Stress is everywhere. You will be able to find shadows of it in the various tasks and chores that you have to carry out, be it at the workplace or at home. Although everyone is familiar with it, not many will be able to explain what it actually is. So what is stress? Well, stress is actually how your body responds to various situations in your life.
This may refer to the tension you feel when you have just relocated to a new neighborhood, or even a different country, and you are trying to adjust to the changes in your life. You may also feel stressed when something which you are unprepared for occurs. As such, you may panic or find yourself easily agitated by trivial matters. If you constantly feel stressed and distressed, then it is definitely time for you to learn how to manage your level of stress so as to prevent it from taking a toll on your well being.
Of course, stress does not necessarily have to be bad. This is because appropriate amounts of stress can actually be a good source of motivation. It will drive you to strive harder to achieve your goals.
The first step to managing stress is probably regulating your thoughts and reorganizing your life. This will help you to feel better and approach everything with a positive outlook. From listening to music to talking it out with your family and friends, there are numerous ways of managing stress. There are no wrong or right ways to deal with stress. If something does not work for you, then it may simply be not suitable for you. You should not let that stop you. Instead, try out the different methods until you find one that is best for you.
- 1 Stress Management
- 2 Stress Relief: How to handle your Stress
- 3 Social Support for Managing Stress
- 4 Using the Relaxation Response to Relieve Stress
- 4.1 When the relaxation response is activated, your:
- 4.2 Deep breathing
- 4.3 Progressive muscle relaxation
- 4.4 Mindfulness meditation
- 4.5 Body scan meditation
- 4.6 Rhythmic movement and mindful exercise
- 4.7 Visualization
Stress is something that everyone has to deal with in day to day lives. Every minute of each day, you may be experiencing different levels of stress, without even noticing it. However, when it rises above a threshold level, you will start to feel the anxiety. You may also be easily agitated or feel fatigue due to the stress you are experiencing. As such, during such situations, you will feel prompted to look for ways to relax of unwind.
Since you can never get rid of stress permanently, it is important for you to employ good stress management techniques, so that you will be able to deal with it on a daily basis. Aside from that, you will also be able to respond better in stressful situations, whether at home or at the office.
One of the best ways through which you can manage stress would be to maintain a healthy lifestyle. To achieve this, you can try to do a bit of exercise every day, so that you will able to relieve your stress by using it as a source of energy. This does not necessarily mean that you need to go to your gym on a daily basis. All you have to do is to gradually increase the amount of your physical activities you do every day, especially if you have not been getting regular exercise for quite some time now. Abrupt changes in your lifestyle may cause you to overexert your body, so you should try to slowly ease yourself into getting used to an exercise routine.
To start it off, you can do a few minutes of walking each day, and gradually increase the duration of time you spend walking or increase the distance that you cover day by day. Once your body has gotten more accustomed to getting regular exercise, you can also proceed to including running and biking in your exercise routine as well.
Besides having sufficient exercise, you should also pay attention to your diet. To eat healthily, you should eat healthy food packed with vitamins and avoid those that are oily and fat-laden. Apart from that, you should also give your body ample time to rest by having at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
By living a healthy lifestyle, you will be able to deal with equip your body with the necessary tools to manage stress. With regular exercise, healthy diet and sufficient rest, you will be full of energy every morning and ready to begin your day. As such, you will not feel tired easily even when you have a lot of tasks or chores to complete. Such stress management methods do not have any negative effects. In fact, it will improve your life since you will feel healthier. You will find that it is now easier to accomplish all your goals, making you feel happier and free from stress.
Stress Relief: How to handle your Stress
While everyone will find themselves in stressful situations every day, not everyone is able to properly handle stress. As such, when you feel overwhelmed by such feelings, it may take a toll on your health. In order to keep yourself stress-free, you definitely should learn some techniques that will help you to deal with stress.
There are countless stressful situations which can happen at work. For adults, you will be able stress associated with deadlines and difficult tasks. For example, if you have just been assigned to make a presentation in front of a panel of executives at the very last minute, you will most likely feel the pressure. At times like this, you should never allow stress to stop you from doing your best. Hence, it is extremely important to know when you are stressed and what you can do to resolve the problem.
When you feel easily agitated or overwhelmed by the things at hand, you should realize that you are stressed out. To handle stress effectively, you will first have to take control of yourself by taking deep breaths. This will help you to calm down and collect yourself so that you will be able to organise your thoughts. You should also think of positive thoughts instead of thinking about the possible mistakes you will make. As this does not take much time, it will definitely be a great way to manage your stress in any situation.
