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What Are Healthy Ways To Cope With Stress

Stress And How To Cope With It

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Stress is our body’s response to pressure that manifests itself in many different ways. It’s the feeling of being overwhelmed and finding it hard to cope emotionally or mentally. Taking time to identify the emotional and mental pressures in our lives and addressing them is a good way to understand and protect our mental health. We’ve got lots of tips to help you manage stress and avoid it becoming chronic or leading to burnout.

Did You Know That Stress Affects Everyone

Did you know that stress affects everyone? They happen in adults and children, even babies get stressed out. Its a normal reaction of the body when faced with changes or demanding situations. You may notice it when you are managing your finances, your projects deadline is coming up, when youre about to have a child, or if you or a loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness.

Stress is a normal part of life, especially now that were in a very fast-paced world. However, while some stress is good for you, too much of it may make you sick. If left unchecked, stress can cause many health problems including obesity, heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and high blood pressure.

So the first step to coping with stress is to recognize its symptoms. Many people are so used to feeling stressed that sometimes they dont know they are stressed out until they are about to break. Here are the signs you have to look out for:

Physical Symptoms

  • Loss of sexual desire and ability

Emotional Symptoms

  • Difficulty in relaxing or silencing your mind
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling lonely, helpless, and worthless
  • Isolating yourself

If you notice these symptoms, taking steps to cope with your stress may prevent you from going on a downward spiral.

Why Is Stress Bad For Us

We need the bodys stress response to get us through tough times. When you sense a threat or danger, your body rises to the challenge by releasing stress hormones, tightening your muscles, making your blood pressure rise and your heart and lungs work harder, and releasing a surge of fat and sugar to give you energy. When danger subsides, your body goes back to normal operations.

If you get stressed out frequently, however, the stress response can become constant and cause ongoing harm, including chronic inflammation the persistent activation of the immune system, which sharply raises the risks for many diseases such as dementia, heart disease, and stroke.

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Follow A Daily Routine

Coming up with a structured plan for each day with clear boundaries between your working and private life will give you a sense of control amid the uncertainty. Try to divide your day into small activities and make sure you build in time to do things you enjoy, from pursuing your hobbies or exercising to spending time with your children or pets. Moreover, set a daily routine for work: take regular breaks, leave your desk for lunch, and have a fixed time to turn off. Additionally, focus on getting enough sleep and regularly eating healthy meals.

Read MHEs guide on how to look after your mental health during the coronavirus crisis > >

Avoid Drinking Too Much Caffeine

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Caffeine increases your anxiety and makes you palpitate. So avoid drinking too much coffee, caffeinated sodas, black tea, and anything with caffeine in it. According to a study entitled Caffeine, Stress, and Brain Function, caffeine can increase your stress level and it doesnt matter whether you are using it regularly or occasionally.

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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

For full details on tips on getting a good nights sleep read our guide How to sleep better and ten top tips for good sleep

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.

Clean Your Room Desk Or Dishes

Besides removing clutter and giving you relief from a crowded space, cleaning is an effective mindfulness practice. One study found that students who washed dishes had greater states of mindfulness and positive moods.

If you dont have time to clean thoroughly, take this opportunity to organize items or tackle one cleaning task at a time. For example, if you have a load of laundry, use each washing and drying load to time your breaks.

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Can Stress Be A Good Thing

Sometimes, stress can have a positive effect on your thoughts, emotions, behaviours and body reactions. Stress is more likely to result in positive outcomes if you see it as a challenge or something you can strive to overcome. It can help motivate you to work hard. Stress can also lead to positive effects if you respond with healthy behaviours that improve your situation. You can experience the positive effects of stress even in the face of some negative effects.

Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation

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Progressive muscle relaxation involves relaxing all the muscles in your body, group by group. To practice, you can start with a few deep breaths.

Then, practice tightening and relaxing each muscle group, starting with your forehead and moving down to your toes.

With practice, you’ll learn to recognize tension and tightness in your muscles and you’ll be able to relax more easily. Each time you practice, however, you should experience a feeling of relaxation sweeping through your body.

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Six Ways To Cope With Stress

The end of the semester can be a stressful time, so it’s important to make sure you take care of yourself and find healthy ways to deal with the extra stress and anxiety this time of the year can bring.

Here are six ways to cope with stress:

De-Stress With CAPS at Play Day

One way to take the edge off looming projects, papers and exams this week, is at Pat Walker Health Center’s Counseling and Psychological Services end-of-the-semester Play Day, happening from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7, in the Arkansas Union Connections Lounge.

This day is designed help students take a moment, relax and have fun in the days leading up to finals. “This is easily one of our favorite events of the year because we get to help students learn how to practice relaxing” said Elizabeth Stout, Ph.D, mental health clinician and outreach coordinator for CAPS. “We encourage students to come by and take a moment to have fun and learn about how they can better manager their stress during finals time.”

Play Day will include many different activities for students to help relieve stress such as henna tattoos, yoga demonstrations, coloring, building with Legos, popping bubble wrap, and of course play dates with dogs from Fayetteville Animal Services.

CAPS will also have on-site clinicians to help discuss tips with students and promote wellness.

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Articulate Your Stress By Writing It Down Or Speaking To Someone About It

Everything seems much more frightening and awful in your head. Therefore, by writing down your thoughts and emotions regarding a current stressor, youre able to give stress a physical, less intimidating, and tangible existence. While it seems counterintuitive to write what about is upsetting, you eventually come to relax once the words have sunk onto the paper. By writing, youre able to look back on the stressor, develop awareness over how it was making you feel and function, and eventually develop a calm way to face it.

