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Make Stress Management a Habit

Your attempts at stress reduction can easily fall victim to the same fate. Staying motivated and finding the time to practice your stress-management skills is not that easy. You may also find that, even though you now have the right tools, you rarely use them.

This common situation is much like belonging to a health club and never going. On most days, especially your busier ones, time flies by, and you don’t consider doing anything that even slightly resembles stress management.

Learn how to avoid many of the pitfalls that often derail your attempts to manage your stress over the long haul. Effective stress management means more than having the right stress-reducing tools and techniques.

Stress management as a daily habit

Stress management means knowing how to balance the pressures and demands in your life with positive satisfactions, personal pleasures, and a lifestyle that insulates you from the negative effects of stress. Learn how to create that balance and how to use these positives to enhance your overall stress resilience.

One of the keys to successful stress management is turning your stress-reducing skills into habits. By integrating some bits of behavior into your daily life, you can reduce your dependence on motivation and pure grit. Think of a habit like brushing your teeth. Rarely do you ask yourself, “Do I feel like brushing my teeth today?” No, you simply brush your teeth.

This behavior — brushing your teeth — has become a habit. You repeat this behavior day in and day out, with little effort or resistance on your part. This is what you need to do with your stress-management behaviors. The following sections provide some suggestions for making stress management a habit — one of your better ones.

Use a “stress dot”

A stress dot is nothing more than a sticker to remind you to keep stress management an active part of your life. Stress dots can be useful tools in triggering your memory. To create a stress dot, look at your local office-supply store for very small circles of brightly colored sticky paper. (About 1⁄8-inch in diameter should do it.)

Or you can make your own stress dots by cutting small circles out of anything with an adhesive back. Place this dot in a strategic spot, so that it becomes a cue or prompt and can signal you to do something stress-relieving.

Here are some places that may work for you:

  • The face of your watch

  • Your watchband

  • Your steering wheel

  • Your refrigerator door

  • Your computer

  • Your keyboard

  • Your e-reader or tablet

  • Your pen

  • Your coffee cup

  • Your cell phone

  • Your television set

  • A light switch

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