Each of us experiences some level of stress daily, both good and bad. How we handle stress and stressors can make a difference in our quality of life. Whether we want to admit it or not, work stress affects our personal life and vice versa; with technology keeping us connected to work 24/7, it can be difficult to cut proverbial work ties and dedicate time to ourselves.

Over the last few years, I learned how stress can affect me personally and professionally. During that time, my career was taking a negative turn and flowing over to my personal life. I learned how to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress, and implement the techniques that follow to reduce it.

Breathe –It sounds simple, but often we forget the benefits of taking a deep breath, holding it for a few seconds, and then slowly exhaling. Doing this several times, while focusing on inhaling and exhaling, helps me to relax and focus my mind.

Meditate – I never thought I would have the ability to concentrate long enough to meditate. Imagine my surprise when I started to meditate and found that, even though my mind does wander, it helps me to relax and reduce stress. I have tried several meditation apps, which all have their benefits; CALM has a variety of programs and is the one I use regularly.

Massage – After a stressful day,  there are few things better than going to the spa to get a massage.  Years ago, the thought of doing this would not have appealed to me.  However, over time I have come to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the spa, the quiet time to focus on myself,  and the massage therapist’s hands working their magic. It adds up to a stress reducing 90 minutes, and the relaxation I feel lasts for several days.

Support – During times of stress, we may tend to avoid the very people that bring us pleasure and support us.   Nonetheless, it is important to maintain relationships and regularly participate in events you enjoy with family and friends. Having a “neutral” party to talk to can help to reduce stress and provide additional needed support.

Quiet Time – We need to balance the time we spend socializing with others and the time we spend relaxing alone– whether reading a book, cooking a meal, or lounging in our pj’s. My personal caveat on this is “I get one day” of quiet time for myself and my friends. This caveat does not exclude taking some alone time each day, but it does set a maximum allowance for quiet time that ensures I maintain a proper work/life balance.

Journal – Write it down!!! I started keeping a journal in the midst of a chaotic career situation and have continued to do so today.  Whether a good day or bad, personally or professionally, journaling helps me to destress by writing down my thoughts. Occasionally, I find myself scrolling through past entries, which serves as a reminder of my good days, my bad days, and how far I have come.

Be Good to Yourself – This is the most important lesson of all. “Be good to yourself” is a reminder to take care of YOU each and every day. By doing something that makes you feel good, you will contribute toward reducing your stress and getting more enjoyment out of each day.

Every person manages stress differently. I have learned through life’s lessons what works best for me.  These stress management techniques help to maintain my composure, concentrate on the tasks at hand, ensure constructive interactions with the people around me, and prioritize the importance of my health.  Find what works best for you–be willing to try new techniques and stay focused on the impact stress reduction can have on you.