An alternative way to articulating your stress is to speak to someone you trust. Whether thats a friend, a parent, or a therapist, you can bet that a weight will feel lifted off your chest and shoulders. Its due to the assurance that someone you trust is hearing you out, listening to you attentively, and can ease the burden by simply acknowledging your issue or relating to you in their own way. Plus, talking to another person wont make you feel alone.

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What Are Some Common Coping Strategies

Some common coping mechanisms may challenge you to:

  • Lower your expectations.
  • Ask others to help or assist you.
  • Take responsibility for the situation.
  • Engage in problem solving.
  • Maintain emotional composure or, alternatively, expressing distressing emotions.
  • Challenge previously held beliefs that are no longer adaptive.
  • Directly attempt to change the source of stress.
  • Distance yourself from the source of stress.
  • View the problem through a religious perspective.

Experts agree that coping is a process rather than an event. You may alternate between several of the above coping strategies in order to cope with a stressful event.

People differ in particular styles of coping or prefer to use certain coping strategies over others. These differences in coping styles usually reflect differences in personality. Rigidity in coping is less likely to help than is flexibility in coping being able to fit the most appropriate coping strategy to the demands of different situations.

However, some situations that require coping are likely to elicit similar coping responses from most people. For example, work-related stressors are more likely to elicit problem-solving strategies. Stressors that are perceived to be changeable are more likely to elicit problem-solving strategies while stressors perceived to be unchangeable are more likely to elicit social support seeking and emotion-focused strategies.

  • Get enough good quality sleep.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.

Know Your Stressors In Advance

How to Reduce, Prevent and Cope with Stress

When you are able to identify your stressors in advance, you can make changes to reduce the stress. For example, if you know that running late is a cause of stress, you can make a change by setting your alarm 20 minutes earlier or by giving yourself extra time to reach an appointment. If you become stressed by work deadlines, work on prioritizing projects better. By planning ahead, you can reduce the stress in many instances.

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Make Time For Leisure Activities

Leisure activities can be a wonderful way to relieve stress. Yet, many people feel as though their lives are too busy for hobbies, games, or extra fun.

But building time for leisure into your schedule could be key to helping you feel your best. And when you feel better, you’ll perform better, which means leisure time may make your work time more efficient.

Whether you find joy in caring for a garden or you like making quilts, hobbies and leisure are key to living your best life.

Tips For Reducing Or Controlling Stress

If you are feeling stressed, there are steps you can take to feel better. As you read the following suggestions, remember that conquering stress will not come from a half-hearted effort, nor will it come overnight. It will take determination, persistence and time. Some suggestions may help immediately, but if your stress level doesnt seem to improve, it may require more attention and/or lifestyle changes.

Be realistic. If you feel overwhelmed by some activities , learn to say NO! Eliminate an activity that is not absolutely necessary. You may be taking on more responsibility than you can or should handle. If you meet resistance, give reasons why youre making the changes. Be willing to listen to others suggestions and be ready to compromise.

Shed the superman/superwoman urge. No one is perfect, so dont expect perfection from yourself or others. Ask yourself, What really needs to be done? How much can I do? Is the deadline realistic? What adjustments can I make? Dont hesitate to ask for help if you need it.

Meditate. Just ten to twenty minutes of quiet reflection may bring relief from chronic stress as well as increase your tolerance to it. Use the time to listen to music, relax and try to think of pleasant things or nothing.

Exercise. Regular exercise is a popular way to relieve stress. Twenty to thirty minutes of physical activity benefits both the body and the mind.

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Who Is Affected By Stress

All of us can probably recognise some of the feelings described above. Some people seem to be more affected by stress than others. For some people, getting out of the door on time each morning can be a very stressful experience, whereas others may be less affected with a great deal of pressure.

Some people are more likely to experience stressful situations than others. For example:

Accept The Things You Can’t Change

BOUNCE BACK to reduce your stress!

Changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible. Try to concentrate on the things you do have control over.

“If your company is going under and is making redundancies, for example, there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Professor Cooper.

“In a situation like that, you need to focus on the things that you can control, such as looking for a new job.”

Also Check: How To Help Someone With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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 .

summary

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.

summary

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.

Exercise But Make It Daily

We mentioned walking earlier, but that was just a quick break. Routine exercise can help improve the way your body uses oxygen and helps you cope with stressful situations. The benefits of working out build up over time. You may be able to feel the difference as you stick to your routine.

Its recommended to exercise for at least 30 minutes five days a week.

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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.

  • Eat and drink to optimize your health. Some people try to reduce stress by drinking alcohol or eating too much. These actions may seem to help in the moment, but actually may add to stress in the long run. Caffeine also can compound the effects of stress. Consuming a healthy, balanced diet can help to combat stress.
  • Exercise regularly. In addition to having physical health benefits, exercise has been shown to be a powerful stress reliever. Consider non-competitive aerobic exercise, strengthening with weights, or movement activities like yoga or Tai Chi, and set reasonable goals for yourself. Aerobic exercise has been shown to release endorphinsnatural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude.
  • Stop using tobacco and nicotine products. People who use nicotine often refer to it as a stress reliever. However, nicotine actually places more stress on the body by increasing physical arousal and reducing blood flow and breathing.
  • There are several other methods you can use to relax or reduce stress, including:

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    Overwhelmed? Meet Top Ways to Manage Your Stress
    • Most people feel stressed sometimes.
    • Some stress can be helpful. Too much stress may make you ill.
    • Stress affects everyone differently, but there are common signs you can look out for.
    • There are many different causes of stress. Stress is not an illness itself. But it can make you unwell if it is very bad or if it lasts a long time.
    • You might not be able to avoid stress but there are things you can do to manage it.

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