Despite the fact that it might seem impossible, there are things you can do to reduce stress at work and at home and regain control.
The significance of stress management
Your overall health is in danger if you are under a lot of stress every day. Both your physical and emotional well-being are negatively impacted by stress. Your capacity to think clearly, work effectively, and have fun is reduced. It might appear that there is nothing you can do to relieve stress. There will never be more hours in the day, the bills won’t stop coming in, and your work and family obligations will always be demanding. However, you are much more in control than you might realise.
In order to be happier, healthier, and more productive, effective stress management enables you to release the grip that stress has on your life. The ultimate goal is to live a balanced life that includes time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun—as well as the fortitude to withstand stress and face challenges head-on. But there is no one solution for stress management. Experiment to determine what works best for you in this regard. You can achieve that by using the following tips for stress management.
➮The sources of your stress should be identified.
Finding the sources of your stress is the first step in managing it. This is more complicated than it seems. Finding the causes of persistent stress can be more challenging than identifying major stressors like job changes, relocation, or divorce. It’s all too simple to ignore the ways in which your own attitudes, sentiments, and actions affect your stress levels on a daily basis.
Even though you may be aware that you worry about work deadlines constantly, the stress may actually be coming from your procrastination rather than the demands of your job.
Look closely at your routines, outlook, and justifications to determine your true sources of stress:
- Do you rationalise stress by saying, “I just have a million things going on right now,” despite the fact that you can’t recall the last time you took a break?
- Do you view stress as a necessary component of your personal or professional life (i.e., “things are always crazy around here”) or as a personality trait (i.e., “I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”)?
- Do you attribute your stress to other people or outside circumstances, or do you think it’s completely normal and unexceptional?
Your level of stress will continue to be out of your control until you take accountability for your part in causing or maintaining it.
The last thing you probably want to do when you’re stressed out is get up and work out. But engaging in physical activity is a great way to reduce stress, and you don’t need to be an athlete or spend all day in the gym to reap its rewards. Exercise makes you feel good and can help you forget about your daily worries by releasing feel-good endorphins.
Although exercising for at least 30 minutes on a regular basis will give you the greatest benefits, you can gradually increase your level of fitness. Even very minor tasks can add up throughout the course of the day. The first thing to do is to get moving. Here are a few simple ways to fit exercise into your daily routine:
- Put on some music and dance around.
- Take your dog for a walk.
- Walk or cycle to the grocery store.
- Use the stairs at home or work rather than an elevator.
- Park your car in the farthest spot in the lot and walk the rest of the way.
- Pair up with an exercise partner and encourage each other as you work out.
- Play ping-pong or an activity-based video game with your kids.
Self-care has been defined as “a multidimensional, multifaceted process of purposeful engagement in strategies that promote healthy functioning and enhance well-being.” Essentially, the term describes a conscious act a person takes in order to promote their own physical, mental, and emotional health. It involves engaging in activities that you find important. It doesn’t have to be too difficult. It’s just that deliberate planning aspect where you consider how it will advance your wellbeing.
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➮Connect to others
Nothing can calm you down more than spending time with a person who makes you feel safe and understood. In actuality, face-to-face communication sets off a hormonal chain reaction that blocks the body’s protective “fight-or-flight” response. It is a naturally occurring stress reliever (as an added bonus, it also helps stave off depression and anxiety). So make it a point to communicate with family and friends frequently and in person.
Do not assume that the people you talk to can alleviate your stress. Simply put, they must be attentive listeners. And try not to let concerns about coming off as helpless or burdensome prevent you from being open. Your trust in those who are important to you will make them feel honoured. It will only grow stronger.
➮Make time for fun and relaxation
You can lessen stress in your life in addition to taking charge and having a positive outlook by scheduling “me” time. Don’t let life’s busyness overwhelm you to the point where you neglect to take care of your own needs. Self-care is a requirement, not a luxury. You’ll be better equipped to deal with life’s stressors if you routinely schedule time for enjoyment and relaxation.
- Set aside leisure time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.
- Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
- Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.
- Take up a relaxation practice. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the fight or flight or mobilization stress response. As you learn and practice these techniques, your stress levels will decrease and your mind and body will become calm and centered.
➮Maintain balance with a healthy lifestyle
In addition to regular exercise, there are other healthy lifestyle choices that can increase your resistance to stress.
- Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.
- Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar provide often end with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.
- Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.
- Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.
➮Practice the 4 A’s of stress management
While your nervous system automatically reacts to stress, some stressors happen at predictable times, such as your commute to work, a meeting with your boss, or family gatherings. You can either alter the circumstance or alter your response when dealing with such predictable stressors. It’s useful to consider the four A’s when deciding which course of action to take in any given situation: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept. The four A’s – Avoid, Alter, Adapt & Accept
➮ The four A’s – Avoid, Alter, Adapt & Accept
Avoid unnecessary stress
- It’s not healthy to avoid a stressful situation that needs to be addressed, but you may be surprised by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.
- Learn how to say “no.” Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress. Distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts” and, when possible, say “no” to taking on too much.
- Avoid people who stress you out. If someone consistently causes stress in your life, limit the amount of time you spend with that person, or end the relationship.
Alter the situation
- If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
- Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, be more assertive and communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the stress will increase.
Adapt to the stressor
- If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
- Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.
- Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
Accept the things you can’t change
- Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.
- Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control, particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.
- Look for the upside. When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.
➮Learn to relieve stress in the moment
You need a way to control your stress levels right away if you’re stressed out from your morning commute, sitting through a stressful meeting at work, or exhausted from yet another argument with your spouse. Quick stress relief can help with that.
Taking a deep breath, using your senses—what you see, hear, taste, and touch—or engaging in a relaxing movement are the quickest ways to reduce stress. You can easily unwind and concentrate on yourself by, for instance, gazing at a favourite picture, inhaling a certain scent, listening to a favourite song, chewing on some gum, or cuddling a pet.
Of course, not everyone reacts the same way to different sensory experiences.