Everyone gets stressed and feels anxious at some point in life. In fact, getting stressed and anxious is a part of growing up. Still, not everyone is an expert when it comes to managing stress and anxiety.
Some people handle it with ease as if it were nothing serious. Others find it difficult and need help in managing it. How we manage stress depends upon the following factors:
- past experiences,
- mental condition,
- social status, and
- economic condition.
Stress and anxiety are two of the most commonly used terms to define one’s mental status these days. You will often hear people complaining about how stressed or anxious they are.
What is stress?
Stress can be defined as our body’s default defense mechanism against pressure. It causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain on our body when facing a possible threat.
Here, a possible threat refers to anything or a situation that our sensory organs interpret as danger. As a result, fight or flight response gets triggered thus improving our responses.
Stress in that sense is useful and can help avoid unnecessary pain and suffering. The stress hormones produced, provide our body with inhuman strength and durability. However, it only lasts for a while.
What causes people to stress?
There are many life events that may cause people to stress. Life events such as loss of loved ones may cause stress. Some other factors of stress include:
- job insecurity,
- work stress,
- academic stress,
- economical condition,
- social status,
- complications in the relationship,
- physical tortures,
- psychological threats, etc.
Apart form above mentioned factors, people may also get stressed whenever:
- landing a dream job,
- living the best moments of their life,
- moving out,
- getting married,
- huge surprises, etc.
What are the symptoms of stress?
people may show the following signs and symptoms while they get stressed.
Here’s a list of stress management techniques for you to implement:
1. 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 works as a catalyst in speeding up your stress levels.
It fuels your stress hormones cortisol and your body responds to it 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 can help you to relieve unnecessary stress from your everyday life.
It is also helpful to prevent your body from producing excess cortisol hormones. Thus providing your relief from any kind of physical body pain.
Therefore, keeping a positive attitude in your everyday life is important when managing stress.
2. 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 something is bothering you to your bones and you are under stress.
In fact, accepting the truth can help you get rid of the unnecessary stress building within you.
You might 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.
3. Healthy Diet is Helpful in Managing Stress:
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 it to you. When you are under stress, your body produces stress hormones, cortisol in a large number.
These stress hormones signal the liver to produce a higher amount of glucose. It is then released into your bloodstream for your body to consume.
So, no matter what you eat or how healthy it is the food you eat is going to turn into glucose.
The excess glucose in your bloodstream will eventually get converted into body fat.
Thus no diet is healthy if you are under stress.
But this doesn’t mean that you stop considering which food to eat or in what quantity.
A healthy diet may not be able to do good to you when you are under stress but it will surely do no harm as well.
Eating unhealthy foods when you’re stressed will certainly do more harm to your health.
Thus you should consider eating more of a balanced healthy diet when you are under stress.
4. Physical Activities Helps to Manage Stress:
Our body is a complex machine. Physical activities help to keep it intact and functioning.
Our body gets out of shape in the absence of physical movements. Like any other machine that stops functioning when left unused for a longer period of time.
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 helps to keep your body in shape and your body hormones under control.
It does so by removing the unnecessary and unused hormones left in your body.
Since stress hormones are hormones too. Thus working out your body also helps to remove your excess stress hormones.
This, in turn, will help you to get relief from your everyday stress.
5. Proper Rest and Enough Sleep:
Having proper rest and enough sleep is one way of getting relief from stress.
Lack of sleep and proper rest can result in hormonal disbalance in the body and even muscle ache.
Your stress might be the result of hormonal imbalance in the body. Or it could be due to the pain that you are experiencing.
Pain is a triggering factor for stress. When you are in some kind of pain, you somehow feel stress.
The same is true for hormonal imbalance. Hormonal disbalance can cause stress in people.
Our body is a complex machine. It needs proper rest every day in order to work properly. Lack of proper rest may result in muscle tension and body pain.
Similarly, our mind is a control hub with limitless bandwidth. It can process any amount of information rigorously but only for a short period of time.
It needs to rest between sessions to function properly. The absence of sleep for a longer period of time may cause strain in the brain leading to stress.
Thus it is important to rest the mind and body in order to manage stress.
Having a good night’s sleep after a tiring day at work is one way of resting the mind and body.
With proper rest, you wake up with a sound mind and energetic body every morning.
6. Meditation and Yoga Helps to Manage Stress:
Practicing meditation daily can help you identify and manage the stressor.
