Tis the season to be a little (read: A LOT) more stressed than usual (and for many of us, yes, many lovely emotions do come with the Christmas Season package as well).

I read an article recently about stress management and although all of it was really useful, there was one section that stood out for me. It was Stress Management Strategy Number 1: Avoid Unnecessary Stress.

A note before we begin: not all stress can (or should) be avoided – many situations DO need to be actively and responsibly addressed. However, there are, in fact, many stressors in our lives that we CAN do away with.

  1. Learn how to say No. Become aware of, and stick to your limits. Take on the responsibilities you can realistically (emphasis added) handle and say no to the rest.
  1. Avoid people who stress you out – i.e. not always necessary to just grin and bear it (them). If someone consistently causes you stress and upset and the relationship can’t be changed, either limit how much time you spend with the person, or stop seeing them.
  1. Take control of your environment – For example: if traffic makes you tense, take a longer, but less travelled route, take the bus, ride your bike, or walk. If watching the news makes you frustrated and tense, don’t watch it. As a side note I was working with a client one time who said that watching the news just made him really worked up and angry. So I asked him what it would be like to watch the news less. Over that next week he did limit his news watching to 30 minutes and reported back that surprisingly his frustrations went down and his happiness went up. Funny how.
  1. Avoid ‘trigger’ topics (I love this one) – If you get upset when talking about religion or politics, don’t bring them up in conversation. If someone else brings up one of your hot-button topics in a discussion either change the subject or politely excuse yourself and go do something else.
  1. Modify your to-do list – take an honest look at your list of tasks and decipher between the ‘would-like to’s’ and ‘musts’. Drop the less necessary ones to the bottom of your list or take them off completely.

*Please note: All of the above are to be used seasonally. And by seasonally, I mean every season of the year.