Stress has become an all-pervasive part of all our lives in the 21st century world of fast information access and technology, magnifying the need for a focus on stress management. Quite often, you can’t even pinpoint the source of stress yourself. It can accumulate over time and over small things that might seem inconsequential when seen on their own. However, they can have a psychological effect that should not be discounted, which can in turn lead to physical health problems.

A lot of us are so surrounded by the phantom of stress over our heads that it has become a norm in our lives, and it becomes easy to forget what life was like before. Stress leeches the enjoyment out of your experiences and you must remind yourself that it can be managed.

Your therapist can advise you and analyze your triggers, but having some tried and true techniques for personal stress management are useful to have in your own repertoire. These are things you can make a habit of, in order to mitigate some of the effects of stress and to greatly improve your quality of life. They will give you some control over the cause and effect relationship that leads to stress and will help you to be proactive.

Identify the Stress Originators

The first thing to do is figure out what the causes of stress are in your life. Some might be obvious, like job difficulties, but some might not seem to contribute to stress overtly, and that is where a little bit of analysis comes in.

What you have to do is identify the root cause, not just the overlying cause. For example, if your cause of stress is difficulties at your job, you need to narrow it down. What, in your opinion, is the reason for said difficulties? They might be due to miscommunication, or resentment about one party getting credit for something, etc. The only way you can tackle a problem is if you know what exactly the problem is and the same goes for stress management.

Steps for Stress Management

In many cases, stress becomes such a part of the norm that you can predict when it will happen. For example, work can be stressful, meeting someone particular might generate the same feelings, and the list goes on, unique to each person.

1. Avoid the Stressful Situation

One of the most common originators of stress is taking on too much work and responsibilities, more than you can handle. When you stretch yourself too thin, life turns into a series of hectic and seemingly never-ending tasks. One of the best things you can learn to do to take care of your own health and for stress management is to understand, acknowledge, and respect your limits.

You need to cut down on your tasks and carve out more free time for yourself personally. Figure out which tasks need to be handled by you personally and then delegate the rest. This is a method of avoidance i.e. you avoid or reduce your time spent in the situation giving you stress. This can apply to various things and even people. If a certain person gives you anxiety, you can cut them out of your life or minimize your time with them as much as possible. This is especially important around the holiday season, when there might be pressure on you to meet family members who stress you out. You have to think about your own mental health first of all, and if that means disappointing some people, that might be necessary.

2. Change the Situation

The second method of stress management is to try to change the situation itself. One of the main ways to do this is with simple communication. You can verbalize your stress and just tell the other person how the situation is making you feel instead of trying to keep it in and risking overwhelming yourself. Practice saying NO to people. Another way you can change the situation is to accept a little bit of compromise.

– If you have realized that the stress originators are your own habits or behaviors, list them down and think of concrete ways of tackling them. If you have money troubles or just cannot seem to manage finances properly, you can easily get help. For example, there are dozens of apps on the market, like YNAB or Mint, which help you set limits and catalogue exactly where all your money is spent.

– If your headache is that you just can’t seem to get a job to stick, or you can’t get a job in the first place, look into places you haven’t thought of before. Jobs from home might also be a good option for you.

– If your job is stressful, maybe the reason is that you try to do too many things yourself. The idea of management is to delegate successfully. Delegate tasks to specialized personnel and your job is automatically less draining.

3. Change Your Outlook on the Situation

Thirdly, try to change your outlook on the situation. If you simply have to deal with a stressful situation or person, think of the positives that it can generate. Think of the wider consequences it can have, or try to re-evaluate your principles to make them more manageable for yourself.

4. Make Peace with the Situation

And finally, when all else fails, try to make peace with a situation you can’t change. Some things in life are unavoidable, depending on your situation. Practice letting go of hurts and disappointments, and forgiving people for their mistakes.

Exercises for Stress Management

Exercises for stress management can be divided into mental and physical exercises. They revolve around centering yourself by either focusing all your mental energies towards reinforcing behaviors or physically grounding yourself with something repetitive. The idea is to distract yourself from your underlying worries and in doing so grant yourself the clarity to come up with a solution or the strength of mind to be able to get through it.

Mental Tips and Tricks:

  1. Efficiently manage time to avoid creating stressful situations.
  2. Take time out for your hobbies and interests.
  3. Try to get sufficient sleep.
  4. Try relaxation techniques for stress management: Focus your mind on positive things that bring you joy or serenity. Even a certain word can calm you if you concentrate all your mental energies on it. Words or phrases such as ‘peace’ or ‘I am in control’ have been observed to be quite effective. If your thoughts start drifting off, consciously bring them back to repeating just that phrase or word.

Physical Exercises:

  1. Take any excuse you can to stretch out your limbs. Working out is an excellent tool for stress management.
  2. Practice breathing exercises.
  3. Practice yoga.
  4. Eat regular and healthy meals.
  5. Read fiction/light-hearted, comedic books.
  6. Watch comedies.
  7. Try out a new hobby. Nothing is too childish to try at least once. Adult coloring books have been proven to help in many cases.
  8. Go out and breathe in nature and greenery. Ecotherapy has been widely proven in scientific studies to reduce stress and depression. If you cannot go out, you can easily bring nature inside by having indoor plants or even just recordings of sounds from nature like that of a bubbling stream.
  9. Call a loved one. Social support is highly significant. It allows you to release the stress verbally and safely instead of brooding over it and making it worse.
  10. Physically release the tension by getting a massage or a spa treatment.
  11. Another physical avenue of stress relief is to use stress balls or fidget spinners. The idea is to distract your mind with something repetitive, and, in the case of stress balls, something moldable.

If none of the above seems to be helpful, you might have chronic stress, which in a lot of cases can lead to depression. You should get professional help before the problem escalates.

Stress might seem like too insignificant to go to a therapist for, or you might even think that you can never get rid of it and it’s useless to even try. However, it is one of the most pervasive symptoms of countless mental health conditions—from depression, PTSD to even personality disorders. It may even be the cause of many physical changes in your body, from hair loss to psoriasis, obesity to heart attacks and many more.

Do not allow stress to take over your life. Seize control in small ways and you will slowly become aware of how much you had been missing out on previously.

Did we miss any methods of relieving stress that have helped you out in the past? Comment down below to let us know.

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