Most of the time, your stress is the result of you not being aware of the stressor.
You try to fight back without actually giving a thought about the reason behind your stress.
Your futile efforts to overcome your stress all in vain when directed in the wrong direction.
It could complicate things even more and add unnecessary stress.
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.
Practicing mindfulness is one way of identifying your stressor. It makes you aware of your inner self and your surrounding.
When you are under stress, take a 10-15 minutes break. Look for a quiet place to sit down comfortably. Now sit in a cross-legged upright posture. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing while analyzing the situation.
By taking time to analyze your situation, you’ll be able to overcome it with ease.
Once you are able to overcome the situation that is causing you to stress, you can get rid of it.
You can do the same thing while practicing yoga.
Practicing yoga daily can enhance your senses and keep your emotions checked.
7. Nature Therapy for Stress Management:
Nature therapy is another great stress management technique. It works wonders and helps to soothe your mind and soul.
The hectic and busy lifestyle amidst the concrete jungle puts greater stress on people these days.
As a result, many people become victims of work pressure and stress.
I do not mean that the concrete jungle we live in isn’t beautiful. It is mesmerizing and loved by everyone.
If it weren’t the case then people would have never built it in the first place.
But we should not forget the fact that we come from the wild and thus cannot stay away from it for a long time.
We need fresh air to breathe every once in a while and the only way to get some fresh air is to get close to nature.
But it is not quite possible for everyone to take some time off in order to explore mother nature.
Most of us face time and money constraints and are forced to live the life of zoo animals.
Even so, we can still manage to get the feel of nature and catch some fresh air by creating our own miniature garden.
Planting flowers and trees can improve the scenery at your home and office.
Indoor plants Bird’s nest fern, snake plant, Peace Lily, etc. can enhance your living space.
Furthermore, they also help to purify the air helping you breathe some fresh air.
It will provide you the feel of living close to nature and help in taking off some of your work stress.
8. Pet Therapy is Helpful in Managing Stress:
Pets therapy works wonders when it comes to managing your daily stress.
Having pets at home can help boost your productivity and positivity.
Spending time playing with your beloved pets works as a stress reliever.
It is especially beneficial for those who happen to live a life of solitude alone.
Living a life of solitude is never a good idea. You need someone to talk to and share your thoughts.
Living with your pet will take off the burden you carry around all the time being alone.
Plus your pet best friend may help to lighten up your mood by listening to everything you have in mind.
You can talk to your pet as if it were a person, discuss future plans, your ideas, and more.
Having stuff all stacked up in your mind puts a lot of stress. As a result, you cannot focus on your work life and life goals.
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 best friend for yourself.
Here’s a stepwise guide on how to manage stress.
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 identifies something else as a stressor by mistake i.e. fear of the unknown.
It is natural for you to get stressed when you come across a threat or problem.
Some of the common stressors in life are:
- Work stress,
- Economic stress,
- Stress due to failure in life,
- Relationship stress,
- Exam stress, etc.
These stress are often short-term and are relieved as soon as you deal with your stressors.
But it is not the case always.
Sometimes your mind overthinks things and situations. It may result in an escalation of the threat level making it a larger-than-life situation.
It is all possible due to the fear of the unknown and can soon take the shape of stress.
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.
As a result, 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.
The cycle continues 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. 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 about 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 anytime soon. 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 only an example though. So you better not get excited and go facing everyone who comes after you.
Else you might actually run into trouble eventually.
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 chance 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 family situations are some of the most frequent sources of stress.
But there are many other frequent stressors that you might encounter in life.
Some stressors are low in magnitude and take very little effort to overcome.
While there are others that are high in magnitude and may need 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 answering these questions.
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 to check the 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 i.e. 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 ones.
Also, keep in mind the magnitude of the stressors while arranging your stressors.
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-1 first.
Use the first five stress management techniques to manage your stress.
- 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 wonders in handling your everyday stress.
Be it your work stress, family stress, educational stress, or any other kinds of stress.
Step 5: Work Your Way Up to the Type-2 Stressors:
Try these stress management techniques in addition to above five techniques to deal with type 2 stressors.
- Meditation and yoga,
- Nature therapy, and
- Pet therapy.
Note: You can use these three techniques to deal with any and all types of stress. 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 bring it under control.
You might feel like nothing is working and think of giving up.
In times such as these, always remember to keep your composure and press on.
You might never know when your efforts will pay off.
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.