “aholic…. Workaholic, Shopaholic, Alcoholic, Exerciseaholic
• Withdrawal from others
• Overcommitting

You may have other symptoms I haven’t listed here, and the important thing is to recognize them – notice them and don’t ignore them – they are a clue for you to pay attention! They are a clue that your stress is winning! They are a clue that it’s time to take action!

Step 2: Identify your “CAUSES” of Stress
• Be honest with yourself here
• And don’t blame “other people” – that doesn’t help.
• Honestly identifying the causes of your stress will help you decide what actions may be best to take

Often we are our own worst enemy, creating busy lives, letting things slide, doing things we don’t really like, and not staying on top of what’s most important to us. Take responsibility for what’s yours.

Step 3: Take “ACTION”
• Look for what you control (you’d be surprised – it’s a lot!)
• Consider how you may be able to influence others and/or events
• Do something! i.e. if you’re procrastinating – just start – even if you just start that’s better than not doing anything
• Recognize that you do have the ability to say “no”
• Be prepared to ask for what you need and want
• Be prepared to negotiate

Step 4: “TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF”
• call a friend – walk the dog – walk – do exercise that you enjoy – get a massage – read a book – paint a picture – take dance lessons – just dance – colour – get a manicure – laugh – meditate – do something nice for someone else – volunteer – get excited about something that matters to you – keep things in perspective – learn something new – remind yourself of what you already know – trust yourself – eat sensibly – keep a journal – ask for help – get help – express your feelings – have some fun! And know – you will get through it.

Life is a messy and wonderful journey! Enjoy the adventure!