Stress management should be an integral part of your life. High levels of unchecked stress puts your and your family's wellbeing at risk. Stress devastates both your emotional and physical health. It clouds your mind and hinders you from leading a functional, productive, and joyful life.
I know what you're thinking: "That statement is so true! I should send this article to my boss so he/she can learn about stress management."
Though it might not be a bad idea, I want you to pay attention, too. Most of us are strangely ignorant of the fact that we can become stressed out just like those around us. I'll be the first to admit... I'm guilty!
Phew... I feel better already. See how easy it is? I just practiced one of the stress management techniques we'll be working on through in this article.
But before we talk about stress management, it's a good idea to acquaint ourselves with stress symptoms. Let's read about it here.
QUICK OVERVIEW OF THIS ARTICLE
For your convenience, this article is divided into two short sections:
1. Why stress management is important.
Stress management techniques.
Though the article is quite short, it's full of valuable and practical stress management techniques you can start implementing today. Also, we'll be making regular updates to this article since it's such an important topic.
WHY STRESS MANAGEMENT IS IMPORTANT
SHORT & SWEET ANSWER
Stress management puts you in control of the situation, and not the other way around.
(NOT SO) LONG ANSWER
We won't get all sciency (after all, you're in an uncomplicated, stress-free zone here) but we do need to understand what happens to us when we stress:
Basically, your brain changes chemically and physically and because of that, it starts to function in a different way from how it would function when you're not stressed.
Under stress, your brain starts releasing too many stress chemicals, and your body suffers the consequences.
So if you'd rather not live with depression, heart disease, or neurological diseases, stress management should be on top of your to-do list every day.
Stress is a necessary part of our daily lives. It can motivate us to overcome challenges or dangerous situations. But once you believe you do not have the time, resources, or knowledge to handle a certain situation; it's time to pause, reflect, and apply effective stress management techniques.
STRESS MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Please note: everyone is unique. We do not react to stress in the same way, so there is no "one-size-fits-all" technique. You should read up on various resources and experiment to find out what works best for you. Also, stress can cause severe health issues and in extreme cases it can lead to death.
While these guidelines aim to enrich your life and to help you change your life for the better, you should in no way be embarrassed to seek professional help if you feel the need to. Please get in touch with us if you need some further advice.
IDENTIFY THE CAUSES
Get a "stress journal" and spend 10-20 minutes a day writing about situations that made you feel stressed during the day. You'll soon notice a pattern that will guide you to the exact causes of your stress. As the saying goes: "the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem". The same is true with stress. If you want to manage it, you must know what causes it.
Try to identify the underlying causes of your stress. For example, you may be worried about work deadlines but the problem is not the deadlines. Perhaps you procrastinate and that's the reason you have too little time to meet deadlines.
We all play an active role in the creation and maintenance of our stress. You will only be able to take control of a situation when you accept responsibility for the role you play. Always examine your own habits and overall attitude toward stressful situations.
LET YOUR FEELINGS OUT
Talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you need to. Talking with friends, family, or a counsellor about your feelings is a healthy way to relieve stress.
Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good, and it can also serve as a valuable distraction from your daily worries.
Small activities can add up over the course of a day. The first step is to get yourself up and moving. Fun and easy ways to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule include:
- Take your dog for a walk.
- Walk or cycle to the grocery store.
- Use stairs instead of elevators.
- Engage in physical, playful activities with your children.
- Put on music and dance around.
LEARN TO SAY "NO"
Saying "no" is not a sin and you have no reason to feel guilty for saying it. Any person can only do so much. Don't take on more than you can handle. It's better to do what you can and be in control of the situation, than to have too much on your plate and feel you are on your way to a nervous break-down.
"Saying 'no' is not a sin and you have no reason to feel guilty for saying it."
PLAN YOUR DAY AND MAKE A "TO-DO" LIST
Writing all the activities you would like to accomplish during the day gives you a bird's-eye view of what is important and less important. If there is too much going on, schedule the less important activities for another day. This allows you to focus on doing what needs to be done without getting stressed-out because you couldn't get the petty things done.
If you disagree with a colleague or a family member, don't expect they should be the only ones to bend. When you ask someone to change their behaviour, be willing to do the same. This will avoid unnecessary stress on both ends and lead to a creative solution.
It is easy to get lost in all the stressful moments we experience and to forget all the things you have accomplished. When you feel overwhelmed, pause and reflect on all the things you appreciate. Practising gratitude regularly helps you keep a healthy perspective of where you are vs. where you were a week, month, or a year ago.
MAKE TIME TO HAVE FUN AND RELAX
All work and no play really makes Jack a dull boy! Fun and relaxation is a stress management technique that is tried, tested, and approved.
Recharge your energy levels by scheduling leisure time. It allows you to be better prepared when you continue with your responsibilities. Do something you enjoy every single day and do not lose your sense of humour.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Your first line of defence for effective stress management is your lifestyle. You can only cope with whatever life throws at you if you have a healthy mind and body.
- Maintain a balanced and nutritious diet.
- Reduce caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol consumption.
- Get enough sleep.
Read this post to find out how the food you eat influences stress and anxiety.
Which stress management techniques to you apply and how have they changed your life? Let us know in the comments section.
Article written by Melissa Niemann
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