Feeling Stressed? Try these strategies
Stress is seen as feeling overwhelmed, wound-up, tense or worried. We all experience stress at different times, and sometimes it can motivate us to finish a task or perform well. But on other occasions, it can be harmful by interfering with our ability to get on with our daily life.
How Stress Affects Us
Stress affects us in different ways, most of which can be negative if stress is ongoing. During times of stress, our nervous system becomes overstimulated, and our body’s production of essential hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, and neurotransmitters become out of balance.
When we are stressed, our body thinks it is in danger, so it goes into ‘fight or flight’ reaction. In this situation, our body increases the amount of cortisol and adrenaline. As a result, our heart rate increases and sends extra blood flow to our muscles, while slowing down our digestion to protect us. While these physical changes in our bodies can help us to deal with the stressful situations, ongoing stress can cause other physical or psychological symptoms such as:
- Sleep Disturbances
- Upset stomach, indigestion, diarrhoea
- Feeling moody
- Being teary
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low self-esteem
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
- Heart disease
So What Can You Do?
1. Identify the Sources of Stress in Your Life
The most important step in managing stress is to determine the situations that become the cause of stress in your life. Finding these sources is not easy. The main sources of stress aren’t always clear, and it’s quite easy to ignore your own stress-inducing behaviours, feelings, and thoughts. While for most individuals worrying about work deadlines is the leading cause of stress, it may not be the case with you. Instead of the actual job demands, it may be your procrastination that leads to deadline stress.
To identify what causes you to feel stressed, you need to observe your attitude, habits, and excuses carefully. Accepting the responsibility for your role in creating stress is the key here. Without it, you won’t be able to control it.
2. Avoid Unnecessary Stressful Situations
Not all stressful situations can be prevented. However, if you can, then it is recommended that you do so. Following tips will help:
- Learn how to say “no”: Taking on more than you can handle is a recipe for stress. You should know your limits and stick to them.
- Avoid hot-button topics: If you get upset over politics or religion, cross them off your conversation list.
- Avoid people who stress you out: If someone continually causes stress in your life and it is also impossible for you to turn the relationship around, then limit the amount of time you spend with that person.
3. Adapt to the Stressor
If you cannot avoid a stressful situation, change yourself. By changing your attitude and expectations, you can regain your sense of control and adapt to stressful situations. Following tips will help:
- Reframe problems: Viewing a stressful situation from a more positive perspective will help reframe the problem. For example, instead of getting furious about a traffic jam, perceive it as an opportunity to take a little break, enjoy some alone time, listen to your favourite radio station, etc.
- Adjust your standards: If you demand perfection, then it is likely that you are setting yourself up for failure. Learn to be okay with ‘good enough’. When you have reasonable standards, your chances of easily handling a stressful situation are higher.
- Focus on the positive: When you are stressed, focus on the things you appreciate in your life.
4. Adopt A Healthy Lifestyle
By strengthening your physical health, you can increase your resistance to stress. Following tips will help:
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise helps reduce pent-up tension and stress. Exercise for at least 30 minutes daily, three times per week.
- Eat a balanced, nutritious diet: Be mindful of what you eat. When your body is well-nourished, you are better prepared to deal with stress. Begin your day with breakfast, and keep your mind clear and your energy up with healthy diet throughout the day.
- Avoid cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs: Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol will only provide a temporary escape from stress. Therefore, it is recommended to deal with the issue with a clear mind.
- Get enough sleep: Feeling tired increases stress and can cause us to think irrationally. Adequate sleep is vital as it fuels the body and mind.
Next time you’re feeling stressed try the techniques mentioned above will help you take control of stress by relaxing your body and mind.