Stress Affects Us All
Stress plagues all of us at times. We all have to find ways to cope with it when it hits. With technology becoming more advanced every day, we don’t get much time for actual relaxation. We are always plugged in, and it’s stressful.
People can reach out to us at any time of day, regardless of what we’re doing, and our phones or tablets will chime to let us know that someone needs us for something. There is a constant pressure to be ready to answer someone or be ready to work on something.
When we are stressed out, we have a hard time moving forward in life and achieving the goals we set for ourselves. Stress can make us lock up, run away, or become overly aggressive and make our friends and families want to stay away from us for fear of setting us off.
This article will cover effective strategies of managing stress that you can begin implementing today.
The Fight or Flight Stress Response
The fight or flight response to stress exists in every one of us. It is instinctual. It came into being when humans adapted for survival way back at the beginning of the human race.
We learned to fight the things that we could take on to better our chances for survival and to run, or “take flight” when the stressful situation was one that was going to be difficult to physically survive.
This same response to cope with stress exists inside every one of us, but sometimes our reactions to stressors are not appropriately scaled to the situation. We are no longer battling saber-toothed tigers or fighting to the death over rights to a cave. When we experience stress we may procrastinate, dig our head in the sand and ignore the issue. This can be seen as a “flight” mode whereas, if we use the stress to be proactive and get the work done, this can be seen as “fight” mode.
Some may even argue that this innate response designed to manage stress often does us no favors. However, there are situations in life today where our fight or flight response is helpful to us. Take for example, you are walking home from a long day after work, its pitch black outside and you sense someone coming up behind you, this moment where you feel danger and react accordingly may be just the thing that allows you to survive such an encounter.
Strategies of Managing Stress for Today’s Problems
Fortunately for us, stress management strategies and techniques exist to help us cope with not only the day-to-day stress we experience but also the bigger events we go through that trigger a panic response in us and drive us close to the brink of explosion or collapse.
This article will put forth several tips to manage stress. While they may not all work for you, they will set forth a good foundation or starting place to begin your task of managing the stressful situations in your life.
Feel free to try a few of these strategies, combine them, or adapt them to fit your certain situation and needs in a stressful situation or when life gets a bit much. The truth is that the effects of stress don’t have to invade or infect every part of life.
Techniques to Eliminate Stress
Turn off the Phone
We all somehow survived in the years before the invention and widespread use of the cell phone. Cell phones connect us to the rest of the world, and in doing so, also raise our stress levels.
We really can’t get along for too long without our mobile devices, but we can decide when to use our devices and when we want a screen-free period of time. Work life balance has become more important than ever before. When you learn to manage your time appropriately between technology and relaxation, your whole life can change for the better.
A great strategy for stress management and the attainment of relaxation is to set aside one day a week where you go off the grid. This means no phone, no computer, no internet. You spend the day unwinding and disconnecting from the digital world that demands our unending presence.
Make sure to let friends, work, and family know which day of the week you choose to go internet-free so that if there is an actual emergency, you can be reached. Go outside, get fresh air, and take in nature. You might be amazed at how the stress melts away as the day without devices goes on. You can go into the next day better able to cope with whatever stressors are presented to you.
Set a Bedtime
Lack of sleep can make us cranky and makes our ability to cope with stress weaker. More things get to us when we are tired. Setting a bedtime and sticking to it can set a routine that keeps us calm and helps us to reset each night to face the next day with energy and a positive outlook.
Our breathing slows and regulates when we sleep, our blood pressure lowers, and our bodies relax. The tension in our bodies that stress causes melts away, and we can wake up rejuvenated and ready to take on the day. Getting enough sleep can alter not only our ability to manage chronic stress but also our physical and mental health.
Meditate or Do Yoga
Meditating regularly can help us to manage stress and clear our minds of the negative thoughts that invade us throughout the day. Learning to meditate can be an amazing experience, and it can help you put all sorts of things into perspective, not just stress.
You learn to control your deep breathing and focus on your thoughts. Your mental health, emotional health, and physical health can all benefit from meditation.
Yoga is another great relaxation technique that can provide us with the exercise we need to let go of stress. When we have a lot of stress, we carry it with us on our bodies. It affects our posture, can make our muscles ache, and can cause headaches and stomach issues from the anxiety that stress produces.
Yoga can be complex or very low impact, depending on your skill level and preference. We learn and perfect our balance when we do yoga and can learn to balance our thoughts and manage our stress as well through this activity.
Change Your Diet
When we eat healthier, we feel healthier. When we feel healthier, we have more confidence. When we are more confident, we can take on stress in a more productive manner. A healthy diet can put us on the path of making more healthy choices, and all of this can have an impact on our stress level.
