Stress management and management
Have you ever suffered from stress? I am convinced that yes. We have all suffered from it at one time or another.
It’s not bad at all; it’s your body’s normal reaction to a change or to what you perceive as a danger.
The problem is when that stress stops being random and short-term and becomes a part of your everyday life.
You live in an accelerated society where you run everywhere and always keep an eye on the clock and the phone.
This fast pace and constant digital connection make you more likely to get stressed out or sick mentally.
For that reason, nowadays, stress management is essential to improving your health and well-being.
Consequences of stress
You’ve probably experienced the most obvious signs of stress at some point in your life, like feeling tense, having trouble sleeping, getting angry, etc.
You may have also felt some of its other effects, like muscle aches, excessive sweating, and lowered defenses, that we don’t usually associate directly with stress or that are less obvious at first.
Although it is not the subject of this article, I will make a quick recapitulation of the consequences of prolonged exposure to stress for our body. We are influenced on three levels:
- Behavior: Our work performance goes down, we spend more time alone, our social relationships get worse, we’re more likely to abuse tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs, and we have problems with eating or sexuality…
- Mind: it increases our irritability, anxiety, and insecurity; we worry about unimportant things; we find it difficult to concentrate and make decisions; we have negative thoughts, and we feel sadder.
- Body: headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, and muscle contractures or pains are becoming more frequent; we sweat more than usual; we have skin problems; our blood pressure and heart rate rise; and it is difficult to keep the level of sugar and cholesterol in the blood at bay.
But, today, I’m not going to talk more about the problems that stress can cause us. Such a large number of negative effects on our body “deserves” an article of its own, or several chapters. �
What I wanted to talk to you about today is stress management—the keys to working on it to reduce your stress level or, at the very least, keep it from increasing.
Identify your stressors.
The first step for you to keep stress at bay is to identify the sources of stress in your life, both in the family or private and work environments. You should think about the situations that lead to stress.
Although it may seem simple to you at first, it is not so simple.
There are some more or less obvious stressors (discussions with your partner, a boss who “squeezes” you, a bill that you can’t pay, etc.), but others are more hidden, and you will have to do a sincere search exercise.
Most of the time, we think about the outside things that cause stress and forget about our own thoughts, feelings, and stressful actions.
A fantastic tool that you can use to be more aware of what stresses you is a stress diary.
Basically, it’s about registering on a piece of paper or notebook (if you’re more into technology, you can do it on your mobile). situations that generate stress during the day
Little by little, you will discover behavior patterns, recurring themes, common situations,…
To serve as a reference, you can write down the following information:
- What caused the stress? (You may not know for sure; indicate it and also write down the one that you suspect may be the
- How did you feel, both physically and emotionally?
- What was your response to that situation? How did you react?
- What did you do to feel better?
How to manage stress
Next, I will tell you about some techniques for stress management. Some are easier to apply than others; start little by little and be consistent.
Don’t get overwhelmed or demand too much, and you will see that little by little they will bear fruit.
Read a book or watch a documentary about stress.
The first step to combating stress is to get to know it. Don’t get obsessed with the subject; just find out how it works and what mechanisms stress uses. It will help you understand some of your reactions and provide the basis on which to work on stress management.
Avoid unnecessary stress.
You have to face stressful situations, whether you want to or not. Many are unforeseen, and it would not be healthy to try to avoid others.
But there are also times when you can decide. And that decision has a great influence on your stress management.
- It distinguishes between the essential and the not-essential. Leave the things that are unnecessary by the end of the day or delete them definitively from your to-do list.
- Learn to say no. There are times in life when we can and must refuse certain things. Be realistic and aware of your limits, and if you think you won’t have time or will have too much trouble, don’t offer to help a co-worker or tell your friend that you can’t meet her today,
- Analyze your relationships. If someone systematically stresses you, avoid spending time with that person or permanently cut off the relationship.
- Modify some habits. If watching a horror movie at night prevents you from resting well, leave it for another time. If watching the news causes you anxiety, change the channel. If talking about your work with your partner generates more stress, limit that topic and talk about something more pleasant.
It modifies the stressful situation.
If you can’t avoid the situation that causes you stress, try to change it.
- Express your feelings; don’t keep them. If something or someone bothers you, talk about it. Even if you don’t verbalize them, your body feels those negative emotions and loads them up as if it were a backpack full of frustration and resentment. Explain in a sincere, open, and respectful way the comments or situations that bother you and how they make you feel. Assertiveness will allow you to relate to others without aggression or passivity. It has been shown that assertive communication increases positive responses.
- Organize your time. Many times, it is enough to plan your schedule the day before to notice a great improvement in the use of time. In situations of trouble and stress, it will be harder for you to concentrate and stop to plan.
- Avoid procrastination (postponing activities that must be attended to, replacing them with more irrelevant or pleasant ones).
Don’t generate any more worries.
