Stress Management Techniques for a Healthier You
Stress management is essential to live a healthy and productive life.
We live in a stressful world. Every day we juggle the daily stresses of our personal lives from traffic jams and work challenges, to temper tantrums and relationship issues, to countless other situations. Combine these with the stresses of natural disasters and severe weather, political unrest and economic woes, it’s no wonder that people need some easy stress management go-to’s.
In a recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association in late 2017, the majority of individuals polled reported feeling significant levels of stress and anxiety. According to the study, the most common sources of stress cited by participants include:
- The Future of Our Nation (63%)
- Money (62%)
- Work (61%)
- Current Political Climate (57%)
- Violence and Crime (51%)
Why is Stress Management Important?
Stress occurs when we perceive certain demands and situations exceed our ability to cope. In small amounts stress can be beneficial, creating a boost of adrenaline that provides a drive and energy to help us navigate situations, such as work deadlines or exams. But excessive amounts of stress can cause health consequences; such as negatively influencing our cardiovascular, immune, neuroendocrine and central nervous systems. When left unchecked, stress can take a severe emotional toll as well.
Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional wellbeing, as well as your physical health. It alters your ability to function effectively, think clearly, and enjoy life. Here are a few simple tips for stress management to reduce your anxiety levels to get you back on the path to Zen.
Simple Hacks to get you started:
Identify the stressors in your life
Stress management begins by identifying the sources of stress in your life. Sounds simple enough, right? While it’s easy to identify major stressors, such as moving homes or changing careers, narrowing the source of chronic stress is far more complicated. When considering the sources of your stress, be sure to take into consideration how your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors impact your everyday stress levels.
One of the keys to stress management lies in realizing what factors stress you out. Look closely at your attitude, habits, and even your excuses for stress. Until you accept responsibility for your role in creating or maintaining it, your stress levels will remain beyond your control.
Write down the stressors in your life
Consider starting a stress journal. This may help you identify the common stressors in your life, and how you currently deal with them. When you feel stressed, make a note in your journal.
What caused your stress? How did it make you feel, both emotionally and physically? How did you react? What made you feel better / What did you do to make yourself feel better? If the actions you took are not easing the stress, what is a different response or reaction that could have a positive effect instead? As you track daily, you’ll begin to see common themes and patterns.
The Four A’s of Stress Management
- Avoid – Although it’s not healthy to avoid a stressful situation that needs to be addressed, you’d be surprised at the number of stressors you can eliminate in your life. Learn to say no and distinguish “shoulds” from “musts.” Whenever possible, avoid the people who stress you out. If it’s someone you can’t completely avoid, such as your boss, limit your engagements with them as much as possible.
- Alter – If you can’t avoid the stressful situation, try to alter it. Stress management often lies in the way we communicate and operate in our daily life. Express your feelings instead of keeping them inside. When something bothers you, be assertive but respectful. Recognize the opportunity to compromise. There is often a middle road, where both parties can reach common ground.
- Adapt – If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. When it comes to stress management, you’d be surprised what changing your expectations and attitude can accomplish. Reframe your problems, consider the big picture, adjust your standards, and take a moment to reflect on and be grateful for what’s going well in your life. You might find you have more abundance than you think, and the stressor isn’t all that significant after all.
- Accept – Some sources of stress are inevitable. Try as you might, you can’t change or prevent certain stressors (such as the death of a loved one, a serious health problem, or a national crisis). When these types of stressors occur, try to accept things for what they are. Acceptance can be difficult. However, in the long run, it’s easier to accept “what is” than to live in denial, and constantly worry about something you can’t change.
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. However, chronic stress can negatively impact your physical health and emotional state. Luckily, there’s a wide variety of proven stress management techniques that can produce relief from daily stressors.
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