I designed the Let’s De-Stress Sticker Set to help you more effectively manage your life stress, based on what the both the research and my experience working with stressed clients suggests will help you the most. Before you start to use these with your Life Planner or with a calendar that you may have, please read my post: Some Tips for Using Wellness Planner Stickers. It contains some helpful Dos and Don’ts that will make a big difference in the results you will see using them! If you begin doing ALL the things that are helpful to manage stress at one time, you will likely become even MORE stressed…not exactly what you want to do. Start low and go slow and you’ll get this.
The first thing to remember about stress is that it is actually a good thing to have in your life. Good? Yes! Stress means that you’re alive. Stress means that you’re aware of what’s going on around you and you’re capable of responding. And stress means you have an opportunity to learn and grow. In case you think that’s me being all therapist-glass-half-full, which of course I am, I am also right. Not all stress is bad. The kind that feels completely overwhelming and that we have no coping skills to deal with is not so good and we call that Distress. But stress that we feel we can respond to and grow from, even if it’s uncomfortable, is good for us and is called Eustress.
Without at least some stress in our lives, our nervous systems become dull and depressed and we stop learning new ways of coping that allow us to challenge ourselves and become healthier. So, we don’t actually want to get rid of stress. What we want to do is learn how to manage it so we feel capable of perceiving it and responding to it without feeling overwhelmed. And we know from hundreds of psychological and biological studies exactly what we humans need to do in order to manage stress more effectively.
What I hope to do with this sticker set for your Life Planner is help you, coping skill by coping skill, become more resilient to life stress and able to manage it more easily. Here’s what we know you need to be doing on a weekly basis to manage your stress in a healthy way. If you’re already doing some or most of these, that’s great…keep it going! If you’re not doing any of these consistently, you can use your Life Planner to get one going at a time until eventually these are all just regular life habits. The difference between life with and without them is tremendous.
Here are the most important skills you need to manage stress and why they are important. And no need to stress…there’s a sticker to help you begin to incorporate each one into your life one at a time!
Healthy coping skills to manage life stress:
Eat healthy: Eating foods that fight inflammation can help you manage stress
Just breathe: Regular deep breathing exercises will help you be more stress-resilient
Self-care time: Spending time each week taking care of yourself fills your own well
Get active: Regular exercise relieves stress and improves your mood
Get outside: Spending time in nature has multiple mental and physical health benefits
Additional helpful stress-management practices:
Gratitude: Focusing on what you’re grateful for changes your perspective
Stress-busters: Practicing proven methods to prevent stress is a smart way to manage stress
The Let’s De-Stress Sticker Set comes with inspirational quotes to remind you of what’s important and help you change your thought process as you deal with life stress.
The stickers for developing and maintaining the essential stress-managment habits of eating healthy, breathing, taking care of yourself, exercising, and spending time in nature are best if used to build toward mastery one habit at a time. If you’re not used to doing these weekly already, don’t start trying to fit them all in at once. That’s a recipe for overwhelm! Just pick one and work toward the goal of doing this weekly until you’ve accomplished this and it feels like a regular habit. Then start with another one, keeping that first one going, too. This can take weeks to months, sometimes years to get really good at. Remember progress, not perfection, is the goal.
Your gratitude practice and stress-buster reminder stickers can be put into your week either on a regular basis or when you know you will need them the most, given your life stress.
The “today I can” stickers are for you to practice changing the way you speak to yourself about things you want to do. Instead of saying “I need to”, or “I ought to”, or “I should” be doing something, you are going to learn how to replace that with “I can…and I have a choice.” So, instead of “Today I should exercise”, these stickers can be used to remind yourself to say “Today I can exercise…and I have a choice.” You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. And you always have a choice.
Consider using the star stickers to reward yourself for any progress made towards a goal. Habits are hard to change. That means bad habits are hard to break and good habits are hard to get established. If you are able to make any progress at all, give yourself a star…just like when you were a kid. There’s still a kid in you who I hope will appreciate that acknowledgement of the hard work it takes to make change happen!
There’s a sticker to color, because coloring is a great stress-buster! So take a few minutes to bring a little color to your life!
Remember that to get to the point where you are regularly practicing all of these habits to manage your stress, it could take months to years. That’s normal and quite reasonable, particularly given how much else you likely have going on in your life. But working to establish even one of these habits this year is a great goal to work towards and will have mental health and physical health benefits for you not just this year, but for years to come.
I will be writing more about each of the coping skills listed above and how to get them established using your Life Planner in future blog posts, with some specific examples to help you be successful. So please stay tuned and check in frequently or follow me on my facebook page or on twitter where I’ll let you know when they post!