A healthier diet, along with increased physical activity, can really change the way you handle everything. People who suffer from chronic stress often employ these sorts of major lifestyle changes in order to escape the turmoil of feeling overwhelmed and lost in a busy and demanding world. Self-care can really make all the difference.
Sometimes we just need to complain. Venting to someone can be a step in the right direction from preventing daily stress from building up and taking over our lives.
Our stress level decreases when we are able to vent our issues and our worries to someone else that we trust. When we vent to a loved family member, friend or trusted colleague, we also open ourselves up to receive advice, which may give us even more strategies for managing stress.
Write in a Journal
Sometimes we don’t feel comfortable talking to a person about the things that bother us. We may think people won’t take us seriously, will judge us for our feelings, or will think we are just complaining because we’re petty. So we keep things to ourselves. In these cases, a journal may be the right choice for you.
Journals or diaries can be messy, neat, fragmented, or detailed. We can reflect on our thoughts and get our stresses out of our minds and down onto paper or our computer. Many people feel a huge sense of stress release when they journal.
It’s almost like you can dump your stress into the words you write and leave them there. Then you can walk away knowing that you don’t have to bear that weight anymore. You got it all out of your system, and you can move forward.
Intimacy comes in many forms. We can be intimate with friends or a partner by just being near someone. A hug, holding hands, or just being held can give us the assurance we need that we are not alone and we are cared for and supported.
It lets us know that we don’t have to carry the stress of living alone. Sharing intimacy with someone when we feel overwhelmed can be a very healthy practice in stress management.
Prayer and Spirituality
If you are a spiritual or religious person, you may find a tremendous amount of comfort and strength in the power of prayer. When we pray, we are asking for help, giving our thanks for the things we have and the blessing of life, and connecting with a higher power that we may put our faith in.
Attending church services, making the time to practice our spirituality, or speaking to a church or group leader can alleviate tension and put things in perspective for us. Stress doesn’t stand a chance when we are able to let go of our shortcomings and stressors and be grateful for what we have been blessed with.
Get back to what you enjoy. So many of us get so busy that our hobbies fall by the wayside, and we give up on what we enjoy doing. Work and the fast-paced world around us can stress us out so that when we do have downtime, we waste it just sitting around because we are so overwhelmed and filled with anxiety that we don’t know what to do with ourselves.
Invest in your hobbies. Sew, take photos, write, draw, play music, do a puzzle, take walks. The list of possible hobbies are endless. If you truly don’t have a hobby, take the time to find one. Think about what you enjoy doing. Think about things you’ve always been interested in or always wanted to try.
Once you find that hobby, you can join groups on social media or in your community to hone your skills and find people who share the same interests as you. You can start new friendships that revolve around something that you love. The stress is bound to dissipate when you are sharing your joy of something with others.
Watch a funny movie. Go and see a comedian perform. Do something silly. Laugh. When we laugh, we alleviate stress. Laughter and smiling reduces stress and makes us feel good.
Too many of us feel down or stressed and dwell on those feelings. Having a good laugh, even at ourselves, can boost our immune system and mood and reduce our stress.
Don’t Stress About Being Stressed
It is beneficial to keep in mind that you are not the only person trying to manage stress. Everyone deals with stress at least once a day. There’s no “one size fits all” cure for stress, and what works for one person may not work for you. Keep trying. The point is not to give up.
Sometimes we set ourselves up for failure by convincing ourselves that nothing we try is going to work, or we try one thing that is suggested to us, and we still feel stressed afterwards, so we stop trying.
Focus on your feelings and your passions, and seek out positive things that can help you to balance yourself. Take a break from what stresses you out and focus on the techniques that can lead you to inner peace and happiness. At the end of the day, you know yourself better than anyone else, and you can decide for yourself what works and what doesn’t.
Even with using some of the above-listed strategies, it can be beneficial to seek counseling from a professional. Getting more ideas for alleviating stress, learning to let go of trauma, and learning to deal head-on with stressors when we are confronted with them can benefit us immensely.
Perhaps there are underlying reasons why we have trouble managing our stress. Perhaps we have depression, anxiety, or another mood disorder. Seeking professional help can get us diagnosed and get us the help we need to address and fix most of our internal issues.
Don’t Give Up
Stress management can sometimes be just as hard as the stress itself. We get ourselves worked up and feel like we are in over our head and convince ourselves that nothing will help us. The best thing to do is to try a combination of different things, implement self-care in your daily life and start small.
Maybe not all of the strategies for managing stress on this list are right for you, but hopefully, it can inspire you to find the technique or practice that will work for you. You owe it to yourself to try.
Make sure to maintain a more positive perspective and positive attitude and don’t give up on your journey to becoming less stressed in your everyday life.