Isn’t it true that none of us are immune to stress?
According to Gallup’s global emotions report, 4 out of 10 adults experienced stress in 2020, around 40% of their survey’s respondents. The increase in the number of people that deal with stress is attributed to the sudden surge of the Covid-19 pandemic.
No matter how much we try to avoid it, there will always be events beyond our control that can cause us stress. It just always happens to everyone. Despite this, it is still a struggle for many people to cope with stress and continue to live with it day by day.
But do you know what separates you from everyone else when it comes to stress? It is how we react and manage to cope with it. In this article, we aim to provide you with tips on how you can deal with and manage stress.
What is stress?
Feeling more irritated or frustrated about work or recent events in your life that didn’t go the way you expected them to be? If your answer is yes, then you are probably experiencing stress.
According to Mind.org.uk, a charity based in the United Kingdom, they defined stress as a person’s reaction when they are under pressure or threatened. Stress frequently occurs when you are confronted with situations they believe they cannot handle.
Causes of stress
Stress is a normal reaction for each and every one of us. Our human body is designed to react to stressors and be able to cope, adjust and relieve stress.
Stressors are beneficial in the improvement of our stress response. As a result, when we start experiencing stress again, we can maintain a positive attitude, stay alert, motivated, and prepared to deal with it.
Here are the other benefits of stress:
- It enhances your brain and cognitive function
- Stress can build and strengthen a person’s resiliency
- Stress can boost the body’s immunity by stimulating the production of interleukins.
However, keep in mind that stress becomes a problem when the things that cause us stress occur so frequently that we are unable to rest.
Trying to combat stress can be a huge challenge for anyone, and the fact that you need to avoid stress can make you even more stressed. To help you prevent stress, we have listed some of its common causes.
- Sudden changes in life
- Too much workload and pressure
- Being pessimistic or having negative thoughts
- Relationship with other people
- Financial issues
- Job Loss
How does stress affect your physical and mental health?
Many people believe that stress is the number one silent killer. At first, stress may appear normal, and you may think ignoring it will quickly reduce stress. However, the more you ignore and become accustomed to it, the greater its risk to your overall health.
The effects of stress are often seen in a person’s state of mental health. For instance, it manifests through insomnia, fatigue, memory loss, or worse, depression, panic attacks and anxiety.
Being under constant stress can not only affect your mental health but also brings impact to your physical health. According to Red Cross, long-term stress can lead to:
- Increase in your blood pressure
- Risk of developing heart disease
- Back and neck pain
- Gastrointestinal-related problems such as diarrhea, heartburn and ulcer
Stress management is the key to reducing stress
As we have previously mentioned, proper stress management is the best way to respond to stress. Managing stress means taking control of your life to make it enjoyable and to make yourself happier.
The best way to start your stress management journey is by knowing and understanding “what brings stress to your life.” With knowing the cause as your starting point, you should then look for various ways to reduce it. (We will introduce the ways to eliminate stress in the next section of this article.)
For example, suppose an excessive workload causes your stress. In that case, you can look for ways to reduce it by properly managing your time or trying not to overwork yourself and doing things gradually.
You may also seek help or advice from professionals to guide you and receive expert opinions to manage your stress.
Fast-acting stress relief strategies you should know
How can I help relieve anxiety in my daily life? Some habits can help reduce stress and improve health in general. People exercising regularly tend to become less stressed at times of tough challenges. So you have to build an environment that can reduce stress and make it more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Stress is an energy eliminator. Many people are making big sums of money writing about ways to cushion the effects of stress after a pressure-packed day or week. These advices are very useful, but they don’t eliminate the problem because its sources are still around, waiting for its next big break to put your life in disarray.
But we can eliminate some of them, the ones considered unnecessary, by changing some habits and taking steps to eliminate some of your life’s stressors and decrease stress hormones.
1. Know Your Stressors
As previously mentioned, identifying the factors that cause your stress is the first significant step to determining what can be removed—knowing which causes your stress points you in the right direction on how to eliminate it.
To start, think of the top 10 things that stress you and list them down, then begin to determine which of them can be eliminated. Eliminating your stressors one at a time narrows down the more important issues you should focus more and how you will deal with them.
2. Dump Unimportant Commitments
Being committed to many things is a source of stress. Our involvement with family, work, religious activities, sports, recreation and hobbies can lead us to unnecessary commitments.
Commitment is essential for anyone because it allows them to stick to the goals they set for themselves. And that is great. But having too much commitment may not also be that great for anyone.
Take time to consider each of them and determine the amount of stress they provide against the value they give you. Remove the ones that stress you the most.
Sometimes, a lot of commitment can hinder you instead of helping you achieve your goals. Having responsibilities beyond what you can handle brings pressure and stress, which affects how you perceive it.
