How To Manage And Reduce Stress

21 Jun, 2021

Stress is an involuntary part of our life. However, with sufficient awareness, mindfulness, various coping mechanisms and stress management techniques, you can overcome stress and its impact on your life

It is important to understand that stress attacks each one in all sort of ways, and it might seem difficult to understand it and find ways to conquer it. Stress could be a sudden sense of rage at somebody or something or it could be that unbearable feeling of loneliness or a deeper health issue that gets triggered when you are vulnerable. stress is the body’s reaction to a change that requires an adjustment or a response. Typically, our body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses which can put us under abnormal pressure.

Before getting into the details of how to manage and reduce stress, let us take a look at what instigates this feeling of stress in the first place. Stress can be caused by one big thing or a build-up of small pressures. For example:

  • Personal issues such as illness, household chores, everyday tasks.
  • Worries about money, debt, and other financial problems.
  • Work-related issues such as a new role, a new job, retirement, difficult tasks.
  • Relationship issues with friends, family, and society.

Some of the above like a new job or retirement may be a happy event, but they are still changing which will impose new demands on our mind and body. When our body processes these changes it will throw some signs of stress due to the extra workload it feels. It is important to identify these signs at an early stage as this will be the first step towards managing and tackling stress.  So, look out for these common signs/symptoms:

  • Feeling of being overwhelmed.
  • Difficulty in relaxing.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Being in a constant state of thinking.
  • Feeling Irritable and edgy.
  • Lack of eating or overeating.
  • No desire in engaging in activities you once enjoyed.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Mental and physical fatigue.

Now that we have an idea of what stress is, what causes stress and the symptoms of stress, let’s look at some powerful ways to control it for our wellbeing.  

  • Take joy in small victories.

Most of us have lofty ambitions and it may take years to achieve them. While it is a good thing, one should also always celebrate the intermediate milestones that you hit along the way. So, the next time your manager gives you a pat on the back, you should give yourself a high five as well.

  • Break huge tasks into smaller steps.

Feeling overwhelmed by an all-important task? Break it up into sub-tasks and take them up one by one. You will feel the pieces come together in no time and that will put your mind to ease.

  • Take time out.

We keep telling ourselves ‘I just can’t take the time off, but remember a stress-free mind is more productive than an overworked one. Dedicating time to activities you absolutely enjoy. will keep your mind and body refreshed.

  • Remember the lyrics of your favourite song.

the next time your beloved better half asks you to run an errand that you do not want to, sing out “It’s my life” by Bon Jovi. The trick however is singing it out loud in your mind only unless you want to sleep on the couch by yourself. Music helps to relieve stress, just feel the beat and focus on the rhythm. After a few minutes, you will become less tense and more relaxed.

  • Be mindful.

Mindfulness is a mind-body approach to life. It involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings in a way that increases our ability to manage difficult situations and make wise choices. Don’t let the mind wander around and collect negative thoughts. Over time it can manifest and increase stress, anxiety and related problems like insomnia, poor concentration, and low moods. Swat away bad thoughts when they creep up and think about happy times.

  • Develop good habits.

Developing good habits such as eating well, exercising, and sleeping adequately can improve one’s overall health and wellbeing. A healthy body can house a healthy mind, so it is essential to have a balanced lifestyle incorporating good habits to keep stress at bay.

  • Breathe

When under a state of stress, people tend to take shallow, rapid breaths that come directly from the chest. It reduces oxygen levels in the blood which signals a stress response to the brain. Deep breathing exercises can help counter this and trigger a relaxation response in return. Next time if such a situation were to come up, focus on your breathing, take slow and deep breaths through your nose so that your lungs fully expand, and your belly rises. This will help slow your heart rate, allowing you to feel more at ease.

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself.

What do we do when a close friend or a loved one is going through a difficult time? We do our best to be kind and supportive so that they can overcome the challenges. Similarly, we need to remember to take care of ourselves when we are in such positions as well. We may stumble or fail multiple times, but do not let that inner critic beat you up to a point of no return. Act as if you were your own best friend, thank yourself like how the legendary American rapper, Snoop Dogg thanked himself after receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

  • Engage in value-driven activities.

Balance your day with activities that will help you take the steam off and bring joy to you. Dedicate more family time, involved in positive social interactions, exercise spirituality amongst other things.

  • Seek professional help.

If you find yourself perpetually overwhelmed or stressed, it is important to seek professional help in a timely manner.

The bottom line

Although stress and anxiety are part and parcel of one’s personal and professional life these tips can help reduce or manage it better. There is no “one size fits all “solution to handling stress, ultimately the best way to manage stress is to deal with it with awareness.

As William James rightly quoted “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

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