Introduction to Stress and Stress Management Techniques:
If you have read our previous posts then you might have already known by now that stress isn’t something bad on its own. It is a healthy emotion which your body produces when you’re facing a threat or are stuck in a tight spot.
But stress can be overwhelming sometimes and you may start fearing it. This is where stress management techniques come into play. The fear of stressing out might worsen your situation even more. It allows your emotions to go wild and out of control making it difficult for you to stay put.
You are affected both mentally and physically. These changes are just the beginning and may take a turn for the worse. Your stress may take the form of a stress disorder when you were busy fearing it.
But do not worry just yet, you can still manage your growing stress before it turns into a stress disorder. There are a few stress management techniques that work effectively to help you manage and reduce your stress level.
These techniques are simple and easy to implement. They do not require you to spend all your time managing your stress. You can practice them anytime and anywhere.
Here’s a list of stress management techniques for you to implement:
A positive Attitude Helps To Manage Stress:
Your attitude matters a lot when it comes to managing your stress levels. A negative attitude towards life, work, and relationships work as a catalyst in speeding up your stress levels.
It fuels your stress hormones, cortisol and your body responds to the increasing number of stress hormones cortisol in the form of pain. All kinds of pain such as neck pain, back pain, stiff shoulders, headache, etc. can occur when you overstress yourself.
A positive attitude towards life, work, and relationships can help you to significantly relieve unnecessary stress which you may take in your everyday life. It is also helpful in avoiding your body from producing excess cortisol hormones which may take the shape of physical body pain.
Thus keeping a positive attitude in your everyday life is important and helps you to manage your stress.
Acceptance Is One Way Of Managing Stress:
People often try to show as if nothing is wrong with them or they aren’t worried sick about something that is stressing them out. It is the worst thing to do since your stress is multiplied when you try to suppress it.
Suppressing your stress may help you look good in front of others but it will, in turn, do bad to your health. The more you try to suppress your stress the worst your condition gets. Your suppressed stress will soon take the shape of an explosion and things could turn out even worse.
There’s no harm in accepting that you are worried sick or something is bothering you to your bones and you are stressed. In fact, accepting that you are stressed is an effective stress management technique and helps you to relieve some of your stress.
You may even get help from your friends and family in dealing with your stressor. So, learn to accept your situation and try to find solutions to your problems by sharing your problem.
There is no harm in saying that “no diet is a good or healthy diet if you are under stress“. You might question how or why. Let me explain to you. When you are stressed out, your body produces stress hormones, cortisol in a large number.
These stress hormones signal the liver to produce a higher amount of glucose and release it in your bloodstream for your body to consume. So, no matter how healthy you eat when you are stressed, the food you eat is eventually going to turn into glucose.
The excess glucose in your bloodstream will eventually get converted into body fat and get deposited into your body parts. Thus no diet is healthy if you are stressed.
But this doesn’t mean that you stop considering which food to eat or at what quantity. A healthy diet may not be able to do good to you when you are stressed out but it will surely do not harm as well.
Eating unhealthy foods when you’re stressed, it will surely do more harm to your health. Thus you should consider eating more of a balanced healthy diet when you are under stress.
Physical Activities For Stress Management:
Our body is a complex machine and physical activities help to keep it intact and functioning well. Just like any other machine or device that gets rusty or stops functioning when left unused for a longer period of time, our body too goes out of shape when we stay idle for a while.
The only solution to this problem is to keep working your body out and by working your body I mean the entire body and not just your brain.
Physical activities are a great way of working your body parts. It not just helps to keep your body in shape but also helps to keep your body hormones in check. It does so by removing the unnecessary and unused hormones that are left in your body.
Since stress hormones are hormones too and thus working out your body also helps to remove your excess stress hormones. This, in turn, helps you to relieve stress significantly and helps in stress management.
Proper Rest and Enough Sleep:
Much like the machines need some time to rest in between sessions, your body needs proper rest every day. Sometimes you get too much occupied in your work that you neglect your body’s signs to rest.
I completely agree and understand that meeting your deadlines is important but that doesn’t mean you can ignore your body’s need to rest. Overworking your body creates tension in your muscle and your head starts feeling heavy.
In addition, you stressing out to complete your deadline floods your body with stress hormones. They promote to worsen your body’s situation even further and you start feeling tension and pain throughout your body.
Furthermore, your productivity is below par and you can only output little even after overworking your mind and body. A good rest helps to recuperate your body and fill it with the energy necessary to go on for another day.
Your head feels light and your productivity increases significantly. You can easily make up to the time you spend resting since your productivity is at a different level. And the good thing about you resting is that you can easily meet your deadlines without overworking your body.
So next time you think of staying up late and finishing your work at hand, remember it is not worth your effort. Better have a good night’s sleep so that your brain and body could have adequate rest and you can finish your work first thing in the morning.
