4 Practical Ways to Manage Stress
Stress is characterized by physical and emotional tensions that lead to feelings of fear and anxiety. Events or situations such as problems in your relationships, illness, job loss, and difficulty with school work could be considered stressors. Stress is your response to these stressors.
You are more likely to cope with stressors that are not excessively severe or too much at any one time. But when you face excessive demands, you might be unable to cope, and you could resort to inappropriate ways of dealing with them. According to a Mayo Clinic writer, chronic stress can place you at risk of many health problems including heart disease, digestive problems, and depression.
For you to effectively cope with stress, you need to have a variety of strategies and make appropriate choices about when to use them. You are likely to find that some methods of dealing with stress are more effective than others.
If you read this article on managing stress, you will find out how to:
1. Avoid stressful people and situations
2. Alter your responses to situations
3. Change your way of thinking
4. Balance your lifestyle.
This could reduce your stress and move you to a healthier and more satisfying life.
Understanding and Managing Stress
Avoid Stressful People and Situations
One of the first steps you can take to manage your stress is to avoid the stressors, that is, the events or situations that are placing a demand on you.
Although you may not be able to do this all the time, there situations and events, where this is very possible. Here are some ways you could avoid some stressors.
- Don't take on more than you can handle. This means that you need to set appropriate boundaries in your life, and know when to say "no" to requests that will cause you to overextend yourself.
- Limit the amount of time you spend with some people. If at all possible, you might need to cut down on the time you spend with people who tend to stress you out.
- Avoid some topics in conversations. One step you can take to manage stress is to steer clear of topics that you tend to argue over and get you upset. You need to recognize arguments that are not going to bring change, so you don't waste your time.
- Simplify your life. You might need to drop some activities from your life. You will need to take some time to do this. With careful assessment, select the things that should go, and simplify your life.
How do You Cope With Stress?
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Change Your Response to Situations
There are many stressful situations that you cannot avoid, but you can take steps to alter these activities and situations.
This approach concentrates on managing the feelings that accompany stress and finding ways of expressing your emotions in a positive way.
- Communicate your feelings. This means expressing your feelings about situations that are bothering you in an open and respectful way. While this might not change the situation, your feelings of being stressed are likely to change.
- Practice assertiveness. You might also need to be more assertive, which involves increasing your sense of self-esteem and communication skills. This could help you to communicate feelings and needs without being aggressive or defensive.
- Start journaling. Writing about your stressful situation is a coping technique that can be effective in dealing with some stressors. This could help you to think through your feelings, and see the situation you are facing differently.
- Be willing to compromise. It is likely that you will need to change your own behavior to deal with the stress that you are facing. This could mean finding a middle ground with people who are causing you stress in a situation.
Develop Right Thinking
Relaxing Music for Stress Release
The founder of cognitive therapy, Aaron Beck, explains that that emotional disturbance can be attributed to one's reactions to upsetting events. Such reactions result from people's negative view of themselves, the future, and the world.
It means, therefore, that you will need to change your standard of expectations to adapt to the stressors you face, in one or more of the following ways.
- Change your self-defeating mindset. This means viewing your situation in a more positive light. One strategy that could help you in this regard is to develop an attitude of gratitude, where you make a conscious decision to become more grateful. You can begin paying attention to the good things in your life, that you could be taking for granted.
- Put things in perspective. You could achieve this by looking at the big picture of the situation you face. You will need to consider whether or not the situation will be of importance in the long run. If the impact is not far-reaching, you might need to let it go.
- Resist perfectionist thinking. Beck talks about "thinking errors," which include perfectionist thinking—for example, thinking that if things are not perfect, they are awful. This could magnify the stressful situations. So challenge this kind of thinking. Start by rating your experiences on a 1-10 scale. Then, you are likely to find that the situation you face is in the middle of the scale and not as bad as you think.
Balance Your Lifestyle
This approach to managing stress involves anticipating problems and taking actions to avoid or decrease their impact and the resulting stress. This calls for fundamental changes in your lifestyle to facilitate life balance. Here is a list of ten strategies that you will need to put in place for a healthier more balanced lifestyle.
- Be willing to change your behavior and practices.
- Get involved physical activity including exercise.
- Eat well-balanced meals.
- Learn to manage your time effectively.
- Set priorities with realistic goals.
- Don't rely on alcohol, drug or other unhealthful habits to relieve your stress.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Take time for relaxation to recharge yourself.
- Build healthy relationships; try to connect with others.
- Pay attention to your spirituality, for example, take time for prayer and Bible reading.
Move Forward to a Balanced Life
Everyone experiences stress at different times in life. You can choose the best combination of ways to cope with stress. These may include avoiding stressful situations, changing how you see your situation, and practice using relaxation techniques.
Be sure to practice relaxation for at least ten minutes each day. This could calm your mind and body by easing the tensions you feel. Take time to balance your life, ensuring that you include the things you enjoy—for example, reading a book or going for a walk.
Life can be beautiful—take time to enjoy it. Spread love and care to those around you, and you will find that you experience less stress.
© 2013 Yvette Stupart PhD