What Happens When We Dont Manage Stress Effectively
In small doses, stress can actually be useful as it helps you to stay focused, alert and increases energy. But when stress becomes chronic though, it can damage your health, mood and relationships. Basically, your overall quality of life!
Stress is sneaky! It can easily creep up on you so that being frazzled and overwhelmed starts to feel normal. You may not even recognize how much it is affecting you so it is really important to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and then take steps to stop feeling so overwhelmed.
Cut Out Things That Add To Your Stress
Sometimes, the best way to reduce your stress is to cut something out of your life. Get rid of the things that are adding to your stress so you can experience more peace.
Watching the news, being constantly connected to your digital devices, drinking alcohol, and consuming too much caffeine are just a few of the things that may add more stress to your life. Making some changes to your daily habits could be instrumental in helping you feel better.
Best Tips For Relieving Nighttime Stress
There are numerous strategies for relieving nighttime stress and anxiety before bedtime. If youre feeling too stressed to sleep, these approaches can help you relax. Some sleepers use only one or two of these relaxation strategies while others practice a combination of them. If stress and sleep are a chronic concern, your physician can help you determine what the best approach is for you.
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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
Improve Your Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is linked with your ability to deal with frustration. Emotional intelligence is your capacity to notice and evaluate emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to regulate the way you express your feelings.
You can improve your emotional intelligence by:
- Regulating yourself during moments of frustration and waiting for an appropriate moment to express yourself
- Practicing empathy for others, especially people who tend to frustrate you
- Remembering that all emotions are fleeting, including frustration
- Noticing your feelings so you can react appropriately
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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.
- Continue with routine preventive measures as recommended by your healthcare provider.
- Get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine when available.
Develop Techniques That Will Help You To Feel In Control Of Your Life
There is plenty of research that suggests that the single factor that causes most stress is feeling out of control.
One way that you can help yourself to avoid stress is to develop techniques to help you solve problems and make decisions more easily.
For example, one problem-solving technique involves writing down the problem and coming up with as many possible solutions as you can. Decide on the good and bad points of each one and select the best solution. Write down each step that you need to take as part of the solution: what will be done, how will it be done, when will it be done, who is involved and where will it take place.
There is more about this and other techniques in our series of pages on Problem-Solving and Decision-Making.
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Reduce A Worrys Power Over You
One very effective way to reduce a worrys power over you is by getting the negative thoughts out of your head and on to paper. Being able to see the worry in black and white helps give you more perspective.
Study your worries by keeping a Worry Diary.
Write down what you fear might happen and then later write down if what you were worried about actually happened, whether it was as bad as you expected, and what you did to cope with the situation.
This will help you understand your worries better, distinguish between worries that are useful and those that are useless, and help you realize that you can cope no matter what happens.
- Set aside some time during the day to worry your worry time. Select a time every day that is convenient for you and pick a suitable amount of time to worry . Use this time to think about your worries and about possible resolutions. It can be helpful to write things down. It will take time to train yourself not to dwell on worries at other times of the day or night.
- Practice is key here. What you can do if you worry outside of the set aside time is to write the worry down and put it in a worry box . Then, when its your official worry time, you can look at your worries and deal with them appropriately.
I hope you find these 6 tips useful. If you would like to read more about ways to overcome anxiety and worrying please take a look at my free booklet.
When clients first come in to see me, the main concerns that come up again and again are:
Tip : Identify Your Stress Response
Internally, we all respond the same way to the fight-or-flight stress response: your blood pressure rises, your heart pumps faster, and your muscles constrict. Your body works hard and drains your immune system. Externally, however, people respond to stress in different ways.
The best way to quickly relieve stress often relates to your specific stress response:
Overexcited stress response: If you tend to become angry, agitated, overly emotional, or keyed up under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that quiet you down.
Underexcited stress response: If you tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that are stimulating and energizing.
The immobilization or frozen stress response
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Take Action: Get Active
Regular physical activity can help prevent and manage stress. It can also help relax your muscles and improve your mood. So get active:
- Aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity try going for a bike ride or taking a walk
- Do strengthening activities like push-ups or lifting weights at least 2 days a week
Remember, any amount of physical activity is better than none!
Read more about:
Personal Problems That Can Cause Stress
- Your health, especially if you have a chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis
- Emotional problems, such as anger you can’t express, depression, grief, guilt, or low self-esteem
- Your relationships, such as having problems with your relationships or feeling a lack of friendships or support in your life
- Major life changes, such as dealing with the death of a parent or spouse, losing your job, getting married, or moving to a new city
- Stress in your family, such as having a child, teen, or other family member who is under stress, or being a caregiver to a family member who is elderly or who has health problems
- Conflicts with your beliefs and values. For example, you may value family life, but you may not be able to spend as much time with your family as you want.
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Have You Had Any Recent Major Life Changes
Life changes such as getting married, moving to a new city, or losing a job can all be stressful. You can’t always control these things, but you can control how you respond to them.
To find out your current stress level based on recent changes in your life, try this Interactive Tool: What Is Your Stress Level?
