The Importance Of Managing Stress
If youre living with high levels of stress, youre putting your entire well-being at risk. Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional equilibrium, as well as your physical health. It narrows your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life. It may seem like theres nothing you can do about stress. The bills wont stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day, and your work and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control than you might think.
Effective stress management helps you break the hold stress has on your life, so you can be happier, healthier, and more productive. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and funand the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on. But stress management is not one-size-fits-all. Thats why its important to experiment and find out what works best for you. The following stress management tips can help you do that.
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How To Answer How Do You Handle Stress
To answer this question successfully, you’ll want to provide specific examples of how you’ve handled stress well in the past. You might also provide examples of times when pressure actually made you work more productively.
Be careful how you respond. If you say you get stressed when you’re given multiple projects, and you know the job will require you to juggle many assignments at once, youll look like you’re not a good fit for the position.
Consider mentioning how a little stress can be a helpful motivator for you. Try to provide an example of a time when the stress of a difficult project helped you be a more creative and productive worker.
But Is All Stress Bad
Not necessarily. In life-threatening situations, stress tells us to prepare to fight or flee. As NIMH explains, “your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense and your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity all functions aimed at survival and in response to stress.”
And, it’s useful when we’re not faced with a dangerous situation, too. Research from as long ago as 1908 the Yerkes-Dodson Law suggests that there’s an ‘optimal’ intersection between stress and performance.
And, although too much can lead to burnout, this optimal point could be particularly useful in our working lives. As this McKinsey & Company article explains, understanding and identifying our own stress can help us manage it effectively and improve performance.
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How Do We Manage Stress
Since stress is a normal part of everyones life, you have the choice to either grow from it or sink with it. Always choose the path to growth. Take action. Your positive response towards this experience can later on minimize the pain from it and help you get back on track.
- SEEK HELP
Seeking help and support from your friends and loved ones is always a step ahead from experiencing a prolonged stress. Manage it by getting it out there. In other words, being able to talk about it out loud will lessen its weight.
- EAT HEALTHY AND LIVE HEALTHY
A happy body is a happy person. Treating yourself to a good 15-minute exercise or a good plate of fruits and vegetables is the way to go! This helps you release the happy hormones that you need. Thus, the better you feel about yourself, the lesser negativity you attract.
- TAKE A BREAK EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE
Manage your stress by getting ahead of it. There is nothing wrong with taking a break every once in a while. This will help you recharge and be more productive. Because doing everything on your own on longer hours will just do you bad in a long run.
Therefore, if you cant handle your tasks by yourself anymore, getting a Virtual Assistant might be just for you! Dont let stress distract you for the important things. Focus on the big picture and let a virtual assistant take care of the rest.
Learn To Avoid Procrastination
Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating.
Procrastination can lead you to act reactively, leaving you scrambling to catch up. This can cause stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality .
Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list.
Work on the things that need to get done today and give yourself chunks of uninterrupted time, as switching between tasks or multitasking can be stressful itself.
Prioritize what needs to get done and make time for it. Staying on top of your to-do list can help ward off procrastination-related stress.
Yoga has become a popular method of stress relief and exercise among all age groups.
While yoga styles differ, most share a common goal to join your body and mind.
Yoga primarily does this by increasing body and breath awareness.
Some studies have examined yogas effect on mental health. Overall, research has found that yoga can enhance mood and may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety .
However, many of these studies are limited, and there are still questions about how yoga works to achieve stress reduction.
In general, the benefit of yoga for stress and anxiety seems to be related to its effect on your nervous system and stress response.
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Start Your Day Off Right
After scrambling to get the kids fed and off to school, dodging traffic and combating road rage, and gulping down coffee in lieu of a healthy breakfast, many people arrive to work already stressed. This makes them more reactive to stress in the workplace.
You might be surprised by how affected by workplace stress you are when you have a stressful morning. When you start off the day with planning, good nutrition, and a positive attitude, you might find that the stress of your job rolls off your back more easily.
Important Questions About Stress
- Stress can have short- and long-term consequences for our health.
- In certain situations, it can be useful to improve performance or help us deal with life-threatening situations.
- But, to avoid it becoming chronic, and negatively impacting our health, it’s important to effectively identify and manage stress.
