As human beings we’re not immune to stress. We’ve all dealt with different levels of stress in one way or the other. Stress can come from various sources, ranging from physical activities to financial difficulties, marital and love issues and relationships with friends. Medically, a little amount of stress is termed healthy but excessive stress is dangerous. Instead of allowing stress to take over your entire life, you can adopt some stress-management techniques that could help you deal with stress effectively before it poses a health risk.
Step 1: Identify the causes of stress?
1.1 Personal problems:
- Health issues such as prolonged illness, sudden weight gain or weight loss and suffering from other non treatable can also put you in stress.
- Emotional problems, such as anger which you don’t express, lack of confidence, guilt, anxiety and grief.
- Relationships issues like breakup with girlfriend or boyfriend, recent divorce, daily arguments in family life, feeling betrayed and loneliness can make you to withdraw yourself from social life.
- Major life changes, such as getting married, coping up with a death of loved one or moving to a new city.
- Financial instability can also put you in a stressful condition. Not able to earn much to meet your daily or monthly financial needs such as loan repayment, rent and family expenditure can also land you in a more serious stressful environment.
1.2 Social issues:
- Your job. Not being happy with your current job or working in a stressful environment can also be a cause of chronic stress.
- Unemployment or not being able to find a work for you, can also add to your stress level.
Step 2: Dealing with stress
Have you pondered on the various ways you have dealt with stress in the past? Are those strategies healthy or unhealthy? Do they put you at an advantage or disadvantage? This is because people often cope with stress in ways that causes more problems for them.
2.1 Unhealthy ways of coping with stress:
The below strategies may help you to reduce your stress level on temporarily basis; however you can’t live with them for long time:
2.2 Healthier ways to manage stress
If the way you’ve tried to get rid of stress isn’t working, you can try other stress management techniques, and adopt the one that works best for you.
(i) Accept things that you can’t change:
There are inevitable events which bring about stress in our lives. Try being positive about them and accept that you can’t change them.
- Concentrate on things that makes you happy and feel in control
- Learn from your mistakes and know how to make the best use of them in the future.
- Accept that no one is perfect and imbibe the tenets of forgiveness and move on.
(ii) Avoid unnecessary stress:
Although stress is unavoidable, some of it arise from predictable events which can be prevented. You can either change the situation or your reaction to it to avoid these stressors.
- Do not try to impress people at your own disadvantage.
- Shun people who increase your stress levels and do not contribute positively to your life. This can be personally or professionally.
- Look for alternatives to various things that cause an increase in your stress levels.
- Always remember that you are not perfect. It’s not a shame to be human.
- Don’t over-berate yourself after giving a task your all and it doesn’t work out as planned.
- You are your true best friend. Learn to love yourself and be confident about it.
(iii) Find Pleasure:
Doing things that bring smiles to your face, laughter to your lips and makes you happy is one sure way to fight stress when you feel bad or let down.
- Take on an art or craft project which could range from oil painting to sketching, creating a scrap book or finger-painting with grandchildren or kids in the neighborhood and other do it yourself projects. You never can know the talents or skills you possess until you put them to use.
- Take up a hobby, whether old or new. You might find it fun.
- Try reading one of your favorite books, a short story, a magazine or a newspaper. The list is endless.
- Socialize with friends. Go for coffee or a meal with your pals; anything that would help you socialize better and increase your social skills.
- Listening to music during or after you practice relaxation is also a therapeutic way of overcoming stress. Music helps to soothe the mind and will make you feel at peace.
- Take a walk and appreciate the beauty of nature — listen to the birds, identify trees and flowers, feel the breeze on your cheeks, admire the sunset.
- Write a list of everything you still want to do in life. Maybe you had like to visit some dream places or do one or two things you have never done before it could be attending a musical concert, buying a house, going to Hawaii, visiting an amusement park you never went to as a child. Write those wishes down. Have a journal or diary where you can write them. There’s no shame in having our personal wishes. It’s all part of being human.
- Learn new games. Play cards or board games with friends. Try new games you haven’t attempted before. It could be chess, scrabble, bowling, etc.Games are also helpful in overcoming stress levels. Apart from that, they help to increase one’s mental capacity.
(iv) Adopt a healthy lifestyle:
Apart from regular exercise, which is important, here are other healthy choices you can adopt to fight stress.
- Eat well balanced and nutritious meals. This is because well-nourished bodies cope better with stress.
- Reduce the amount of caffeine and sugar you consume. This will help you to relax and sleep better.
- Avoid taking hard drugs and other related substances. They pose serious health risks in the long-run.
- Sleep well but don’t sleep too much. Sleep is a fuel for the mind as well as the body. A healthy sleep routine will leave you fresh and renewed.
- Practice yoga and meditation constantly. They help to clear your mind and reduce your stress level.
(v) Emergency Stress Stoppers:
These are out-of-the blue methods that helps you calm down when you find yourself in distress or emergency stress situations.
- Count to at least10 in your head before you speak.
- Cool down. Take three to five deep breaths before you react.
- Walk away. Handle the stressful situations later when you feel you are finally in control of yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to apologize if you’ve made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes.
- Set your watch to five to 10 minutes ahead to avoid the hassle of not meeting a time deadline.
- Take things you feel are huge one step at a time. It’s not compulsory to deal with everything at once.
- If you’re stressed when driving, avoid busy roads that make you lose focus or destroy your calm.
- Do something unexpected or funny that would definitely leave a smile on your face.
- Never let anyone make you feel less-important or reduce your self-esteem. Stand up to bullies.
- Talk to someone you trust about how stress bothers you. Opening up to a trusted person is a good way to overcome stress.
- Keeping your emotions to your self is a harmful way of increasing your stress levels. Learn to let out your emotions. Get a stress relief ball or a yelling/punching bag to release your emotions on.
(vi) Prioritize and organize things to reduce job stress:
Learning to coordinate and organize your time and activities at work would go a long way in reducing job stress. Set a pace at which you can work.
- Don’t over-work yourself. Avoid getting involved in too many activities. Learn to sift the grain from the chaff. Concentrate on tasks that are most important and leave out the unnecessary ones.
- Arrange tasks in order of importance. Divide your tasks into categories and tackle the important ones first. Doing the difficult or unpleasant tasks first leaves the rest of the day stress-free.
- Do not take on all tasks at once. Adopt a step-by-step approach to tackle huge tasks. Taking all at once can increase your stress levels.
- Commit a task to someone or other people. Nothing stops you from taking a break from work when you feel overwhelmed. Let other people take charge.
- Learn to compromise. You will find working easier with your colleagues or subordinates when you take their feelings or needs into consideration.