Try Some Stereotypical Relaxation Activities
Lighting a candle, having a cup of tea, or taking a bubble bath may seem like cliched approaches to managing stress, but theres a reason why these activities are so popular. First, they engage your senses, potentially providing a potent distraction from your worries. Second, theyre just plain enjoyable, making them particularly pleasant ways to take a break.
A scented candle or essential-oil diffuser provides one sensory experience that you might enjoy. The warmth of a long soak in the tub can physically help to ease muscle tension or soreness that you may have accumulated due to stress. Simply taking some time to lay down and rest, away from schoolwork and electronics and perhaps with a good book or some music, can also be very relaxing and rejuvenating.
Other spa treatments are popular too, of course. Whether youre into face masks, foot soaks, saunas, or scrubs, these activities can be really enjoyable, and are especially fitting if, for example, youre experiencing skin problems due to stress. Knowing that youre taking care of your physical self in one particular way can help you to relax in other ways.
Managing Stress During The Interview
Job interviews are stressful for most people. Even if you’ve interviewed a lot, it can still be challenging to stay calm and collected. You’re meeting new people in a new environment, and you’re trying to sell your credentials to someone who might be your next boss.
There are strategies you can use to handle interview stress and to sell yourself to the hiring manager.
A big part of handling stress is preparation. Be sure to research the company in advance and practice answering common interview questions. The more you practice, the more comfortable youll feel in the interview.
You can also reduce stress by avoiding negative thinking . Instead, visualize having a successful interview . Do this visualization in the hours right before the interview.
Use these relaxation techniques. If you start to feel stressed just before the interview, try taking a deep breath or two to relax. During the interview, feel free to take a breath or a sip of water before answering a question. This will give you some time to compose yourself and prepare your answer.
Watch your body language. Your body language during the interview can also help convey that you’re relaxed. Try to avoid fidgeting too much. Stand up straight and look the interviewer in the eye . By appearing calm and confident, you are more likely to feel calm and confident.
Being able to effectively handle a stressful job interview will indicate to employers that you’ll also be able to handle workplace stress.
Map Your Social Network
During times of high stress we have a tendency to retreat. We cancel social plans and focus on the work, money crisis or trauma that is our source of stress. But friends and social support are among the best forms of therapy to help you escape stress for brief periods of time. Friends can also make you feel better about yourself, and that mountain of stress in your life wont look so steep.
When Dr. Southwick, Yale Medical School psychiatrist, co-wrote his book on resilience, he interviewed a number of people who had shown resilience against all odds, including former prisoners of war and people who had survived trauma. One thing they had in common was social support.
The resilient people we interviewed actively reached out for support, said Dr. Southwick. They dont sit around and wait.
Even POWs held in isolation devised a tapping method of communication with their fellow prisoners. Most, if not all, said it was life-saving to know they werent alone and they were cared for, said Dr. Southwick.
When Dr. Southwick, a psychiatrist, meets with a new patient, one of the first things he does is construct a diagram of the patients social network. Sometimes they just talk about it some patients want to map it out on paper. Who is in your life? Who can you count on? asks Dr. Southwick. Make your own list of your social network and keep it handy when you need to call on someone for support.
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How To Handle Stress In The Moment
You hear a lot of advice about how to reduce stress at work. But most of it is about what to do over the long term take up yoga, eat a healthy diet, keep a journal, or get more sleep. But what do you do when youre overcome with stress in the moment at your desk, say, or in a meeting? Perhaps youve heard bad news from a client or were assigned yet another project. How can you regain control?
What the ExpertsSayEighty percent of Americans are stressed at work, according to a recent study by Nielsen for Everest College. Low pay, unreasonable workloads, and hectic commutes were the top sources of tension, followed closely by obnoxious coworkers. What exacerbates the problem is that people walk into work already laden with stress, says Maria Gonzalez, the founder and president of Argonauta Strategic Alliances Consulting and the author of Mindful Leadership. If there is a hardship at home, you bring that to the office and it gets layered with your professional stress and if youre not careful it can spiral out of control. How well you react to and manage daily stressors impacts your relationships with other people, with yourself, and how others perceive you, she says. Justin Menkes, a consultant at Spencer Stuart and the author of Better Under Pressure says its critical to get a handle on your reaction to the stressful things that happen to you in the moment. Here are some techniques to do just that.
More on reducing stress:
Common Sources Of Work Stress
Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. Some common workplace stressors are:
- Low salaries
- Few opportunities for growth or advancement
- Work that isnt engaging or challenging
- Lack of social support
- Not having enough control over job-related decisions
- Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations
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Up Your Avoidance Of Caffeine Alcohol And Nicotine
We previously said that it was a good idea not to have too much caffeine, alcohol and nicotine as a way to avoid stress. If you are already feeling stressed, this becomes even more important. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and so will increase your level of stress rather than reduce it.
Alcohol is a depressant when taken in large quantities, but acts as a stimulant in smaller quantities. Using alcohol as a way to alleviate stress is therefore not ultimately helpful.
Swap caffeinated and alcoholic drinks for water, herbal teas, or diluted natural fruit juices and aim to keep yourself hydrated. This will enable your body to cope better with stress.
