What is stress? A state of physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension resulting from difficult or very demanding circumstances. A small amount of stress can be good, motivating you to perform or work better. When our bodies are exposed to stressors we try and adapt to these added pressures of life. To live our healthiest lives, we need to take the time to handle the stresses that we experience.
Stress management techniques are also applicable to healthy people who experience little to no stress, and when practiced as part of a daily routine it has been proven to provide health enhancement and protection over the course of our lifetime.
It is important to understand where stress is coming from. First begin to take note of times when you feel angry, tense, worried, or irritable.
Some stressors may be easy to identify such as pressure at work, problems with your relationship, financial concerns. Even events that you would identify as positive can contribute to stress, such as getting married, starting a new job, moving, traveling, or even buying a house.
The Signs and Symptoms of Stress:
Emotional symptoms: You may feel angry, fearful, irritable, anxiety, and lack confidence.
Cognitive symptoms: Having a hard time concentrating, unclear thoughts, brain fog, and confusion.
Physical symptoms: Trouble sleeping, sweatiness, heart pounding, tightness in the chest, trouble breathing, headache, upset stomach, and dizziness.
Behavioral symptoms: Nervous habits; such as nail biting, pacing or restlessness, a change in your eating habits or pattern, sleeping poor, lack of patience, and procrastinating.
When you experience any of these feelings or emotions, take note of it. Writing down how you feel and the activity or thought that made you feel that way is an effective way to start understanding your stress, and will help you come up strategies to combat the stresses you feel.
Techniques for Managing Stress
Support circle: Spending time with those who are close to you is a great way to talk about the stresses in your life. Sometimes all you need is a good listener.
Deep Breathing: - When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and the lower belly rises. When you breathe deep, you gently disengage your mind from distracting thoughts and sensations
Healthy Diet: Chronic stress can take a toll on the body, it may even cause you to lose site for your health, and get side tracked from your regular eating habits; which could lead to you eating more. Foods you should avoid or limit are refined sugars, caffeine, high sodium foods, and alcohol. Foods to focus on are fruits and vegetables, chronic stress can weaken our ability to fight disease; eating fruits and vegetables helps us to get antioxidants which can help to boost our immune system. Eating high fiber, carbohydrate rich meals will help us avoid late night snacking, and keeps us feeling full longer.
Meditation: This is a simple, fast, and effective way to reduce stress. Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peacefulness, and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health. Focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress.
Exercise: Regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
Sleeping Regularly: Sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment and mood. Studies have shown that getting a full 8 hours of sleep at night reduces feelings of irritability, feelings of being overwhelmed, lack of motivation, lack of patience, and has even been shown to increase the chances of you skipping exercise, and further increasing stress levels.
Change Your Thinking Style: Be realistic, don't dwell on the negative. Try and reframe your thoughts to focus on the positive.
Time Management: Simplify your life, having a hectic schedule can cause additional pressure to your life that can contribute to your level of stress. Be sure to take time and do something for yourself.
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