It will help you avoid unnecessary stress to build up in your body and cause trouble to you.
Meditation and Yoga:
Most of the time, your stress is the result of you not being aware of what is actually causing it. You try to fight it back but since you have no idea about what is causing it in the first place, your efforts go in vain. Furthermore, your unnecessary precaution and preventive methods put extra stress on your body.
The only solution to this problem is that you become aware of the sources of your stressor or stressors. Only then you can take the necessary steps to manage and control your stress. And there is no better way of identifying your stressor than by practicing mindfulness.
Practicing meditation is the best stress management techniques. When you practice mindfulness, you grow aware of your surroundings and your inner self. You can pinpoint the root cause of your stress if there is any or help you realize that you are just stressing out without any actual stimuli.
You can then work your way up to the cause and eradicate it for food.
The same thing can be said for yoga as well. Practicing yoga and meditation helps to enhance your senses and also helps in keeping your emotions in check. So, find some time for yourself to practice mindfulness or yoga.
Nature therapy is another great stress management technique. It works wonder and helps to soothe your mind and soul.
The hectic and busy lifestyle amidst the concrete jungle puts greater stress on people nowadays. More and more people fall victim to the concrete atmosphere.
I do not mean that the concrete jungle we live in isn’t beautiful. It is mesmerizing and loved by everyone. Cause if the concrete jungle wasn’t captivating, people would have never built it in the first place.
But we should not forget the fact that we come from the wild and every once in a while we need to breath fresh wild air. The only way is to get away as far from the concrete jungle as possible.
It might not be practicable to everyone. So what you can do instead is create your very own miniature nature part inside your home. You can plant trees in your garden for greenery, pot flowers to improve your bedroom and living room scenery.
Indoor plants Bird’s nest fern, snake plant, Peace Lily, etc. can significantly enhance your living space. Furthermore, they also help to purify the air helping you breathe fresh air. Your stress is easily taken care of without having to do much.
Pets especially dogs are considered man’s best friend and not for nothing. Having pets at home can significantly boost your positivity. Playing and spending time with your beloved pets work as a stress reliever. If you are someone who is alone, having a pet as will significantly help to lighten up your mood.
Living a life of solitude is never a good idea. You need someone to talk to and share your thoughts. Having a pet to live with will help you out. You can talk to your pet, discuss future plans, your ideas, etc. and your pet will be there to listen to everything that you have in mind.
You might as well want to complain about your boss, gossip, and all and your pet will listen to all your complaints and gossips that keep bothering you. Having stuff all stacked up in your mind puts a lot of stress and you cannot focus on your work and life goal.
What you need is a trusted loyal partner, one who can listen to all your complaints but will never complain back. So, next time you think of living alone, find a suitable pet friend for yourself.
Now that we have discussed the effective stress management techniques. we will now see how you can actually implement them in your daily life.
Here’s a stepwise procedure to implement stress management techniques in your busy daily life.
Step 1: Identifying Your Source or Sources of Stress:
Your stress is two things, either your mind responding to a stressor i.e. fear of the known. Or your mind mistaking to identify something else as a stressor i.e. you fearing something unknown.
It is natural for you to get stressed when you come across a threat or problem. Stress due to work pressure, stress to secure good ranks in an examination, stress due to economic situation, etc are common stressors in people’s life. The stress is often short term and is relieved as soon as you deal with your stressors.
But it is not the case always. Sometimes your mind overthinks things and situations making a tiny matter that can be dealt with easily a life-death situation. It is your fear of the unknown. Your fear takes the shape of stress in no time.
Your fear of the unknown is the stressor here and unless you do something about your fear, your stress won’t go away. But since you do not know that it’s your fear causing you to stress and not some stressor, you start panicking. And your body responds to it by producing even more stress hormones.
An increase in the number of stress hormones puts even more stress on your mind and body. This cycle will continue unless you decide to face your fear and try to figure out your actual situation.
Let’s take an example of how your mind sometimes identifies something normal as a stressor.
Scene 1: You see 5,6 people with a well-built physique running towards you shouting your name. What will you do? Obviously run right?
Scene 2: So, you start running away from them as fast as possible without even trying to know what is actually going on. And to make things even worse, your mind searches for the reason behind the incident.
Scene 3: You now start scanning past events where you got involved in a fight or you beating up someone. You start making up different possible scenarios behind you being chased. Interestingly enough your mind selects the worst possible scenario for this outcome and you are soon filled with deeper fear.
Scene 4: Now let us assume you escaped them somehow. But even so, you are still tensed to what might happen next. You’ll start panicking thinking they might come to your place searching for you.
Scene 5: Your heartbeat sounds like a ticking time bomb ready to explode with every passing second. You eventually start fearing everything and everyone around you. Even your own shadow freaks you out. You grow restless and suspicious with every passing minute. There is no end to your suffering caused by fear nor is there any end to your stress.
