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Positive Approaches to Daily Stressors by Sally Rudnick

In today’s ever demanding life, people are forced to manage an overwhelming amount of daily stressors. Because of this, they can sometimes turn towards negative ways of coping such as overworking themselves, using substances or food to cope or repeatedly choosing negative behaviors that disrupt one’s life. Here are a handful of positive, healthy and self-nurturing ways to help manage stress.

Support Systems

A support system is a network of people — oftentimes made up of friends, family and colleagues — that offer consistent, productive and positive support. A support system helps individuals know they are not alone and that they have others they can count on in a time of need. Support systems provide a real sense of security during difficult times.

Hobbies

Many times people shrug at the idea of finding a hobby, thinking it too simple an idea to really be helpful. But the truth is that once they find an activity they enjoy, it is amazing how engaged and happy they become. And there are so many hobbies to choose from, such as hiking, knitting, stamp collecting, bird watching, ceramics, biking, game nights, rollerblading, book club and quilting. One of the great benefits of a hobby is that people often come into contact with others who have similar interests which often leads to an increase in a person’s support network.

Exercise

Exercise is a powerful, positive coping mechanism because it not only gets a person up and moving, but it also releases endorphins in the brain that can lead to good feelings. Moving the body releases the negative energy, the stress, the frustration, the anger from the body. Physical exercise gives people a chance to take a break which can help them think more clearly. It also makes them feel better and more energetic which can lead to better decision making and a better way of life.

Participation

Participation is a key factor in keeping individuals engaged and connected to their surroundings. One of the driving forces towards negative coping is isolation. Isolation does not allow room for constructive thinking or outside support. When people isolate they can feel quite lost inside their own negative thoughts and behaviors with little hope for change. For this reason, it is imperative to go out and be among positive people, places and activities. Once people are out in their communities, participating and engaged, they often see that there are promising options available to them. It is important to note that isolation is different from spending some time alone for positive self-reflection and rejuvenating down-time.

Slowing Down

Even though we live in a world that seems to be moving at the speed of light, it does not mean that we need to move at the speed of light. While it is true that people must meet their deadlines at work and take their children to soccer practice, we still can make a choice to slow down. Just because our phone chimes does not mean we must jump to answer it. Just because we can microwave our meals does not mean we can’t take the time to make a meal with fresh ingredients, even if it is just once or twice a week. In other words, it is important to be able to say no to an over demanding life. Slowing down gives people the opportunity to enjoy not only themselves, but their families and friends as well.

Positive Thinking

Negative thinking seems to become a conditioned response for many people. It can include judging others, comparing what one person has to another or acting or behaving in a negative, non-supportive way. A simple way to decrease the negative is through positive thinking. One of the ways to do this is by ending each day thinking about the positives that occurred throughout the day. Even during very difficult days, it is important to take inventory and see the positive. Even the smallest acts count such as the smile from the person who served your coffee at the deli. It may seem like an insignificant act however once people start looking and acknowledging the positive — both big and small — their mindsets begin to shift. They no longer focus on the negative but are quick to find the positive.

Sally Rudnick is a licensed clinical social worker with a practice in Warwick. She can be reached at 917-656-9439 or at sally_rudnick@yahoo.com.

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