by admin

October 1, 2021

Stress is a major factor in many people’s lives and has increased during the current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Research indicates that stress can harm the quality of your life and even have a serious impact on your health. Let’s look at why managing stress is so important and some simple techniques for reducing it. 

Living in a Stressful World

Stress is a natural reaction in humans as well as all animals. A surge of adrenaline allows a living creature to react quickly in the face of danger. If you’re about to be hit by a car, for example, stress helps you get out of the way faster. In the modern world, however, people are often under prolonged stress that isn’t related to an immediate threat. A number of long-term issues can contribute to stress, such as:

  • Financial uncertainty.
  • Conflict in personal relationships. 
  • Anxiety about society or politics. 
  • Widespread health concerns such as COVID-19.
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed by work and responsibilities. 

In such situations, stress doesn’t help you cope more effectively but actually makes you less resourceful. Prolonged stress is also linked with health problems such as hypertension.

Now let’s look at how to reduce, manage, and overcome stress.

Be Aware of Stress

Knowing how you feel is always the first step towards making positive changes. When you’re living a busy life, it’s easy to walk around feeling anxious, tense, or stressed-out without being fully aware of it. Long-term stress can start to feel normal. 

It’s important to check-in with yourself frequently and be aware of how you’re feeling. Keeping a journal is one way to help you to increase self-awareness. This doesn’t have to take up a great deal of time. Simply jot down how you’re feeling at various points in the day. Another option is to record your feelings using a smartphone or if you want to go even further – take a full inventory of your stress levels, what is causing you stress and your coping mechanisms over a period of a week or so.

Deal With Stressful Situations Proactively

Be aware that sometimes it’s not an actual problem that’s causing you stress but your attempt to avoid dealing with it. As noted, stress is healthy when it alerts us to an immediate situation that needs our attention. When we experience stress regularly, it can be a clue that we’re not dealing effectively with certain issues in our lives. The solution isn’t to suppress the feeling with a pill or drink but to deal with it. 

A good question to ask yourself is, “What can I do at this moment?” If there’s an appropriate action to take, don’t procrastinate as this only contributes to more stress. You may need to do research, have an honest conversation with someone, answer an email, or plan a strategy to deal with a problem. 

Take Care of Your Body

There’s a strong link between the condition of your body and the way you handle stress. A simple example is that you’re more easily thrown off balance if you’re hungry and/or tired. Paying more attention to your daily habits can help you deal better with stress.

  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Fatigue is a major stress factor. If necessary, make changes that will help you get more rest such as going to bed earlier. 
  • Avoid stimulants and depressants. Excessive ingestion of alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and mood-altering drugs contribute to mood spikes and stress. 
  • Get more exercise. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress. Strenuous activities divert your mind while giving your body a workout. They can also help you sleep better. Slower and more meditative exercises such as yoga, tai chi, and qi gong can also help you to relax. 
  • Use natural supplements. Certain herbs and other natural remedies can help reduce stress. Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee as well as many healthy antioxidants. Many people find it relaxing and makes a good coffee alternative. Other supplements that may help are Omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish oil), calcium & magnesium (best taken together), Vitamin B supplements, and Bach Flower Remedies, especially Rescue Remedy. 

Simple Techniques to Reduce Stress

Here are some actions or exercises that can help you feel better in minutes. 

  • Focus on your breathing. When we’re under stress, our breathing tends to get shallow. Taking longer, slower breaths is one of the fastest ways to feel calmer. One simple method is the 4-7-8 breathing pattern. Breathe in through the nose for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, breathe out through the mouth for 8 seconds. 
  • Meditation. Regular meditation is one of the most effective tools for reducing stress. It’s also a great way to increase self-awareness.  
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). A series of gentle tapping motions based on acupuncture points. You can do this for general relaxation or to address specific issues. There are numerous YouTube videos that you can follow along to and then do them on your own. 
  • Distract yourself. If you’re thinking about a stressful issue and there’s nothing you can do about it right now, put it aside. Even taking small actions can change your state. Do something that improves your mood, whether it’s taking a walk, listening to music, exercising, talking with a friend, or petting your dog or cat. 

You Can Learn to Manage Stress

It’s difficult to live a completely stress-free life. Your goal should be, rather, to experience stress when it’s appropriate and learn how to manage it the rest of the time. The above techniques can work. You may also have your own favourite methods. The first step is to be self-aware so you know when stress is getting the better of you. 

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