Stress has become an inevitable part of our daily lives and an unwanted companion – especially to those of us working in fast-paced work environments. You may think that you can avoid stress by ignoring it, but inevitably it makes its way back sooner than you expect. In this article, we take a look at some effective stress management tips and techniques.
Stress is known to lead to severe health complications and can even impact your heart and brain function, ultimately reducing quality of life.
You must be wondering, is there a way to manage stress effectively?
Yes, there are multiple ways of dealing with stress. Most stress relief techniques involve relaxing the body and mind
But, before we understand how to manage stress effectively, let’s first look at why it is important to do so.
Why do I need to manage stress?
Studies show that stress has a direct relationship with cardiovascular disease. Increased levels of psychological stress for extended periods of time can affect heart rate, putting unnecessary strain on the human heart.
Stress also has a significant impact on the brain. When our body is exposed to high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, it can affect the brain’s ability to perform at its optimum level. If you are very stressed you might notice difficulties concentrating and remembering things. Sound familiar?
High cortisol (the stress hormones) levels may lead to numerous health issues, including weight gain, acne, skin thinning, weakened muscles, slow healing, and more. Long term, high levels of cortisol may also give rise to Cushing’s syndrome, which may make matters worse.
What makes us stressed?
Now that we know why it’s important to manage stress, let’s look at what factors give rise to this. Stress can be induced by a variety of things, some of which may not be in your control. Stress comes from external factors like physical injuries, the workplace, and family issues.
Some of the most common stressors include:
- Troubles in the workplace
- Personal finances
- Family disagreements
- Health issues
- Climate changes
- Addictive substances like alcohol and drugs
In situations like these, it might become difficult for you to keep calm and think rationally. Short term stressors are nothing to worry about, but when these pile up over a long period of time, these can lead to chronic stress.
Can I predict when stress will occur?
The only way you can predict stress is by looking out for symptoms. The warning signs of stress can include:
- Mood swings and irritability
- Temperament changes
- Feeling anxious or tense
- Sudden loss or gain of appetite
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Memory loss or forgetfulness
- Lack of energy and fatigue
- Headaches and neck pains
- Irregular bowel movements
- Stomach pains
Stress control: How can I manage stress?
If you are feeling stressed, you’ll no doubt want to know how to control it. Below, we take a look at some techniques you can use to manage stress:
- Take deep breaths: Deep breathing has been shown to slow the heart beat and improve oxygen levels of the body. During stressful situations, deep breathing can help calm the mind and heart by relaxing your body.
- Exercise: Exercise helps to distract the mind away from stressful situations by shifting focus to the physical activity at hand. It also increases the amount of feel-good endorphins in the body, in turn reducing some of the negative effects of stress.
- Talk: Talking works wonders when stuck in a stressful situation. It can give you a sounding board. Talking to someone you trust can help provide clarity and even a different perspective.
- Improve your sleep: Sleep helps to reduce stress by sharpening focus, improving concentration and enhancing decision-making skills. A lack of sleep can increase cortisol levels.
- Listen to music: Slow-tempo music can help to quiet the mind and even help you to reduce muscle tension. This is a really effective tool for stress management.
If stress is affecting your daily life and the stress management techniques you have tried so far have not been successful, it may be time to speak to a mental health expert.
How can I avoid stress? Can I prevent it from coming back?
Stress cannot be avoided but it can be effectively managed by using some of the techniques we have mentioned above. Remember, calming techniques and mental health professionals are your best buddies!