Sometimes it might feel like nothing is under your control– the bills keep piling up, long travelling hours, unending work, and demanding family responsibilities. You are caught in a vicious circle.
You realise you are both physically and mentally exhausted to the point where you can’t be stretched further. But the good news is that you can do a lot more about it than you might think. The simple identification of the fact that you are under ‘stress’ lays the foundation to manage stress.
Managing stress is all about taking charge of your life, knowing your thoughts and emotions, how they lead to stress and taking active steps to alleviate it. No matter how stressful your life might seem, there are solutions and strategies you can use to improve the situation at hand.
There is no single definition of stress that everyone agrees on. What might feel stressful for one person might feel pleasurable or have little effect on others? We all react to stress differently. Anything can cause stress, this includes a broken relationship, getting or losing a job, getting married, being a parent, getting divorced, health ailments, relocation or transfer, climatic change, financial concern and the list just goes on.
The physical effects of stress are inevitable. Prolonged stress releases a stress hormone called cortisol, whose prolonged release, in turn, decreases the immunity of your body leading to health conditions like headache, insomnia, hypertension, digestion problems, and sometimes stroke or a heart attack. Untreated or unattended stress may lead to poor mental health conditions like depression, anxiety or mood disorders.
Hence controlling stress effectively becomes the need of the hour. Here are some tips that will help you manage stress better.
The first step towards stress management is the identification of different sources of stress. Start by maintaining a stress journal where you record all the sources of your stress and order them in a hierarchy of how much distress they cause. Also, record your reactions to each of them.
The next step is to accept the presence of stress and know that it’s very common to get stressed in the face of adversity. It is even more important to know that there is always a solution, all that we need to do is look for it.
Now that you have identified the sources of stress, the next step is to take action by adhering to the following self-help techniques:
a) Manage time: Don’t overbook yourself. Attend only those tasks which you can complete. Only things that are a priority should be chosen first. Later if you have time you can choose the non-priority ones. Organize to-dos. It helps save time and energy
b) Learn to say no: Say ‘no’, especially when your priorities are not met, and you are struggling to manage time. You can always find time later to explain.
c) Talk to others: Talking to others can be a great way to manage stress. You realize you are not the only one suffering from stress and you also get quick access to how others are dealing with stress.
d) Make time for fun and relaxation: It is important to carve out some “me” time. Don’t get too 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 stressors.
e) Exercise and Meditate: Exercise and meditation are absolutely essential. It activates your parasympathetic nervous system inducing a state of relaxation, relieving you of stress.
f) Maintain sleep hygiene: It is important to have proper 6-8 hours of sleep but most importantly you must have a sleep schedule. Often deterioration in the quality of sleep leads to exaggerated symptoms of stress.
g) Dietary modification: Managing stress through dietary modifications is an excellent coping mechanism. Dry fruits, sugar-free chamomile or jasmine tea and dark chocolate with less sugar are an excellent stress-relieving indulgence.
h) Read and educate yourself: Read often and educate yourself on new research and techniques to deal with stress. When something bothers you, you can’t afford to be ignorant about it.
Words of wisdom
Remember, there is never a ‘complete absence of stress’. Hence, manage it as much as you can and leave or accept the rest. Despite all the above-mentioned self-help techniques, if you still feel you are unable to deal with stress, then know it’s time to seek professional help. Help is available when you ask for it. Download the mfine app and get in touch with your city’s top mental health experts.