MANAGE YOUR STRESS
Updated: Jan 13, 2020
Our bodies are designed to withstand some degree of stress. What it is not designed to do is maintain a constant fight-or-flight response over a long period of time. Whether it is your job, your personal life, or your family, the effects of excessive levels of stress will eventually bleed into the other parts of your life. Your job performance will especially begin to suffer: you can’t deal with setbacks as easily, you lose your temper more often, you don’t think clearly, and if left long enough, you will experience burnout.
The following effects are some of the inevitable symptoms of prolonged stress upon the body:
1) Weight gain and heart problems
Stress by itself does not necessarily result in weight gain, but people who are placed under constant stress are more likely to eat fattening and salt-heavy foods. This can also arise indirectly – intense, high-stress jobs can sometimes encourage people to eat a lot of take-out and fast food, which will also contribute to the problem. This all exacerbates the strain put on your heart, which is already dealing with a persistently elevated heart rate and blood pressure.
2) Persistent fatigue
Stress doesn’t just affect your mental state; your entire body as a whole suffers. Stress results in your adrenal glands working overtime to maintain its fight-or-flight response. In the short term it can increase your performance and concentration, but over time it exhausts your body and depletes it of its strength.
3) Irritability and a reduced capacity to handle setbacks
All people have a limit as to how much stress they can deal with in a day. The more you feel, the more overwhelming it will seem when things go wrong. If you’ve ever seen somebody completely snap over what was a seemingly minor issue, they were most likely under a substantial amount of stress to begin with. The effects of stress on your mental health can be quite significant.
This is the end result of prolonged periods of high stress. Burnout is characterized by a deep sense of detachment, lack of motivation, persistent exhaustion, and apathy. You’ll see this frequently occur in extreme-stress jobs: air traffic controllers and investment bankers are two examples.
Why is it so important to manage stress?
If you’re living with high levels of stress, you’re putting your entire well-being at risk. Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional equilibrium, as well as your physical health. It narrows your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life. Effective stress management, on the other hand, helps you break the hold stress has on your life, so you can be happier, healthier, and more productive. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun—and the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.
The following stress management tips can help you to manage your stress:
Tip 1: Identify the sources of stress in your life
Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses. Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.
Tip 2: Practice the 4 A’s of stress management
While stress is an automatic response from your nervous system, some stress arise at predictable times: your commute to work, a meeting with your boss, or family gatherings.
The 4 A’s of stress management
i) Avoid unnecessary stress
It’s not healthy to avoid a stressful situation that needs to be addressed, but you may be surprised by the number of stress in your life that you can eliminate.
ii) Alter the situation
If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
iii) Adapt the Stress
If you can’t change the stress, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
iv) Accept the things you can’t change
Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stress such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.
Tip 3: Get moving
When you’re stressed, the last thing you probably feel like doing is getting up and exercising. But physical activity is a huge stress reliever—and you don’t have to be an athlete or spend hours in a gym to experience the benefits. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good, and it can also serve as a valuable distraction from your daily worries.
Tip 4: Connect to others
There is nothing more calming than spending quality time with another human being who makes you feel safe and understood. In fact, face-to-face interaction triggers a cascade of hormones that counteracts the body’s defensive “fight-or-flight” response. So make it a point to connect regularly—and in person—with family and friends.
Tip 5: Make time for fun and relaxation
Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by carving out “me” time. Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stress.
Tip 6: Manage your time better
Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. Plus, you’ll be tempted to avoid or cut back on all the healthy things you should be doing to keep stress in check, like socializing and getting enough sleep.
Tip 7: Maintain balance with a healthy lifestyle
In addition to regular exercise, there are other healthy lifestyle choices that can increase your resistance to stress.
· Eat a healthy diet
· Reduce caffeine and sugar
· Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs
· Get enough sleep