University of Illinois Extension

Beating the Stress Monster

Cammy Seguin, Family Life Educator

It doesn't take much for the stress monster to rear its ugly head. If worries and pressures have been building up, sometimes it just takes an innocent question like, "What's for dinner?" to make you explode.

When you feel stress building up - your head is pounding, your shoulders are tight, you just want to run away from everything - stop and slowly take deep breaths or count to ten. Often that will take the edge off the explosive feelings.

Over the long term, it is important to recognize sources of your stress and learn to deal with them as best you can. Here are some ways to combat stress:

  • Know when to take control and when to let it go. Sometimes we worry about things that we have no control over. Save your strength for dealing with things you can control.
  • Seek solutions to problems. Who can help you deal with this issue?
  • View mistakes as opportunities to learn.
  • Avoid isolation. Feeling connected to others can reduce stress.
  • Give yourself credit for the good things that happen. Stop blaming yourself for the problems brought on by others. Learn to delegate tasks at home, at work, and with friends. You are not the only one who can do it "right."
  • Learn to pace yourself. Determine what is needed in your life and then begin to balance work with love, pleasure, and relaxation. Make balance a priority.
  • Take care of YOU. Take care of yourself nutritionally, and get plenty of rest. Keep your doctors' appointments. Remember that exercise reduces stress.
  • Keep a sense of humor. Gloom will drag down your spirit. Find chances to laugh.
  • Train yourself to see the positive. For example, at least you know that your grandchildren are loved and safe in your care.

Remember, you can manage stress. You just have to try. Begin by listing some of the stressors that you are facing. Pick one to work on first. What are some possible solutions? What are your concerns? Pick a solution and see how it works. If it isn't working after a while, try something else. Keep in mind that even if you can't change the circumstances, you can change how you look at the problem. And, this may be all you can do.