It can feel like you can’t do something about the level of stress. The bills will not stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day for all your errands, and it will always be demanding for your career or family responsibilities. But there’s a lot more control you have than you might think. Managing stress is really about taking charge: taking charge of your feelings, your emotions, your routine, your atmosphere, and the way you cope with problems. A healthy life is an ultimate objective, with time for jobs, friends, rest, and recreation, plus the resilience to stand up under pressure and face obstacles head-on. You’re putting your entire well-being at risk if you live with high levels of stress. As well as your physical wellbeing, stress wreaks havoc on your mental balance. It reduces your ability to think clearly, work efficiently, and enjoy life.
That’s why it’s important to experiment and find out what works best for you. The following stress management instructions can help you do that.
Identify the sources of stress in your life
Stress management begins with the discovery of your life’s causes of stress. This is not as clear as it sounds. While it is easy to identify major stressors, such as changing jobs, moving, or going through a divorce, it can be more difficult to identify the sources of chronic stress. How your own emotions, feelings, and actions lead to your daily levels of stress is all too easy to forget. Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines, but perhaps it’s your procrastination that causes the stress, rather than the actual job demands.
Look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses to identify your true sources of stress:
Do you explain stress away as temporary even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather (“I just have a million things going on right now”)?
Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy here”) or as part of your character?
Do you blame other people or outside events for your stress, or do you see it as completely normal and unexceptional?
Your stress level will remain beyond your control until you take responsibility for the part you play in generating or sustaining it.
Start a stress journal
A stress journal will help you understand the daily stressors in your life and the way you cope with them. Keep track of it in your journal each time you feel stressed. You will begin to see patterns and common themes as you keep a daily record. Just write down:
What triggered your stress? (if you’re confused, make a guess) How you felt, both emotionally and physically?
How did you act in turn?
Learning healthier ways to manage stress
If your stress coping techniques do not contribute to your greater emotional and physical health, it is time to find healthier ones. There are many healthy ways to deal with stress and cope with it, but all of them require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. It’s helpful to think of the four as stop, change, adapt, or embrace while determining which choice to select.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to handling it because everybody has a unique stress response. For anyone or in any case, no particular strategy works, so play with various techniques and strategies. Rely on what makes you feel in control and relaxed.
Dealing with circumstances of stress: The Four A’s
Change the situation: Avoid the stressor. Alter the stressor.
Change your reaction: Adapt to the stressor. Accept the stressor
Peer group & social support
A network that includes an individual’s family, friends, and peers who can support the person emotionally and mentally is called a social support network. Psychologists suggest that a good network of social support contributes to a stronger stress-coping experience.
Sense of Security: Your social support network has it all – information about your difficult situation, advice about how to handle stress, and even the silence and listening ear you need when you encounter burnout. When you have them close by, you know you are safe even though stress seems to consume you.
Source of Strength: When you feel like giving up because of too much tension, your network of social support is there to remind you of your ability to cope with the stressful situation. They can genuinely help you with resolving issues you can’t control yourself.
Feeling of Belongingness: You may feel lonely in times of difficult moments when no one is there to comfort you. It will make you feel a lot better to call a friend, your parents, your workmate, or your church mate and talk about your feelings, emotions, and thoughts and remind you that there’s always someone to comfort and support you.