Now Let me ask you another question. Was this the only way out of the situation?
You could have stayed back and confronted them face to face before deciding on your actions. This way you would at least know who those people were. They could be anyone including someone’s bodyguard. One who was looking to crack a deal with you or make you his son in law.
It is however only an example. So you better not get excited and go facing everyone who comes after you. Else you might actually run into trouble eventually.
So the moral of the story is that you should always try to identify your stressors. Try to figure out if they actually exist or your mind is making things up and causing you to stress.
This way you’ll get a change to evaluate the frequency of your stressor.
Step 2: Evaluate the Stressors for Frequency and Magnitude:
Some of the stressors persist more than once and a few of them are more frequent in nature than others. Stress from work and stress from family situations are some of the most frequent sources of stress. But there are many such other frequent stressors which you’ll encounter in life.
Similarly, some stressors are low in magnitude and take very less effort to overcome. While there are others that are high in magnitude and may require much greater effort to overcome. And there are some that you cannot overcome no matter how hard you try.
Here’s an easy guide for you to evaluate your stressors:
Whenever you face a stressor, try questioning yourself these questions and answering them as well.
1. Have I ever encountered such situations before?
- If the answer to this question is a no, categorize the stressor as unique and not frequent.
- If the answer is a yes, try asking another question i.e.
2. When was the last time I encountered this situation?
- If the answer to this question is months ago or years ago, characterize it as not frequent.
- If your answer is last week or a week before last week or just recently, try asking another question i.e.
3. How many times have I faced such stressors in the past month or two?
- If the answer to this question is at least twice, then categorize the stressor as frequent.
- If the answer to this question is 4-5 times in the past month, then categorize it as more frequent.
Now for the evaluation of magnitude of the stressors try answering the following questions;
1. Is the stressor unique to you?
- If yes, then the magnitude of the stressor is going to be higher since you do not know how to deal with it just yet.
- If No, then try answering the following question.
2. Were you able to overcome your stress?
- If No, then the magnitude of the stressor is higher.
- If Yes, then try answering the next question i.e.
3. How much time did you take to overcome your stressor?
- If the answer is within a day or two, then the magnitude of the stressor is low.
- And if the answer to this question is about a week or two, then the magnitude of this stressor is higher.
Once you have evaluated the stressor try noting it down in a diary for future reference. It will also come in handy when you are trying to categorize your stressors.
Step 3: Categorize Your Stressors:
You now have a list of stressors, their magnitudes, and their occurring frequency. Try categorizing your stressors into two categories based on stress frequency and stress magnitude.
- Type-1: Stressor with greater frequency but low magnitude.
- Type-2: Stressor with less frequency or unique but higher in magnitude.
In doing so, separate out the most frequent stressors from the least frequent or the occasional ones. Also, keep in mind the magnitude of the stressors while you arrange your stressors accordingly.
It is important to categorize your stressors before you try to deal with them. Else you may lack the necessary commitment to deal with your stressors.
Step 4: Start Working on Type-1 Stressors:
Once you’ve categorized your stressor, start working on the type-a i.e. stressor with greater frequency but low in magnitude first. Since they aren’t much of trouble dealing with, you can use the first five stress management techniques in order to manage your stress i.e.
- Keep a positive attitude,
- Accept the situation that you’re in and move on,
- Eat healthy foods and a balanced diet,
- Get involved in physical activities on a daily basis, and
- Get proper rest and enough sleep every day.
These five stress management techniques will work wonder in handling your everyday stress i.e your work stress, family stress, educational stress, etc.
Step 5: Work Your Way Up to the Type-2 Stressors:
For the stressors that are unique or less frequent in nature and high in magnitude, try the other three stress management techniques in addition to the above five stress management methods i.e.
- Meditation and yoga,
- Nature therapy, and
- Pet therapy.
You might as well implement these three stress management techniques while dealing with any and all types of stressors. They are highly effective in managing stress and relieving your stress.
Step 6: Keep Your Composure and Press On:
Some stress may persist for a longer period of time without you being able to do anything about it. You try every and all stress management techniques but you are unable to breakthrough. You might feel like nothing is working and think of giving up.
In times such as these, remember to keep your composure always and press on. You might never know that your efforts were never in vain and you were only inches away from breaking through.
So, next time you get stuck in tough situations and see no way out, do not panic, keep your composure and press on.
Remember stress is not your enemy but your friend in need. It is your imagination that is to be blamed.
If you are able to keep your composure and not freak out in the first sign of danger, you might as well find your way out of the situation if you look closely.
But if you choose to run away without even confirming whether you really are in a troubled situation or not, you will never be able to live stress-free.
And if you ever face a real danger or you find yourself stuck in a tight spot, you can always rely on your friend and family for help.