Our society is obsessed with performance, competition, and perfection, which increases stress insidiously.

Stress is essential for survival. The chemicals it triggers help the body prepare to face and cope with danger.

How to Manage Stress Best Stress Management Techniques

Experiencing stress occasionally is perfectly normal, it’s not harmful and oftentimes helps us perform better. Experiencing stress for prolonged periods is alarming. 

Constant exposure to stressful situations results in us succumbing to a vicious cycle of stress.

What is stress management?

Stress management consists of the usage of a wide spectrum of techniques and psychotherapies directed toward the healthy management of chronic stress.

Chronic stress gives rise to several physical and mental health issues and declines a person’s productivity, and overall ability to go through day-to-day normal activities. 

Stress management is helpful for people to break away from the vicious cycle of stress.

What Stressors Are and How They Can Contribute to Stress

Stress can be caused due to a variety of reasons and the way it affects someone may vary a lot. In Psychological language, a stressor can be any situation/ event/ stimulus/ environment condition that causes stress or triggers a stress response.

Different Types of Stressors

Physiological StressorWorkplace StressorLifestyle StressorFinancial StressorLife events StressorsSocial StressorEnvironmental Stressor
These stressors can arise due to poor physical health or due to unexpected accidents.
These stressors may arise due to issues in the workplace, disharmony among colleagues, job insecurity or work life imbalance.These stressors may arise due to the choices we make in our day to day life which impact our daily lifestyle. These stressors are related to financial challenges and economic conditions.These stressors may arise due to life events that change your daily life. These changes can vary from small to big changes and as a result the impact they have on a person’s life can vary from slightly stressful to extremely stressful- almost to the point it interferes with their daily life. These stressors arise from our social environment and our relationship with other peoples. Social life is aThese arise from  the surrounding environment. They can feel challenged to ignore as they feel out of one’s control.

Physiological and Psychological Effects of Stress

Physiological effects of stress include annoying headaches, lack of focus at the workplace, and a sense of not feeling well which may lead to sleeping disorders. 

Stress if not managed properly may lead to severe health issues like hypertension, cardiac disorders, strokes, and obesity-induced diabetes. It may also lead to muscular tension and chest pain resulting in fatigue. It may also lead to gastric problems and irritable bowel syndrome.

Stress can also affect our feelings and behavior and therefore alter our moods causing psychological health issues. Psychological effects include anxiety, sadness or depression, lack of motivation or interest and sometimes there is a feeling of being overwhelmed. 

Stress may also lead to restlessness, absent-mindedness which may lead to memory problems and sometimes may cause irritability and anger.

How It Affects the Body

Stress, if allowed to persist for a very long duration may produce negative effects upon a person’s health. It seriously affects the mental health and digestive system. Cardiovascular system and body’s immunity

It releases the stress hormones from the brain which trigger the fight or flight response. This accelerates the heart rate, increases the respiration rate and the body’s muscular apparatus becomes ready for any quick action to protect the body against any emergency. 

Stress response can be beneficial for short-term situations but when the stress response does not stop firing day after day it can pose a serious health risk. 

The brain sends signals to adrenal glands to release stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol which increases heartbeats to send more blood to the areas such as muscles and heart and other important areas that require it most in an emergency. 

When an emergency is gone the brain sends the signal to all the CNS {central nervous system} to return to normal state. If CNS fails to return to normal due to stress or otherwise response will continue.

Why is Managing Stress Important?

Chronic stress affects your entire well-being. Initially one might feel that everything is under control, but even without knowing it stress can affect your physical and mental well-being.

Stress management is important as it helps your body to adapt to how to deal with stressful situations and improve your quality of life.

The first and foremost is to understand yourself better. Focus on yourself, identify the sources- what triggers stress, and how your body responds during those situations. 

Effective Stress Management Technique

Once you have identified your triggers, try to follow the following stress management techniques in your daily life:

Set Priorities

You can’t handle everything all at once, If you focus on one thing, another thing is bound to take a backseat. Rather than worry about what is left to accomplish, focus more on what you can accomplish – one step at a time. 

Set realistic goals

The best person to know about your talents and shortcomings is you. It’s great to have high standards for oneself and to push yourself continuously to develop and advance. When making goals, though, keep a realistic mindset and put your best effort forward rather than becoming fixated on perfection. Allow yourself to make errors so you can grow from them.

Accepting change is an inevitable part of life

Change is the only constant thing, everything around us is bound to change, and even without releasing we are changing. Rather than being scared of these changes one should be more expecting of them.

Try Mind-focused techniques

Inculcate the following mind-focused techniques in your daily life as they help in relaxing both mind and body and relieve stress:

1. Deep breathing exercise: 

  • Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
  • Keeping back and maintain straight posture
  • Inhale slowly through your nose
  • Take a deep breath and feel your chest expand
  • Focus on how your chest rises and falls while inhaling and exhaling.
  • Repeat this five to ten times.

2. Belly breathing exercise:

  • Make yourself comfortable by sitting or lying flat. Place one hand on your abdomen, and the other on your thorax.
  • Allow your belly to push your hand out as you breathe deeply through your nose. Do not move your chest.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth. Feel the hand on your abdomen go in, and then use it to expel all the air.
  • Repeat this three to ten times. 

3. Mindfulness: 

  • Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  • Pay attention to your breathing movements.
  •  Focus on your surroundings, on whatever you are feeling or hearing. You will see that slowly your anxiety will start to fade.

Journaling

Intrusive thoughts and stress are closely related. Intrusive thought can be very tiring, overwhelming, and emotionally draining. Journaling helps you identify the intrusive thoughts, it gives you clarity that your intrusive thoughts are not something that are aligned with your beliefs and morals. They are unwanted, writing them down helps us to differentiate between unwanted thoughts and what we truly believe and helps in aligning our thoughts.

Healthy sleeping patterns

Sleep is important, an adult should sleep at least 7-8 hours. Not getting enough sleep is one of the main reasons for increasing stress levels. Sleeping well and getting less is directly related to decreasing cortisol levels.

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Eating Healthy

A healthy diet is important for both maintaining physical and psychological health. Eat a balanced diet that contains equivalent portions of vitamins, proteins, minerals, and healthy carbs. Rather than stress eating, practice mindful eating. Make conscious healthy food choices, eat slowly, and chew properly which also helps in better digestion.

Social Connection

Sometimes even after doing regular exercise, healthy eating, and practicing mind-focused techniques one may feel overwhelmed with stress. No matter what they do they are unable to break free from this vicious cycle in such a condition don’t be afraid to reach out for help. 

Do not feel embarrassed, connect with friends and family and share your worries with them. Seek professional help if needed, stress affects people on different levels. For one person practicing healthy eating habits and exercising regularly might do the trick and minimize stress symptoms but for others, even after constant effort, a person can feel stuck and overwhelmed. Never compare your situation with others and make an informed decision to seek professional help after considering your situation and needs.

Conclusion

If you are suffering from chronic stress or are overwhelmed with prolonged stress, you should not feel embarrassed about it. Talk to others, and ask for help rather than quietly struggling with it because if not dealt with properly stress can give rise to various physical and psychological medical conditions. 

It may affect your relationships with others and hinder your productivity and growth on the professional front. Pay more attention to yourself and if you feel things are getting out of hand then please seek out professional help. Stress is manageable and one can overcome it by making consciously right choices.