Of course, there are also times when you feel so stressed that you are unable to dispel it instantly. As such, you may want to try out other means of handling and relieving your stress. For any problems that may be troubling you, you should, first of all, keep in mind that there is always a solution for it. It is just a matter of time before you find the perfect solution. Secondly, you can talk to your friends and family so that they can help you to brainstorm and find the answer. This will help you to successfully find the solution.
For any problems that you face in life, it is always important for you to handle your stress effectively. If you simply let it be, your stress level may rise continuously and eventually cause a toll on your life. Stress can also cause you to lose motivation to work hard and achieve your goals. As such, follow these tips as mentioned above and handle your stress well today!
Social Support for Managing Stress
It is important for a person to know how to properly manage stress, since stress is one of the unavoidable things in life. Stress is not necessarily a bad thing, as it can also motivate an individual to work even harder and perform better at the workplace as well as at home. However, if one is unable to manage stress properly, then he or she may feel overwhelmed by it. In severe cases, it may even cause a toll on his or her health.
Among the various means of stress management, one that stands out is social support. It is refers to the support that has been provided to an individual by the people around him, including your family, friends and the community. With adequate social support, he will feel a sense of belonging and loved. This is important because it helps to build self-esteem which helps the individual to cope with stress. If you are someone who easily feels anxious during stressful situations, then it would be a good idea to surround yourself with individuals who are willing to provide you with the support you need. As such, you will be able to get the confidence boost you need so as to solve any problems that are troubling you.
For example, there are numerous stressful situations which occur at work. When you find yourself troubling over work issues, it may be good to talk about it with your family or friends. Even if they may not understand the situation completely, you will be able to relieve some of the frustrations and stress you feel. They will also give you the encouragement you need to fight on.
Furthermore, when it comes to situations where they are able to help you, they will certainly lend you a helping hand. As such, social support is extremely important when it comes to dealing with stress. It has also been proven that social support can contribute to good mental and physical health.
Using the Relaxation Response to Relieve Stress
When the relaxation response is activated, your:
- heart rate slows down
- breathing becomes slower and deeper
- blood pressure drops or stabilizes
- muscles relax
- blood flow to the brain increases
With its focus on full, cleansing breaths, deep breathing is a simple yet powerful relaxation technique. It’s easy to learn, can be practiced almost anywhere, and provides a quick way to get your stress levels in check. Deep breathing is the cornerstone of many other relaxation practices, too, and can be combined with other relaxing elements such as aromatherapy and music. All you really need is a few minutes and a place to stretch out.
How to practice deep breathing
The key to deep breathing is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible in your lungs. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel.
- Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
- Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
- Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.
If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying down. Put a small book on your stomach, and breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body. With regular practice, it gives you an intimate familiarity with what tension—as well as complete relaxation—feels like in different parts of the body. This can help you to you react to the first signs of the muscular tension that accompanies stress. And as your body relaxes, so will your mind.
Progressive muscle relaxation can be combined with deep breathing for additional stress relief.
Practicing progressive muscle relaxation
Consult with your doctor first if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing muscles.
Start at your feet and work your way up to your face, trying to only tense those muscles intended.
- Loosen clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.
- Take a few minutes to breathe in and out in slow, deep breaths.
- When you’re ready, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.
- Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.
- Relax your foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and how your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
- Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
- Shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
- Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the different muscle groups.
- It may take some practice at first, but try not to tense muscles other than those intended.
Progressive muscle relaxation sequence
- Right foot, then left foot
- Right calf, then left calf
- Right thigh, then left thigh
- Hips and buttocks
- Right arm and hand, then left arm and hand
- Neck and shoulders
Rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, mindfulness meditation switches the focus to what’s happening right now, enabling you to be fully engaged in the present moment.
Meditations that cultivate mindfulness have long been used to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions. Some of these meditations bring you into the present by focusing your attention on a single repetitive action, such as your breathing, a few repeated words, or the flickering light of a candle. Other forms of mindfulness meditation encourage you to follow and then release internal thoughts or sensations. Mindfulness can also be applied to activities such as walking, exercising, or eating.
A basic mindfulness exercise:
- Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor.
- Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensation of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling.
- Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations, and thoughts.
- Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad. If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.
Practicing mindfulness meditation
To practice mindfulness meditation, you’ll need:
- A quiet environment. Choose a secluded place in your home, office, or outdoors where you can relax without distractions or interruptions.
