New research has indicated that chronic stress has become one of the leading causes of health issues globally. Over 74% of people in the world have felt so stressed to a point that they could not cope with it. Some of the stress-related health disorders include depression, anxiety, and various heart diseases. Stress is known to propagate diseases like asthma, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, and Alzheimer’s disease.
What is Stress?
Stress can be defined as the state of constant behavioral, psychological, or physiological pressure or tension when presented with a situation that demands more than you can give. When an individual is stressed, they may present with insomnia, panic attacks, recurrent headaches, irritability fatigue, and weight loss.
Stress is part of our day to day life, and we can not escape it. However, how individual experiences and handles stress is what makes the big difference. The same way stress can be unhealthy, some coping mechanisms of dealing with stress may cause more harm than good.
Harmful Stress Coping Mechanisms
- Excessive alcohol consumption.
- Withdrawing from friends and family.
- Excessive eating or under-eating.
- Excessive sleeping.
- Procrastination of activities.
- Engaging in extremely aggressive behavior like lashing out or engaging in physical violence.
- Drug abuse as a coping mechanism to stressful conditions.
Understanding Your Stress Triggers
It is crucial to learn and exercise good healthier ways of stress management. Start by identifying your sources or triggers of stress. Writing a daily journal can help you identify stress triggers. It will help you to identify:
- What caused the stress?
- What emotions were triggered?
- How were you able to act or handle the stress?
- Lastly, if the action taken made you feel better about yourself.
Healthy Coping Techniques
So how do you healthily manage stress? Stress management techniques can be broadly classified into three main ways:
- Action-oriented stress management.
- Emotion-oriented stress management.
- Acceptance oriented stress management.
Avoid Stressful Conditions
Once you have identified the causes of stress in your life, try to eliminate or avoid them. If an individual causes stress in your life, minimize your interactions with them. Avoid hot topics that may trigger an argument like topics on religion, ethnicity, or politics. Take charge of your environment. If listening to specific conversations or particular news trigger unpleasant feelings, then, switch off the TV. Don’t engage with conversations that trigger or upset you. Learn to excuse yourself and walk away.
Wake up early and get to that morning run. Research has shown that exercise causes a release of feel-good endorphins, which will reduce stress.
Physical activities have a positive effect on your physical and mental health. Regular exercise has been shown to have reduced mild anxiety and depression. Furthermore, it improves sleep quality and overall confidence. Consider moderate aerobic activities like hiking, mountain climbing, and cycling.
Eat a Healthy Diet
A famous saying states that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Adopting a healthy diet will not only help in mitigating lifestyle diseases but also keeping low-stress levels.
Your meals should comprise of vegetables, fruits, plant and animal protein, and whole grains. Eat all the three meals; missing meals tends to put one in a lousy mood and predispose you to stress.
It is advised to reduce your caffeine and sugar intake as it will affect your mood. Avoid taking alcohol or any drugs, especially when you are stressed, which could lead to addiction. Self-medicating will only be a temporary solution that will help you forget your problems alone for a moment. Instead, face your problems and come up with solutions to them.
Slow Down and Have a Break
Often, we get sucked into our hectic lives and our daily grind. We go through the motions of going to work, attending social functions, and doing errands that we forget to slow down for a breather.
It is essential to have set aside time for some self-care. time. It doesn’t have to be an expensive affair. Something as simple as a relaxing bath could do the trick Dim the light, light some candles, and burn your favorite essential oil to set the mood. If you like baking, make a cake or if you love reading, pick a good weekend book.
Whatever you choose to do, the key is to enjoy every moment and not think about other things. The world would be able to hold its own while you take a break.
Learn Relaxation Techniques
For some people, relaxation means plopping down the sofa to catch up on their series. While that may be a good way to pass the time, doctors recommend engaging in activities that will bring a state of balance between the body and mind.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, deep breathing, meditation, and rhythmic exercises will reduce stress levels by lowering the blood pressure and slows down your breathing. Listening to calming music is also useful in reducing stress levels.
Schedule a spa date or a massage. Try rhythmic exercises. These are exercises that involve repetitive movements such as running, walking, swimming, dancing, and climbing. Engaging in rhythmic activities will help you to relieve build up stress. Allocate enough time to sleep. Sleep will give your body time to recover and your mind space to reset and find meaningful solutions to your problems.
Keep a Positive Attitude
Messages of self-affirmation in the morning will go a long way in improving your mood. The power of positive affirmations has shown to impact a positive attitude, which yields positive results. Transform your way of thinking and view stressful situations as a challenge or as an opportunity for growth. If you find traffic jams stressful and draining, you can take this time to strategize or as a time to unwind by your favorite radio station or some calming music.
Are you incredibly stressed out? Take a deep breath, and remind yourself of all the positivity in your life. Make a list of what you are grateful for, and in no time, you will have renewed your energy to tackle whatever lies ahead.
Stress and depression occur when we take up too many roles that our bodies cannot handle. Be assertive in your decisions. Learn to say no and do not agree to take up responsibilities you can not handle. Manage your time correctly by allocating working and relaxation hours.
Get Out of Your Head
Sometimes stressful conditions may be self-inflicted due to feelings of not being good enough or not doing enough. Give yourself a break. You are doing the best that you can, and some situations can neither be changed or reversed. Do not be too hard on yourself.
Perfectionism is a mirage, and more often than not, it can never be achieved. Set reasonable standards and work towards achieving them. Allow yourself to learn from your failures as much as you learn from your successes.
Get Social Support
It is essential to talk to a friend or a family member when facing stressful situations. Talking to someone will help ease the burden and has proved to be very therapeutic. It is advised to talk about your concerns and feelings rather than bottling them up. Communicate with the individual who wronged you, respectively, voice your opinions and emotions. Reach a consensus and make the necessary compromise and adjustments.
Seek Psychological Support
Individuals who are starting to exhibit symptoms of mild anxiety or depression due to stress should seek professional help by visiting a therapist or a psychiatrist.
In conclusion, there are various ways of handling stressful situations. It is important to note that no matter what you might be going through, there is a tomorrow. Take a step back and breathe. Mental health is of utmost importance.