Stress is a part of almost every human's life. It is how your body responds to any demand, and it is a way for you to grow. Healthy stress can help keep you motivated to get things done. On the other hand, unhealthy stress can result in health problems as often your body and mind bear the brunt of chronic stress.
This is why having a stress management mindset is vital to your mental health and the people around you. Let's discuss these stress management techniques and how they matter. In this article we will talk about:
What is stress?
Stress is a normal part of life. According to the world health organization (WHO), stress is defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional or psychological strain. Stress is your body's response to anything that requires attention or action. Everyone experiences stress to some degree.
What Causes Stress?
The factors that cause your stress are referred to as stressors. Stressors are anything that puts a high demand on you, including positive events in your life such as getting promotions at work, joining the university, or getting a child. Stress can be self-generated when you worry about things and when you are pessimistic about life. It can also as be a reason of external factors that may be beyond your control.
The common causes of stress include:
The stress caused by a lack of finances often results in headaches, blood pressure, and insomnia. Some signs of financial stress include constant arguing with loved ones over money, feeling guilty after spending money on non-essentials, and being afraid to open the mail or answer the phone.
Work or school:
Being unhappy at your place of work or having to work long hours can frustrate you and end up stressing you out. When you risk losing your job or are forced to work under dangerous conditions, you will often end up feeling stressed. School is also a huge stressor, especially when examinations are fast-approaching. If you are a student with a very busy schedule at school, you will often find yourself getting overwhelmed as you will not always have free time to unwind.
Some people in your life may be stressing you out. It may be your intimate person, a relative, a friend, or a co-worker. When your marriage is not going well, and you are looking at a divorce, you may end up getting stressed out. If you are surrounded by ill-willed family members or friends who want to exert control over your life, your stress may be triggered. Uncooperative and difficult co-workers can also leave you stressed out.
For most parents, raising and taking care of your children can be challenging, especially when trying to balance time with your children and work. Parenting stress can make you a harsh and negative parent. This may end up destroying your bond with your child. Parenting stress may arise as a result of being a single parent, having a lower income, having a child with a behavioral disorder, and having to work long hours.
Why is Stress Management Important?
Managing your stress will help you get resilience and develop mechanisms to cope. If left unaddressed, chronic stress can sometimes result in serious health problems such as stomach ulcers or stroke.
When you are stressed, your brain experiences physical and chemical changes that affect its functioning. It then releases certain chemicals, including neurotransmitters dopamine which causes the release of large amounts of hormones such as adrenaline. These chemical releases result in effects including higher blood pressure, increased heart rate, and a failing immune system.
Additionally, healthcare professionals have associated chronic stress with cancer and heart disease risk.
Stress also affects your digestive system when it affects the nutrient that your intestines absorb and can affect your appetite. When your digestive system is affected, you may end up struggling with nausea, constipation, heartburn, and vomiting. Stress also affects your social life leading to the destruction of your relationships.
How to Manage Stress and Tips For a Successful Stress Management Plan
You do not need to wait for stress to damage your health or your life. It is important to individualize your approach to stress by coming up with a personalized stress management plan. Below are some tips to help you manage your own stress. For help or support please reach out to a licensed, professional therapist.
Have a list of your stressors
Ensure that you know what stresses you out and note them down. The things that stress you out can range from the factors beyond your control to the ones within your control.
Find out how you respond to stress
What is your normal response to stress? Identify the signs that you get whenever you are stressed out. Stress symptoms may include headaches, irritable mood, digestive problems, and memory loss.
Have a list of the issues you can and cannot control
Once you have the list of your stressors, read over it while circling the things you can control. Cross out from the list the stressors that you have no control over. You should not waste time on things that you cannot control.
Have realistic thoughts to replace the unrealistic thoughts
After identifying the stressors you can control, shift your thoughts to these stressors. When you are stressed out, sometimes, you may focus on unrealistic thoughts that may only leave you even more stressed. Come up with a list of your thoughts or imaginations that are not true and change them to make them realistic.
Have a list of self-care activities
Self-care activities will help relax your mind and body. Some self-care activities you can engage in include meditations, yoga, deep breathing, napping, and eating well-balanced meals. Identify the self-care activities that will work best for you. Some applications help in self-care. Some of the apps include GPS for the soul, Stress Tracker, and Aloe Bud.
It is essential to make your mental health a priority. You can use the tips above to develop an effective stress management plan.
What are ways to manage stress?
Do A lot of exercises
Health care professionals acknowledge that physical activity helps improve sleep patterns. Better sleep is associated with better management of stress. Exercise also helps stimulate your body to release several hormones that help in blocking pain and sedating you. Exercise also tends to stop making you feel more positive about life, helping you cope with stress.
Have a Good Diet
Watching your diet will also help you in managing stress. A healthy diet will ease the effects of your stress by uplifting your mood, increasing your immune system, and reducing your blood pressure. Take complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and fatty acids found in foods such as fish, eggs, meat, and nuts.
Get Enough Sleep
If you are stressed out, you will notice that you struggle to fall asleep. Failing to sleep only adds to your stress and causes a cycle of sleeplessness and stress. Having better sleeping habits will help you cope with stress. To improve your sleeping habits, consider getting out into the sunlight, exercising regularly, setting a sleep schedule, and avoiding taking alcohol or caffeine close to your bedtime.
Embrace relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation. Meditation helps in lowering stress, anxiety, and chronic pain. To have a successful meditation, locate a quiet place, get comfortable, focus your attention on a word or object, and let your thoughts come and go without forming any judgments. Another relaxation technique would be deep breathing which will help you turn on your body's natural ability to relax. Deep breathing is seen as more oxygen to your brain, calming the part of your nervous system that handles the ability your ability to relax.
Stress Management Therapy
Help from a licensed professional can provide many benefits and can accelerate your ability to manage stress. Working with a therapist will help you understand your major stressors, emotions, and uncover ways to effectively cope.
Connect with people
Instead of keeping to yourself, spend time with a friend or relative who can listen to you. When you connect with people, your body releases a hormone that stops your fight or flight response helping you to calm down and lower your stress.
Stress may be a common part of our daily life. What matters is our response to stress and the coping mechanisms we put in place to deal with stress. Identifying your stressors is the first step toward dealing with stress. A proper stress management plan will allow you to prepare for your healing process and accord you the opportunity to identify what works for you with regard to dealing with stress. Ready to start managing stress? At Blue Oak Counseling we offer therapy for stress to help you manage the day to day stressors. Click here to reach out to us! A member of our team will be happy to discuss the next steps with you.