- A comfortable position. Get comfortable, but avoid lying down as this may lead to you falling asleep.
- A point of focus. You can meditate with your eyes closed or open so this point can be internal—a feeling or imaginary scene—or external—a candle flame or a meaningful word that you repeat throughout the meditation.
- An observant, noncritical attitude. Don’t worry about distracting thoughts that go through your mind or about how well you’re doing. If thoughts intrude during your relaxation session, don’t fight them, just gently turn your attention back to your point of focus.
Body scan meditation
This is a type of meditation that that focuses your attention on various parts of your body. Like progressive muscle relaxation, you start with your feet and work your way up. But instead of tensing and relaxing muscles, you simply focus on the way each part of your body feels, without labeling the sensations as either “good” or “bad”.
Practicing body scan meditation
- Lie on your back, legs uncrossed, arms relaxed at your sides, eyes open or closed. Focus on your breathing for about two minutes until you start to feel relaxed.
- Turn your focus to the toes of your right foot. Notice any sensations you feel while continuing to also focus on your breathing. Imagine each deep breath flowing to your toes. Remain focused on this area for one to two minutes.
- Move your focus to the sole of your right foot. Tune in to any sensations you feel in that part of your body and imagine each breath flowing from the sole of your foot. After one or two minutes, move your focus to your right ankle and repeat. Move to your calf, knee, thigh, hip, and then repeat the sequence for your left leg. From there, move up the torso, through the lower back and abdomen, the upper back and chest, and the shoulders. Pay close attention to any area of the body that causes you pain or discomfort.
- After completing the body scan, relax for a while in silence and stillness, noting how your body feels. Then slowly open your eyes and stretch, if necessary.
Rhythmic movement and mindful exercise
The idea of exercising may not sound particularly soothing, but rhythmic exercise that gets you into a flow of repetitive movement can be very relaxing. Examples include:
For maximum stress relief, add mindfulness to your workout
While simply engaging in rhythmic exercise will help you relieve stress, if you add a mindfulness component on top, you’ll get even more benefit.
As with meditation, mindful exercise requires being fully engaged in the present moment—paying attention to how your body feels right now, rather than your daily worries or concerns. In order to “turn off” your thoughts, focus on the sensations in your limbs and how your breathing complements your movement.
If you’re walking or running, for example, focus on the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your breath, and the feeling of the wind against your face. If your mind wanders to other thoughts, gently return to focusing on your breathing and movement.
Visualization, or guided imagery, is a variation on traditional meditation that involves imagining a scene in which you feel at peace, free to let go of all tension and anxiety. Choose whatever setting is most calming to you, whether it’s a tropical beach, a favorite childhood spot, or a quiet wooded glen.
You can practice visualization on your own or with a therapist (or an audio recording of a therapist) guiding you through the imagery. You can also choose to do your visualization in silence or use listening aids, such as soothing music or a sound machine or recording that matches your chosen setting—the sound of ocean waves if you’ve chosen a beach, for example.
Close your eyes and imagine your restful place. Picture it as vividly as you can—everything you can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Just “looking” at it like you would a photograph is not enough. Visualization works best if you incorporate as many sensory details as possible.
For example, if you are thinking about a dock on a quiet lake:
- See the sun setting over the water
- Hear the birds singing
- Smell the pine trees
- Feel the cool water on your bare feet
- Taste the fresh, clean air
Enjoy the feeling of your worries drifting away as you slowly explore your restful place. When you are ready, gently open your eyes and come back to the present.
Don’t worry if you sometimes zone out or lose track of where you are during a visualization session. This is normal. You may also experience feelings of heaviness in your limbs, muscle twitches, or yawning. Again, these are normal responses.
Resources for Stress Relief Techniques: helpguide.org/articles/stress/relaxation-techniques-for-stress-relief.htm
In conclusion, while it is impossible to completely eliminate stress from your life, you can learn to manage it. While stress may sometimes be overwhelming, you should never let it run your life or stop you from accomplishing your goals. Instead, always try to take control of your thoughts, take a step back and re-evaluate the situation. If you are feeling stressed because you are afraid of making mistakes, take deep breathes to compose yourself. You should also not feel shy to talk about your feelings with your friends and family. With the love and support from your loved ones, you will be able to feel more confident to take on the world. As stress is bad for your physical and mental well being, you definitely should try out the stress management techniques mentioned above.