Give Someone A Hug Or Kiss
Hugs have been known to release oxytocin, which is a hormone that can lead to relaxation, trust, and compassion. Kissing, on the other hand, helps the brain to release endorphins.
“Kissing relieves stress by creating a sense of connectedness, which releases endorphins, the chemicals that counteract stress and depression,” says Laura Berman, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and ob-gyn at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
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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.
Identify Your Personal Stress Triggers
We all have particular situations or people that make us more stressed. Some of these are easily identifiable and may be avoidable. However, sometimes stress may build up over time, and result from a pattern of incidents or events, rather than a single trigger.
It may therefore be helpful to use a tool like our quiz Whats Stressing You Out? or keep a stress diary for a few weeks to help you identify what makes you stressed.
This will make it easier to take action to address your stress levels.
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Give Yourself A Squeeze
You know how your cat will go all rigid for a second, tensing all those kitty muscles and then relaxing them? That looks kind of good, right? Well, you can try it too or a version of it anyway.
Progressive relaxation involves tensing and releasing muscles, body part by body part. You may not have time to do your whole frame in five minutes, but just arms, shoulders, neck, and head will suffice.
Plan Out Your Move Ahead Of Time
Like anything in life, when it comes to moving, it helps to have a plan in place. âHaving a plan definitely makes moving less stressful, emotionally and financially,â Lee says. âFor instance, if you can contact your new building in advance and reserve the service elevator, call/email them now instead of waiting until two days before your move-in date.â Basically, the more issues you can foresee and take care of in advance, the better.
Basher agrees. âPlan ahead â donât start packing on moving day and donât start cleaning on moving day,â he says. âThe only thing you should be doing on moving day is moving.â He says this means physically moving furnishings and boxes from one place to the other. âThat task is demanding enough, so do not complicate it with packing, wrapping, and disassembling furniture,â Basher says.
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Do A Few Breathing Exercises
One of the oldest ways to gain control of your mind and your life is through breathing exercises. There are plenty of them to choose from, but studies have shown breathing exercises relieve tension and calm the mind. You can try something called Equal Breathing where you inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four. Keep a nice thought in your mind while you are doing this, such as breathing in beautiful bright light and breathing out stress.
Draw On Social Support
It’s also helpful to have the release and support of sharing your troubles with close friends, family, or loved ones. While its not healthy to constantly complain, talking to a trusted friend about your frustrations now and then can help you process whats going on and enable you to brainstorm solutions.
If you dont have someone youre comfortable sharing your situation with, seeing a therapist or starting a regular journaling practice have benefits as well.
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Helping Children And Youth Cope With Stress
Children and youth often struggle with how to cope with stress. Youth can be particularly overwhelmed when their stress is connected to a traumatic eventlike a natural disaster, family loss, school shootings, or community violence. Parents, caregivers, and educators can take steps to provide stability and support that help young people feel better.
Good Daytime Habits For Relieving Nighttime Stress
In addition to relaxation techniques, there are steps you can take during the day to relieve stress at night. A common aid is to exercise during the day. In addition to other health benefits, daytime exercise has been linked to better sleep in patients with generalized anxiety disorders. Exercise can also assist with issues such as insomnia. Another strategy for sleep hygiene overall is to wake up at a regular time. Even on the weekends, research shows that consistent wake times are an important component of sleep hygiene.
Keep in mind there is no exact schedule for how quickly youll be able to feel less stressed and anxious before going to sleep. However, consistent practice of relaxing techniques can help long-term. If you have questions or concerns about which strategy or strategies are right for you, consult your physician.
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Easy Ways To Make Your Life Less Stressful
We all have stress in our lives, but imagine if you could reduce your stress levels by making some small, simple and effective changes?
These 7 techniques will help to drastically reduce stress from your life and can easily be integrated into any lifestyle or routine.
1. Go to Bed Earlier and Wake Up Earlier
We all know how important sleep is. Going to bed earlier and waking up earlier can help you start the day off just right. If your mornings are chaotic, it is likely that the rest of your day will also follow this energy. To prevent this from happening, give yourself time in the morning so you can relax and get ready for your day at a more leisurely pace. You can even organize yourself the night before, so you can spend time in the morning doing things that you actually enjoy like reading, journaling, meditating and so on. You can even create your own power morning ritual.
2. Make Lists
Start your morning off by making a list of all the things you have to do. This will help you stay on track and keep you organized for the day ahead. It can also be satisfying to cross off or check each item as you complete it. If you find it overwhelming to make a list, try to only include things that are 100 percent necessary for you to do that day. This way, it will stop you from feeling overwhelmed and help you to know definitively what needs to be done and what will just have to wait for another day.
3. Dont Worry About What You Cant Control
4. Learn to Say No
6. Eat Well
Try To Be More Type B
There are people who are just more mentally relaxed than others, and these Type B personalities likely suffer from fewer psychological-related illnesses, says Anisman.
But if you are Type A, you can modify many of the features associated with that personality through mindfulness meditation. This is a combination of meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy, which is taught by a therapist and helps you learn to change your perspective to a more positive one.
Explains Anisman, Mindfulness meditationteaches you to think in the moment, to not worry about tomorrow, as it will take care of itself or you will take care of it.
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