Stress is a feeling known to us all. However, healthily dealing with stress is something that most overlook owing to our busy lives. This blog mentions some useful and simple stress reduction techniques that you can practice regularly with minimal effort.
What is stress?
Stress is the physiological reaction of our body in response to any demand or challenge. It can be due to an exam, a job interview, a situation where you had to speak in front of people, deciding on a career in life, and so on. It can make you feel angry, nervous, frustrated, or even fearful.
Contrary to popular belief that stress is always bad or negative- there’s another kind of stress called Eustress which is the good and minimal amount of stress that motivates you to do better. Feeling no stress before an exam can lead to not preparing well for it, but a little stress can help you prepare well for the exam. Distress on the other hand is the intense negative stress that reduces performance.
Common Symptoms Of Stress
While for most people initially, stress might feel like butterflies in the stomach, other physical symptoms of stress include- difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle aches, and pains, sleep problems, constipation/diarrhea, indigestion or heartburn, high blood pressure, dizziness, sweating, rashes or itchy skin, panic attacks and even changes to the menstrual cycle.
Emotional or psychological symptoms of stress might include- feeling depressed, irritable, angry, feeling uninterested, having racing thoughts, feeling a sense of dread, loneliness, or feeling overburdened.
Identifying the signs and symptoms of stress can be helpful so that we all can manage the stress using certain stress reduction techniques.
Stress Management Techniques
Stress serves an important purpose- it enables us to respond quickie to threats and avoid danger. Lengthy exposure to stress might lead to mental health difficulties like anxiety, depression, or increased physical health problems.
While most people believe that stress reduction might involve difficult techniques that need to be learned, reducing stress involves taking little steps in your daily life. Some of these steps are:
- Eating and drinking to optimize health- Some people try to cope with stress by consuming alcohol or eating too much. These behaviors might seem to help at that moment but in the long run, they might be harmful to the health. Consuming a healthy and balanced diet can help to reduce and manage symptoms of stress.
- Reducing stress triggers- Most people find that they have too much to do in little time. When we look at these things carefully, most of these things that we have to do or fulfill are the ones we choose ourselves. You can free up your time by practicing time-management skills and prioritizing the tasks at hand. You can reduce stress triggers by asking for help when it’s appropriate, setting priorities, pacing yourself, and reserving time to take care of yourself.
- Stop using tobacco and nicotine products- A lot of people smoke as a form of self-medication when they are feeling stressed. For a short period, it eases the stress symptoms by giving a feeling of immediate relaxation. However, it causes your heart rate and blood pressure to increase making it more difficult for the heart to relax. Also, when a person tries to cut down their consumption of nicotine, they experience irritability, fatigue, and poor concentration. Completely stopping the intake of nicotine in different forms like cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, and wet and dry snuff and the dried leaves from the tobacco plant can help deal with stress and would help you in the longer term.
If you or someone you know is suffering from tobacco addiction, reach out to them. Quitting tobacco use is beneficial for the individual as well as the community.
- Assert yourself- Learn that it is okay to say “NO” to demands on your time and energy. You will always come across people who will not like when you say no, but remember that you don’t always have to meet the expectations of others. If they love you for who you are, saying no will not affect how they feel about you. If you didn’t get enough sleep today, you don’t have to go to the family dinner tomorrow. Sometimes saying no to stress is putting yourself first.
- Set realistic goals and expectations- At some time, you might feel like you are unable to reach the goals that you set for yourself. Just have a quick look at them and think - are these goals realistic? If you wake up at noon every day, you can’t start waking up at 5 a.m suddenly and change your life within a day. (It would be exceptional and great if you can). It is normal and healthy to realize you cannot be 100% successful at everything all at once. Be mindful of the things you can control and work on accepting the things that you can’t control. Setting unrealistic and very high expectations will disappoint you and can put more stress on you.
- Biofeedback- During a biofeedback session, a therapist attaches electrical sensors to different parts of your body. It helps in providing information about muscle tension, heart rate, and other vital signs as a person attempts to relax. It is used to gain control over certain bodily functions that cause tension and physical pain.Biofeedback can be used to help you learn how your body responds to stressful situations, and how to cope better. If a headache, such as a migraine, begins slowly, many people can use biofeedback to stop the attack before it becomes full-blown.
- Study and practice relaxation techniques- You can take some time to relax every day which can help you manage the stress and protect your body from its effects. You can choose from several techniques such as deep breathing, imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation. There are many online videos and smartphone apps that guide these techniques. You can simply go on youtube and type the name of the technique that you want to learn and try.
- Sell yourself to yourself- When you’re feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself of what you do well. It is okay to take a break once in a while. While social media and the people around us make us believe that it is important to be productive every day, it is not true. Your health, both mental and physical comes first. Appreciating yourself and giving yourself a break helps in having a healthy sense of self-esteem.
A WORD FROM SOCIALLY SOULED
These are a few tips that can help you get stress under control. One of the best ways you can manage and control it is by coming up with your ideas that have worked on reducing stress in distressing moments. You can also look for suggestions from your healthcare provider. Counseling can also help you recognize the stress factors that may not be readily obvious.