The past 18 months have felt particularly stressful for billions around the globe.
The impact of COVID-19 has disrupted livelihoods and millions of lives have been lost. Add to that the uncertainty the pandemic has caused and the challenges of lockdowns, home-schooling and more, and it’s not surprising surveys have reported increased stress levels.
But what impact does stress have on our health? Does it have any benefits? And what can we do to manage it?
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Acute Versus Chronic Stress
The experience of stress can be either acute or chronic. Acute stress usually occurs in response to a short-term stressor, like a car accident or an argument with your spouse. Acute stress can be very distressing, but it passes quickly and typically responds well to coping techniques like calming breathing or brisk physical activity.
Chronic stress occurs when stressors dont let up. The roots of chronic stress can vary widely, from situations people can control or avoid to difficulties that are hard to escape . Because people respond differently to stressful circumstances, a situation that one person might find tolerable can become a source of chronic stress for another.
Chronic stress can damage both mental and physical health. Being chronically stressed may leave you feeling fatigued, sap your ability to concentrate and cause headaches and digestive difficulties. People prone to irritable bowel syndrome often find that their symptoms spike with psychological stress.15 Though acute stress can heighten certain immune responses, the wear-and-tear of chronic stress is bad for the immune system.16 Chronic stress can also affect cardiac health, with multiple studies finding a link between chronic stress and the development of coronary artery disease.17
The American Psychological Association gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Beverly Thorn, PhD, in developing this fact sheet.
Simple Ways To Deal With Stress At Work
Research has indicated that the percentage of Americans who are stressed at work is highand its only getting higher. According to a survey of more than 2,000 full-time U.S. employees, ages 18-79, more than half of employees find themselves stressed during at least 60 percent of the workweek.
Work stress has significant health consequences that range from relatively benign to potentially serious .
While stress at work is common, finding a low-stress job is hard . A more realistic approach is to adopt effective coping strategies to reduce stress at your current job. Here are some stress management techniques you can try if you are finding it hard to cope with work stress
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How Can You Help Yourself
Stress is a natural reaction to many situations in life, such as work, family, relationships and money problems.
We mentioned earlier on that a moderate amount of stress can help us perform better in challenging situations,34 but too much or prolonged stress can lead to physical problems. This can include lower immunity levels,35 digestive and intestinal difficulties, e.g. irritable bowel syndrome ,36 or mental health problems such as depression.37 It is therefore important that we manage our stress and keep it at a healthy level to prevent long-term damage to our bodies and minds.
Why We Feel Stressed
As stress is more likely becoming a part of everyones life, it is important to know where the stress is coming from. One of the main reasons we experience this is because of our lack to control specific things. With that, humans tend to worry about things that are unable to be changed. This can cause a lot of pressure, which prevents us from thinking straight and then results to unwanted circumstances.
On the other hand, you may also get this from trying to get to greater heights. And that is normal. There is a way to get through it. That occurrence is not negative at all. It may help you in assessing your habits and your priorities. To help, you can develop an effective way in managing stress.
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Best Ways To Manage Stress
Meditation can trigger the antidote to stress, called the relaxation response.
Goal setting and relaxation techniques reduce stress and ease the physical and emotional burdenit can take.
Stressful experiences come in many forms, such as a demanding job, a chronic disease, or an argument with a loved one. But all types of stressorseven stress from positive experiences,such as planning a partycan result in the same physical and emotional burden on health, especially when you’re an older adult. “As we age, our immune systems are less efficient, and adding stress to that can lead to disease progression or the onset of disease,” says Dr. Ann Webster, a health psychologist at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Manage Problemsto Be In Charge
If we can manage or solve a problem, we are more likely to confront it rather than avoid it. Of course, it is important to know what the real problem is.
When we notice how our thoughts affect our emotions, we know what words to choose to manage our emotions. When we know we can manage our emotions, not become angry, lose our temper, cry, etc., we are in control. We are confident.
Choosing our thoughts can help us to adapt to a situation. Suppose a person has planned a day outdoors on vacation. It rains. He decides to play games with others who want to play games rather than complain about the rain.
