Avoiding Roadblocks to Stress Reduction

If you recall your last attempt at losing a few pounds or getting rid of all the clutter in your house, you may recognize that good intentions do not always guarantee success. Usually, you encounter one or two roadblocks. However, being aware of potential obstacles in your path and figuring out ways of avoiding them makes reaching your goal more likely.

Following are some of the more commonly experienced roadblocks and some ways to help you avoid them.

  • I don't have time.
  • I'm too busy.
  • I have too much stuff to learn.
  • It's too much work.
  • It's not my cup of tea.
  • I tried it once and it didn't work.

Each of these excuses contains at least a grain of truth. Nevertheless, each of them can act as a roadblock, slowing or stopping you from getting the most out of your stress management efforts.

Take it a step at a time

Mastering any new skill takes time. The trick is not to tackle everything at once but instead spread your learning out over time. Start slowly. Don't overwhelm yourself. Set aside 15 or 20 minutes in your day and practice a stress reduction method or technique. That time could be during a coffee break, your lunch hour, after work when you come home, or on your way to work in the morning.

Different strokes

No two people are exactly alike. One size rarely fits all. For one person, the picture of ideal relaxation may be lying on a beach in the Caribbean with a page-turner in one hand and a piña colada in the other. For someone else, this scenario may trigger some an eye-rolling "Do I have to?" His or her idea of a relaxing vacation may be visiting every museum that's open. Some people are hares and others are tortoises. What works for one, may not work for the other. The idea of meditating for 20 minutes may not fill you with anticipatory delight. Mental imagery may not be your cup of tea. Fine. The general rule is, if you aren't comfortable with a technique or strategy, you're less likely to use it and make it a part of your life. You need to put together a package of tools that reflects your personality and lifestyle.

Give it a try

A few stress reduction approaches may feel a tad foreign and not immediately comfortable. Yet, with a little getting used to, these techniques are likely to become routine later on. You may not think, for example, that the breathing exercises are "your thing." Yet, you may be pleasantly surprised to find them wonderfully calming and relaxing. Keep an open mind. Give everything at least one good try.

Practice makes perfect

Most methods and techniques require some practice before you can master them. Even though they can be quickly understood at an intellectual level, to truly reap their benefits, you need to spend some time repeating a particular exercise or technique until it has the desired effect. Some techniques can be mastered quickly. Others may take a little more time. Don't give up too easily. Learning to ride a bike, drive a car, and play tennis all take time. Why should learning how to manage the stress in your life be worth a lesser amount of time and effort?

Find a quiet place

You need a place to do all this practicing. Try to find a place that's relatively quiet and relaxing, at least for a short time. Given the realities of your life, your quiet place may have to be a setting that is far from ideal. Your office — when the door is shut — may work for you. It could be your bedroom at home. Or your car, when you're stopped in traffic, or commuting to work.

Get a stress buddy

Doing something by yourself can be hard. Losing weight, going to the gym, stopping smoking are all easier when you do them with a friend. The same holds true for stress management. See if you can interest a friend in joining you. Your stress buddy can make your relaxation tape for you and gently prod you to practice and put your new skills into daily use.

Don't expect overnight results

Let's face it. It took you years to create your stress-producing styles and patterns. Fortunately, changing these patterns takes a lot less time, but it still takes some time. You need to change your behaviors and thinking, and modify your lifestyle and work style. You get there step by step. See yourself as being part of a program that looks at your daily encounters and experiences as opportunities for growth and change.

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