Stress is a part of day-to-day living. In our daily lives, we are often exposed to situations that produce stress, especially, now when we are facing the adverse situation of the ongoing second wave of COVID pandemic. People are engulfed with virus in lacs and death tolls in thousands. And hence the importance of managing the stress has gained more importance.
What is stress? It is especially important to know what stress is, before diving into how to manage the stress.
Well, there are many definitions to- define stress. However, the most appropriate according to me is “Stress is often termed as a twentieth century syndrome, born out of man’s race towards modern progress and its ensuing complexities.”It can also be defined as a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize. This means we experience stress if we don’t have the time, resources, and knowledge to handle a situation. In short, we experience stress when we feel “out of control”. Generally, A layperson may define stress in terms of pressure, tension, unpleasant external forces or an emotional response.
The interpretation and reaction to events that make stress are different for different people. For example, speaking in public can be stressful for some people and relaxing for others. However, if our stress level is too high, it can result in serious medical and social problems. Stress impacts our ability to do our jobs effectively, and it affects how we work with other people. This can have a serious impact on our careers, our general well-being, and our relationships.
Long-term stress can also cause conditions such as burnout, cardiovascular disease, stroke, depression, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. (Sure, if you’re stressed, the last thing you want to think about is how damaging it can be. However, you do need to know how important it is to take stress seriously.)
How to Manage Stress
If you’re living with high levels of stress, you’re putting your entire well-being at risk. While it may seem like there’s nothing you can do about stress at work and home- The bills won’t stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day, and your work and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control than you might think. There are steps you can take to relieve the pressure and regain control.
According to me, the ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun—and the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on. After all we all seek to be happier, healthier, and more productive. But stress management is not one-size-fits-all. That’s why it’s important to experiment and find out what works best for you. I have used many permutation and combination of below mentioned tips that helps me manage my stressors and can be handy and useful to you as well.
Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.. It’s all too easy to overlook how your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviours contribute to your everyday stress levels. To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses. Start a Stress Journal. A Stress Journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you are stressed, track it in your journal. You can also use a stress tracker on you mobile. Keeping a daily log will enable you to see patterns and common themes. Mention the cause of stress, how you felt both physically and emotionally, how you acted in response and what you did to make yourself better. Trust me when I say it helps. A stress journal works as a guide to know yourself better and helps you in the process of improvisation.
While stress is an automatic response from your nervous system, some stressors arise at predictable times: your commute to work, a meeting with your boss, or family gatherings, for example. When handling such predictable stressors, you can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose in any given scenario, it’s helpful to think of the four A’s: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept. Let’s look at each one in depth.
Avoid unnecessary stress by saying simple “No”. Know your limits and stick to them. Avoid people who stress you out. Take control of your environment- If evening news makes you anxious turn off the TV. If traffic makes you tense, take a longer but less travelled route. Pare down your to-do list. Analyse your schedule, daily responsibility, and daily tasks. If there is too much on your plate drop tasks that are unnecessary or push them to the end.
Alter your Situation– if you can’t avoid a situation, try to alter it. Mostly this involves change in the way you communicate and operate in daily life. Express your feelings instead of bottling them up, be willing to compromise and create a balanced schedule between work and family life.
Adapt to the stressors- if you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. Learn to adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by altering your expectations and attitude.
Accept the things that you can’t change. Some stressors are unavoidable. Don’t try to control the uncontrollable as many things are beyond our control, rather than stressing focus on things you can control. Look for upside when facing major challenges, look at them as opportunities for personal growth. Share your feelings with trusted ones and express what you’re going through by way of writing, painting, listening to music any form that helps.
Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. There are things you can do to achieve a healthier work-life balance like Don’t over-commit yourself, prioritize tasks, break projects into smaller steps and delegate responsibilities.
Healthy lifestyle choices with regular exercise can increase your resistance to stress. Take a healthy nutritious meal, reduce caffeine and sugar. Avoid alcohol, smoking and drugs and get adequate 8-hour sleep. Make time for fun and relaxation, practice meditation, pursue hobby and incorporate physical activity in any form. It is a huge stress reliever so get moving.
When you’re frazzled by your morning commute, stuck in a stressful meeting at work, or fried from another argument with your spouse, you need a way to manage your stress levels right now. That’s where quick stress relief comes in. The fastest way to reduce stress is by taking a deep breath and using your senses—what you see, hear, taste, and touch—or through a soothing movement. By viewing a favourite photo, smelling a specific scent, listening to a favourite piece of music, tasting a piece of gum, or hugging a pet, for example, you can quickly relax and focus yourself. Of course, not everyone responds to each sensory experience in the same way. The key to quick stress relief is to experiment and discover the unique sensory experiences that work best for you. Gradually when you adapt these tips in your day-today routine, it slowly impacts your stress levels. Do let me know if any of these tips could bring about any amount of change in your stress levels.