Taking care of your stress
Stress is, unfortunately, part of our daily lives. We experience short-term stress in multiple environments and it usually leaves a person feeling a little upset or anxious. However, the side effects don’t leave a long lasting impact on your mind or body.
Long-term stress, on the other hand, is much more detrimental to your mental and physical state. Dealing with stress over long periods can lead to several undesirable symptoms.
When long-term stress is not effectively managed, it can significantly decrease your quality of life. Some of these symptoms include sleeplessness, loss of appetite, chronic pain (headaches, back pain), compromised immune system, inability to focus, impaired memory, constant anxiety, unpredictable moods, and fatigue.
Constant stress gradually breaks a person down, until eventually rendering them incapable of managing their stress healthily. It’s, therefore, easy to see how this kind of ongoing stress could link to the development of more serious mental health problems, like depression and anxiety disorder.
Think about it:
when you’re always stressed out, you lose sleep. The lack of sleep can result in a decline in your mood and may cause fluctuations of irritability. If it lasts for more than a few days, you’ll find yourself losing focus, forgetting important things, and having more and more mood swings. These shifts increase your feelings of stress, and symptoms of anxiety start to become visible. Tension headaches or back pain is often part of the picture. You overeat or eat too little, because of your over-anxious mind.
You are so weighed down that you can’t be bothered to take care of yourself. Even getting out of bed requires effort. When this happens, healthy ways of coping go out of the window, and now things like alcohol and other substances seem like excellent ways to cope with your stress. Suppose your mood is always dragging you down, and your negative thoughts start to spiral out of control.
In that case, it can lead to significant depression. Which is a severe mental health problem that is left untreated can be debilitating. In these cases, identifying stress and using healthy coping mechanisms right from the start can prevent depression and anxiety disorder from developing.
Throughout the year, many of us have been exposed to more stress than our bodies can manage. Now more than ever, we need to find new ways of coping, because what once was – is no more. Stress management is not a one-size-fits-all; it varies from person to person. That’s why it’s crucial to try out different coping techniques to find one that suits you. The following stress management tips might work for you.
Stress tip 1: Identify the source of your stress.
Identifying your sources of stress isn’t as straight forward as it seems. It might be easy to identify significant stressors such as financial strain or going through a divorce. However, pinpointing sources of chronic stress will be much more complicated. To give you an example of this we can look at your working environment.
Sure, you’re aware of closing deadlines which cause significant stress. Although when we consider thoughts and behaviour, one might argue that it is your procrastination that sits behind the stress, not the workload or job demands.
Identifying these small traits about yourself will give you an in-depth look to determine the cause of stress:
Stress tip 2: Practise the four A’s of stress management.
Avoid people or situations that stress you out. If something you’re aware of continually causes you to stress, it’s time to cut it loose.
Take control of your environment and alter it according to your needs. If constant traffic bugs you, take the route less travelled. If the news is making you anxious turn off the TV. Remember that you and you alone are in control.
The absolute truth is you can adapt to stressful situations and regain control. It is in your human nature to overcome and adapt. It is what keeps us alive and going. The same is true for everyday stress. Taking back control starts with changing your expectations and your attitude.
Last but not least. Accept the things you can’t change. Some sources of stress are unavoidable; therefore, learning to accept what you can or can’t change is super beneficial when it comes to stress management. It may not be easy at first, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
Stress tip 3: Get Moving and get active
When you’re feeling down in the dumps, the last thing you want to do is physical exercise. But what we fail to realize is that physical activity is a massive benefit in relieving stress. You don’t need to exercise like a professional athlete, even just 15 minutes of exercise a day will already help.
Although, below are some other activities you can work into your daily routine:
- Put on some music and dance a little
- Take your dog(s) for a walk
- Cycle around the block if you can
- Whenever you can, use the stairs instead of the elevator
- If you can, swim a few laps in the swimming pool
- Get yourself a training partner and hold each other accountable for the exercise
Stress tip 4: Find an authentic connection with others, it’s essential
There’s nothing more calming than spending quality time with friends or loved ones. Make the time and set up a coffee date. Face to face connection triggers several hormones that counteract the body’s natural flight or fight response. Human connection is nature’s natural stress reliever. So make it a point to connect regularly with those whose company you enjoy.
Stress tip 5: Make time for yourself and fun activities
Other than taking a proactive approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress by making time for yourself. It is easy to get caught up in the fast-paced environment we live in, so don’t forget to take care of yourself. If you regularly make time for yourself, you’ll be able to deal with life’s stressors, more effectively. Find a hobby or do something you can enjoy every day, it’s up to you to find your happy place.