If we want to be in control of our stress, and thus our life, each of us needs to take control of our thoughts. When we do, we can choose thoughts that lead us to make the decision to take the needed action. Each of us has the power to choose. And we can choose our thoughts. Then, does stress become a choice?
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Listen To Soothing Music
Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body.
Slow-paced instrumental music can induce the relaxation response by helping lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones.
Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be particularly soothing, but simply listening to the music you enjoy is effective too .
Nature sounds can also be very calming. This is why theyre often incorporated into relaxation and meditation music.
Tips To Manage Stressful Situations
It might surprise you to learn that biological stress is a fairly recent discovery. It wasnt until the late 1950s that endocrinologist Hans Selye first identified and documented stress.
Symptoms of stress existed long before Selye, but his discoveries led to new research that has helped millions cope with stress. Weve compiled a list of the top 10 ways to relieve stress.
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Remember To Seek Help And Support When You Need It
Remember, that it is okay to ask for professional help. If you feel that you are struggling to manage on your own, then you can reach out. It is important to know that you can get help as soon as possible, and that you deserve to get better.
The first person to approach is your family doctor. He or she should be able to give advice about treatment, and may refer you to another local professional. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness based approaches are known to help reduce stress. There are also a number of voluntary organisations which can help you to tackle the causes of stress and advise you about ways to get better.
Anxiety UK runs a helpline staffed by volunteers with personal experience of anxiety from 9:30-5:30, Monday to Friday. Call 08444 775 774.
Citizens Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice for a range of problems as well as providing information on your rights and responsibilities.
StepChange provides help and information for people dealing with a range of debt problems. Freephone 0800 138 1111.
Mind provides information on a range of mental health topics to support people in their own area from 9.00am to 6.00pm, Monday to Friday. Call 0300 123 3393 or email .
Rethink Advice and Information Service
Rethink provide specific solution-based guidance – 0300 5000927 Fax: 020 7820 1149 email .
Specialist mental health services
Spend Time With Friends And Family
Social support from friends and family can help you get through stressful times.
Being part of a friend network gives you a sense of belonging and self-worth, which can help you in tough times.
One study found that for women in particular, spending time with friends and children helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. This effect is called tend and befriend, and is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response .
Keep in mind that both men and women benefit from friendship.
Another study found that men and women with the fewest social connections were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety .
Having strong social ties may help you get through stressful times and lower your risk of anxiety.
Its hard to feel anxious when youre laughing. Its good for your health, and there are a few ways it may help relieve stress:
- Relieving your stress response.
- Relieving tension by relaxing your muscles.
In the long term, laughter can also help improve your immune system and mood.
A study among people with cancer found that people in the laughter intervention group experienced more stress relief than those who were simply distracted (
Try watching a funny TV show or hanging out with friends who make you laugh.
Find the humor in everyday life, spend time with funny friends or watch a comedy show to help relieve stress.
Not all stressors are within your control, but some are.
One way to do this may be to say no more often.
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Ways To Manage Stress
Because reacting in the moment can often create more stress, its important to pause and take a minute to engage in gentle self care and take the space you need to gain better understanding and perspective before taking action. Taking the space and time you need to understand what is happening makes it more likely that you will find healthy solutions and also helps you understand yourself and your patterns better both of which will help the next time! So while the following list includes some effective techniques, its important to find those that work best for you and your unique situation. And of course, if you find that your stress levels are accelerating or out of control, we recommend you get help immediately.
How Can I Identify The Signs Of Stress
Everyone experiences stress. However, when it is affecting your life, health and wellbeing, it is important to tackle it as soon as possible, and while stress affects everyone differently, there are common signs and symptoms you can look out for:15
- feelings of constant worry or anxiety
- feelings of being overwhelmed
7. Dont be too hard on yourself
- Try to keep things in perspective.
- Remember that having a bad day is a universal human experience
- When your inner critic or an outer critic finds faults, try and find truth and exception to what is being said
- If you stumble or feel you have failed, dont beat yourself up
- Act as if you were your own best friend: be kind and supportive
- Take a few minutes each day to appreciate yourself
Now, we would like to move on to a more detailed look at the causes and effects of stress. In this section we will focus on the effects prolonged stress has on your body, behaviour and emotions, and look at key causes such as relationships, money, work, alcohol and drug use.
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