3. Do Not Do for Tomorrow What You Can Do Today
Procrastination is one of the biggest sources of stress. It can even become more problematic in your everyday life when it starts to become one of your unhealthy habits.
For example, the more you put off work that you could have done today, the more it will pile up. When it piles up to the point where you can no longer keep up, you will start feeling overwhelmed about not being able to accomplish everything before the deadline.
By allowing your “to-do list” to get longer, you are actually stressing yourself out. Do your tasks as scheduled. This will give you some breathing space. Accomplishing things on time can give you a feeling of relief.
Listed below are some tips to keep you away from procrastinating to manage stress effectively:
- Stay away from things that distract you
- Take a break for just a few minutes
- Set deadlines and goals
- Prioritize to accomplish the most important tasks
- Have positive self-talk when you accomplish a task
4. Be Organized
Being disorganized is a significant factor that can rob you of energy; it stresses you out.
In fact, according to a study, staying organized at home, work or school can reduce your cortisol levels.
Being disorganized may cause you to procrastinate more because you don’t have a plan for which tasks to complete first. Using a planner to keep track of your daily tasks can help you reduce stress and improve your time management skills.
By staying organized and keeping track of your own time, you can practice healthy ways to reduce mental stress. Get organized by designating a place for everything and ensuring everything is in its place. Start with your desk, then apply it to your home.
5. Avoid Being Late
Are you always the type to come to class or meetings late? Then probably, it is now time to start improving your sleeping habits.
Being late causes us to rush and it stresses us out. Avoid getting stressed by being late. Be punctual.
On average, people are expected to get up to 8 hours of sleep per night. Giving yourself enough time to focus and complete your task and enough time to fall asleep is the first step in managing stress.
Once you are able to improve your sleep quality, waking up on time wouldn’t be a problem. Getting enough sleep allows you to stay focused and energized throughout your day at work.
6. Stop that Controlling Behavior
Trying to be in control of situations and people we don’t have the power to manipulate can give us stress and anxiety. Stress hits further whenever you let your emotions control you during your most challenging time.
Although it is expected that the body responds this way, you should never forget to learn to adjust and accept the way people do things. You cannot control other people and the events around you, but you can control yourself.
Trying to control your emotions and behavior is one of the most important relaxation techniques to lower stress levels. The more you dwell on stressful situations at the present moment, the more stressed you will become.
7. Avoid Multitasking
While it seems to make you super-productive, multitasking slows you down and takes its toll on you through stress.
One of the most common causes of stress is pressure — and multitasking is one way to put your brain under stress. Just so you know, while we can multitask, our brain is designed to focus on one set of tasks at a time.
When we simultaneously switch from one task to another at the same time, the brain struggles to keep up. If this occurs, instead of speeding things up, it will take you longer to complete the task and reduce the quality of your work.
So rather than multitasking, try focusing on one task at a time, taking a short break, and then moving on to the next. This way, you are not only able to avoid more stress but also get to provide support to improve your productivity.
8. Avoid Unhappy Thoughts
People deal with a different form of problems in life. Thoughts of unpleasant memories or of people you don’t like can stress you out and drain your energy. Do not allow this to happen.
At some point, some people turn to unhealthy habits such as drinking alcohol or smoking as their way to relieve stress. The thing is, there are a lot of healthy ways to reduce stress and improve mood.
When unhealthy thoughts creep in, you should not try to shift them into positive ones. Here are some ways to help you avoid unhappy thoughts:
- Look for a quiet place to think things through
- Take deep breaths or other forms of breathing exercises
- Get social support by talking to a family member or a friend
- Do some physical activity
9. Avoid Difficult People
Some people think they are doing their best by making simple things complicated. These people are everywhere, and they are easy to spot. Avoiding these types of people is also a form of self-care.
Dealing with difficult people will only cause chronic stress. Ignoring them rather than paying attention to them is the best response you can give.
However, if there are some circumstances in which you must speak with them, you should always try to keep the conversation neutral and short. Getting irritated by difficult people wastes precious energy that you should put to better use.
The benefits of exercise go beyond losing weight and strengthening us. Exercise is also the most common way to relieve and prevent stress.
Regular exercise allows the body to regulate the production of endorphins, which relax the body. It is effective in the sense that it makes you fit and gives you a good sense of well-being.
A healthy person is also more capable of handling stress than unhealthy ones. Being sick or unhealthy can already make one stressed and tired. Doing exercise regularly also helps foster a positive mood and boost your self-esteem.
Stress relief starts with you!
Stress is unavoidable; it can hit anyone at any time. But it will always be easier to get through if you have the right mindset and healthy habits to combat it.
Whatever stressful events occur in your life, remember that having a strong will and focus to get through it fosters growth in oneself.
Be stress-free; live your life to the fullest. You can learn more about this by reading our mind booster blog posts.