You should also aim to avoid or reduce your intake of refined sugars – they are contained in many manufactured foods and can cause energy crashes which may lead you to feel tired and irritable.
There is more about this in our page What are Carbohydrates?.
Build Strong Positive Relationships With People Who Make You Feel Goodand Avoid Those Who Dont
Research suggests that stress builds up over time, through multiple small interactions with others. By themselves, few single incidents are intrinsically stressful. However, put them together, and the story is very different.
It is hard to avoid these micro-stressors, because they are too frequent and too pervasive. However, there are ways to address them, and the most important is to focus on your relationships with others. Research suggests that the two most important things you can do are to build strong relationships and connections with people who make you feel good, and avoid those who dont.
There is more about this in our page on Micro-Stressors.
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How To Identify Your Current Stress Levels
Stress can have a negative impact on your health and productivity. There are many warning signs that you’re experiencing high levels of workplace stress.
Physical symptoms of stress include frequent headaches or muscle tension, persistent sleeplessness, and stomach upsets. You may also experience significant changes in your weight.
Psychologically, you may be irritable, depressed, and experience prolonged difficulty in concentrating. If continuous stress starts to cause burnout, you may also find that you lose interest in your work and hobbies, and become socially withdrawn.
to explore your current levels of long-term stress.
Stress is not the same as pressure.A manageable level of pressure can actually help you to perform at your best. However, if pressure increases to a point where you no longer feel in control, the result is stress. Unlike pressure, stress is never positive.
Healthy Ways To Cope With Stress
Feeling emotional and nervous or having trouble sleeping and eating can all be normal reactions to stress. Here are some healthy ways you can deal with stress:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Its good to be informed but hearing about the traumatic event constantly can be upsetting. Consider limiting news to just a couple of times a day and disconnecting from phone, tv, and computer screens for a while.
- Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and give yourself a break if you feel stressed out.
- Take care of your body.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditateexternal icon.
- Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use.
- Continue with routine preventive measures as recommended by your healthcare provider.
- Get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible get a booster shot if you are age 18 or older.
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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
Treatment For High Stress
There are some cases where you can treat high stress at home without medical intervention, but this typically only works for temporary bouts of high stress. Techniques to help you cope with short-term anxiety and high stress include:
Stress management by limiting potential triggers
Relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga
Getting regular exercise, which reduces inflammation and helps you to release stress from the day
Eating a balanced diet full of antioxidants that prevent oxidative damage associated with high stress
A lack of sleep is also proven to increase the production of stress hormones, so getting restful sleep so your body can recharge is essential.
Limiting caffeine and alcohol, which can exacerbate symptoms of stress and anxiety
Making time for hobbies, and allowing time to enjoy and relax
Having a support network to talk about stressful events
For chronic high stress, more intense treatment is needed, such as counseling and medications. Counseling can help with psychological causes of high stress and anxiety by helping the person to identify what is triggering the stress. In doing so, they can change the patterns of behavior and thoughts that cause stress.
Medications like antidepressants and benzodiazepines can also help to reduce stress at a chemical level in the brain. By changing the neurotransmitter levels in the brain, symptoms of high stress can be reduced.
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What Does Stress Do To You
Job stress has many negative consequences. If you leave it unmanaged, it can affect your health, productivity, well-being, and career.
For example, a study conducted by researchers at University College London found that professionals who work in high-stress environments are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and high cholesterol.
Long-term, research shows that unmanaged stress can weaken your immune system, cause chronic muscle pain or sleeplessness, and contribute to obesity. It can lead to a number of psychological conditions, such as anxiety or depression, and it may cause relationship problems with co-workers.
Research published in “The Handbook of Organizational Behavior” shows that burnout is a likely consequence of long-term job stress, leading to lowered productivity and higher absenteeism.
Stress can cause severe health problems and, in extreme cases, death.
While these stress-management techniques have been shown to have a positive effect on reducing stress, they are for guidance only, and readers should take the advice of qualified health professionals if they have any concerns over stress-related illnesses or if stress is causing significant or persistent unhappiness.
Health professionals should also be consulted before any major change in diet or levels of exercise.
Talk About Your Problems
If things are bothering you, talking about them can help lower your stress. You can talk to family members, friends, a trusted clergyman, your doctor, or a therapist.
And you can also talk to yourself. Itâs called self-talk and we all do it. But in order for self-talk to help reduce stress you need to make sure itâs positive and not negative.
So listen closely to what youâre thinking or saying when youâre stressed out. If youâre giving yourself a negative message, change it to a positive one. For example, donât tell yourself âI canât do this.â Tell yourself instead: âI can do this,â or âIâm doing the best I can.â
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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.
How Can We Handle Stress In Healthy Ways
Stress serves an important purposeit enables us to respond quickly to threats and avoid danger. However, lengthy exposure to stress may lead to mental health difficulties or increased physical health problems. A large body of research suggests that increased stress levels interfere with your ability to deal with physical illness. While no one can avoid all stress, you can work to handle it in healthy ways that increase your potential to recover.
There are several other methods you can use to relax or reduce stress, including:
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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.