5 Tips To Manage Stress

What is stress?

A feeling of emotional or physical strain that comes from any thought or event, and makes you feel angry, anxious, nervous or frustrated, is nothing but stress. It is a typical reaction of the body when a person is faced with a changing environment. Some amount of stress is considered to be a normal part of life. Sometimes, even positive changes like a promotion, or the birth of a child can trigger stress.

Types of stress

Broadly, there are two types of stress:

  • Acute: This kind of a stress is short-term, which may be felt in small, everyday incidents such as when you slam hard on the car brakes, a fight with someone, or avoid close accidents. It is also triggered when you do some exciting activity.
  • Chronic: This kind of a stress is long lasting. It may arise from bigger problems such as monetary troubles, troubled job environment or unhappy married life. This kind of stress is characterized by the fact that it may last for weeks or months. Sometimes, it becomes a part of your life and you do not realize that it is a problem that needs to be treated. If this kind of stress in not managed, it may lead to health issues.

How does the body react to stress?

Releasing hormones is the body’s way to react to stress. Due to these hormones, your brain becomes more alert, the muscles become tense, and the pulse rate increases. For a situation of acute stress, these reactions are beneficial because it helps you to handle the stress causing situation. In a way, the body is protecting itself.

When you are suffering from chronic stress, it may put your health at a risk. There are chances of suffering from the following:

  • High BP
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obesity
  • Skin problems like acne
  • Menstrual problems, or
  • It can worsen an existing health condition

Stress is further linked to leading causes of death, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Lung problems
  • Heart attacks/stroke
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Accidents
  • Suicides

Warning signs of stress

A person suffering from chronic stress may show some of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent body aches/pains
  • Clenched jaw or grinding teeth
  • Headaches, forgetfulness
  • Dizziness
  • Acid reflux/indigestion/diarrhea/constipation
  • Increased or decreased appetite, weight loss or weight gain
  • Sleeping problems
  • Increased pulse
  • Cold/sweaty palms
  • Exhaustion, lack of energy, lack of focus
  • Tensed muscles in the neck/shoulders/face
  • Trembling hands
  • Sexual difficulties

Importance of Stress Management

When you live with chronic stress levels, your entire physical and emotional well being is put at risk. You may not be able to think clearly, or enjoy life to the fullest. The bills keep on piling up, the hours of the day don’t feel enough, your work and family seems to be always demanding. You think you cannot control what is going on, but you can.

There are effective stress management tools, which are not one-size-fits-all. One must keep experimenting and find out what works best. Here are 5 such stress relievers to help you manage stress:

Identifying the stress causing factors/sources:

It may be easy to identify major factors like job change, shift of location, divorce, etc, but identifying what is causing ongoing or chronic stress is sometimes difficult. At times, it is our own thoughts, behaviours or feelings that may be causing routine stress levels. To identify such sources, observe your own behavior closely, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can you remember the last time you took a deep long breathe of relief?
  • Do you feel that stress is a normal part of your routine, or it is a part of your personality?
  • Do you blame it on others or on the circumstances?

Your stress level won’t be under control unless you accept responsibility for your own behavior.

Get on your feet

When under stress, the last thing you feel like doing is getting out of bed or exercising. However, physical activities are found out to be great stress relievers. This is because exercise releases hormones named endorphins which make a person feel good.

Incorporate some of these activities in your daily schedule:

  • Put on some music
  • Walk or cycle around the street or in the neighborhood
  • At work, use the stairs instead of an elevator
  • Try to work out for 20-30 minutes a day
  • Play outdoor games

 

Connect with others

Spending quality time with other people who make you feel safe or understood is a great escape from stress causing factors. You can connect with anybody- friends or family. When you do so, the body goes into a fight-or-flight mode, and acts as a natural stress reliever. In fact, face-to-face meetings are the best.

It is not necessary that the people you meet will solve your problems. But it will be helpful if these people are good listeners.

Allot time for fun activities or relaxation

This is where you carve out your “me time” from the busy routine. Don’t let the hustle-bustle of everyday life eat you up, take care of your own needs. This is a necessity, and not a luxury. Set aside time for leisure activities, while preventing other obligations to encroach this time. Make time for activities that you enjoy- cooking, cleaning, gardening, listening to music, reading or just watching the stars.

Try to take up relaxation activities such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. As you indulge in these activities that cheer you up, you step out of the mundane life and your body and mind enter a state of calm and serenity, helping you manage stress.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Along with exercising, healthy lifestyles choices go a long way to manage stress. Eating a healthy diet is like giving food to the brain to keep up the energy levels with nutritious meals. One should also reduce the caffeine and sugar intake, as this helps sleeping better. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. These addictions may provide an easy escape, but they are only temporary relievers. You can also get health insurance to protect yourself. Lastly, get enough sleep.

Stress is like burning the candle at both ends until you reach a point of physical and emotional tiredness. You burn yourself out. Try out the different tips and tools mentioned here and see what works the best for you. Do not take the warning signs or symptoms lightly – deal with the problem at hand. By practicing regular stress management techniques, you can eliminate some stress and find something which fits with your personality and lifestyle so that you can follow it everyday. Substances like alcohol, drugs, gambling, tend to keep the body in a stressed state and do not solve the problems.

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