- Control your expectations and your self-demand. On many occasions, we are the ones who create situations that generate stress. “I need a new car because mine looks old.” “I want to organize the best birthday party to show that I am a good friend or a good daughter.” “I must have all my friends and co-workers happy, or I will not be a good person.” “I have to go to the gym, even if I leave work very late, or I will never get in.”
- Relativizes. Think about whether that stressor really is. How important will it be in the long term? Is it worth feeling overwhelmed by this? Can’t I be happy if I don’t get it?
- Focus on things from a more positive perspective instead of focusing on the negative. Remove words from your vocabulary as usual: never, I must, I should, I have to.
- Adjust your expectations and your goals by being realistic; don’t punish yourself. Perfectionism is an inexhaustible source of stress. You don’t have to do everything perfectly; many times, doing it well is enough.
Take care of your social life.
Have a good time with someone who makes you feel good and understands and/or loves you; it’s a good way to calm down and reduce stress.
Why is keeping a busy social life important to help you deal with stress better?
- Being in contact with and spending time with your loved ones is linked to the production of oxytocin. Among other effects, this hormone allows you to reduce anxiety levels.
- That person who listens to you when you tell him your feelings and supports you in your decisions will help you gain confidence. But don’t just tell him the bad things, eh? Also share the good days and the joys.
- Having a network of family and/or friends around you will make you feel more secure, reassure you, and improve your resistance to problems that may arise in your life.
Leads an active life.
There are three main reasons why physical activity will help you feel less stressed.
- The stronger and healthier your body is, the better it will withstand tension and stressful reactions.
- Physical activity releases endorphins, making you feel better and lifting your mood.
- While exercising, your mind will shift its attention from the daily routine and take a break from the mental work to which it is subjected.
It is important that you find a physical activity that you like and that you enjoy; this is not a punishment. The important thing is not to run a marathon but to be constant. If you like it and have a good time, you will be more likely to incorporate it definitively into your day-to-day life.
Make sure that the option you choose adapts to your physical conditions. Start little by little and have fun. Some ideas to incorporate physical activity into your routine are the following:
- Use the bicycle or go on foot instead of by car or bus, whenever possible.
- Go up the stairs at home or work instead of taking the elevator.
- Doing yoga
- Going to a Pilates class
Accept the situation and be grateful.
It’s useless if you spend the time thinking about things over which you have no decision-making power or influence.
- Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. If you can’t change the situation, don’t waste any more time worrying about it; just accept it. Focus on what you can control and strive to get what you want. Learn from the difficulties, your mistakes, and those of others.
- Stop and think about the good things your day has brought. Give thanks for those emotions, those thoughts, and those moments that have made you feel good: your son’s kiss, the chat with your partner during the coffee break, the smile and joy with which you have been treated at the bar, the pleasant feeling of the sun on your face, the delicious food you have prepared…
Find time for fun and relaxation.
Doing something that you like and that relaxes you is a good way to combat stress.
When we are overwhelmed and lack time, the activities we do for pure pleasure (hobbies) or those moments “of doing nothing” are the first that we eliminate from our agenda.
- Look for a balance between your professional and personal lives. When you are organizing your day, don’t focus it exclusively on work; look for moments for yourself and do something that is pleasant for you: meet a friend, enjoy your family, read a book, do gardening…
- Practice some techniques that will help you relax. Many activities and tools will help you relax, slow down, and reduce stress.
Try several and find the one that best suits you.
- Forest baths
- Hot baths
- Disconnect. Forget about your cell phone, social networks, and screens for a while… When you spend the day “hooked” to your cell phone, television, or computer, your brain doesn’t have the time it needs to rest and recover.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Poor diet, poor sleep quality, tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, etc. are factors that directly influence your ability to manage stress.
Keeping a healthy lifestyle will keep anxiety from getting worse and help you deal with stress and nerves.
- Follow a healthy diet. Food and stress are closely related. A good diet will help you feel better and reduce the consequences of stress on your body.
- It favors quality sleep. A good night’s rest is essential to provide your body with the necessary resources to face the day-to-day grind. Your body will have more energy, and your mind will have “rested” from the worries of the previous day.
- Avoid tobacco. Although the belief that tobacco relaxes is widespread, it is completely incorrect since it is a stimulant. The apparent feeling of relief that is felt when smoking is due to the fact that the withdrawal symptoms produced by the lack of nicotine in the brain disappear.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. Using these substances as a way to escape from stress is not at all advisable. They have negative effects on your body, and there is always a risk of addiction. The best way to deal with problems is with a clear mind and an “in shape” body, the opposite of what you would achieve using these substances.
- Reduces caffeine and sugar. Caffeine increases cortisol levels (called a stress hormone), prevents relaxation, and hinders restful sleep. When you eat sugary foods, your blood sugar spikes, and the body has to release more cortisol to balance them, so you increase your stress hormone levels again.
Ask for help if you need it.
If you feel that you can’t manage stress on your own, don’t wait any longer; make a face-to-face appointment with a doctor or a therapist to be examined and advised.
And what do you think? Have you tried any of these stress management ideas yet? Do other techniques work for you to reduce your stress or anxiety levels? Dare to leave a comment to help other people.