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The Importance of Managing Stress

By Susan Croft

Stress can affect your ability to think clearly and rationally and to perform well.  Extreme stress can lead to heart disease, stroke, and is also associated with some cancers.  All of these are very good reasons to find ways to cope with it.  Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional equilibrium as well.

It may seem like there’s nothing you can do about stress. The bills won’t stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day, and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control than you might think.

Effective stress management helps you break the hold stress has on your life, so you can be happier, healthier, and more productive. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun—and the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on. But stress management is not one-size-fits-all. That’s why it’s important to experiment and find out what works best for you. The following 5 stress management tips can help you do that.

  1. Learn to Say No

If you have been brought up like me, you have probably been told to be helpful and accommodating to people.  This means we often accept extra work when we are already overloaded.  You must learn to say NO once in a while.  You can suggest alternatives or ask for time to reflect, but you should not always be raising your hand and accepting new assignments.

  1. Seek Support

It’s also important to acknowledge to yourself when you feel under stress and then seek support.  There should be no stigma attached to stress as we all feel it at some point.

  1. Find Balance

I would have to say that if you have a busy job, family commitments, and outside interests, it is probably not possible to have an ideal work/life balance all the time. But if you never find balance it is time to take action.  Remember that you have choices, and sometimes you need to focus more on work, and sometimes on dedicating time for yourself and your family.  This is also called ‘tilting’, where you choose where to lean depending on your workload and personal commitments.  Remember if you are stressed and out of balance most of the time, you are of no use to anyone let alone yourself!

  1. Be Grateful

This is something I have found to be very useful in stress management and it’s identifying every day small things for which you are grateful.  It may be somebody paying you a compliment, noticing the changing of the seasons, being greeted by your dog when you walk through the door, or hearing from an old friend.  If we can focus on the good stuff in life – things that please and energize us – it really does alleviate stress.

  1. Take a Breath

When you are experiencing a stressful event, take a minute to breathe.  Here’s a useful formula:  Breathe through your nose for the count of 4, hold your breath for the count of 4 and exhale through your mouth for the count of 4. Do this 3 or 4 times – it really does work.

Good luck in managing stress and remember that ultimately, you are in charge of your own life!


Susan Croft
BA, PMP, APR, NLP

Susan is a global sales, business development, and leadership trainer with IIL. She is a qualified coach and has worked with hundreds of people going through life changes and challenging situations.  She has earned her PMP accreditation and is an accredited PMI instructor and experienced virtual trainer.

Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.

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