Ways to manage stress
Stress is no doubt a part of our daily lives and to some extent, can even be beneficial. However, learning to manage it is important so it does not become overwhelming and debilitating. This takes some practice.
Here are some ways that can help you get started.
1. Relaxation techniques
One of the fastest ways you can relieve stress is by taking deep breaths. This can be done anywhere; in the car, angkot, bus on your way to work, or even when you are seated on your desk studying. Start by inhaling and exhaling. While at it, bring your attention to your surroundings focusing on sensations of taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. This act of mindfulness can be beneficial to give the thinking mind a break and allow it to clear some of the clutter that fills it all day.
2. Identify the stressors in your life
Being able to identify the things that trigger stress allows you to address them individually.
After listing them down, you can start ordering them according to priority with the top being most important or urgent.
3. Time management
It is common for one to tackle their tasks continuously without taking a break, as the usual mindset is that there simply isn’t time to pause. Remember that this is an unproductive way of going about things as this makes you prone to facing a burn-out, which may lead to demotivation.
The next time you plan your schedule, try slotting these in:
Social plans with loved ones
Having face-to-face interactions with the people you love causes the body to release hormones that will reduce stress and anxiety.
Moreover, speaking about the specific stress with friends and family can help tremendously. Though talking about it may not fix the problem, the mental support that comes with sharing can make you feel less overwhelmed and stressed.
Making time for a particular hobby is also important. Taking a step back to rest, relax and recharge your batteries can help you boost motivation and deal with overall stress better.
4. Lifestyle changes
Get adequate sleep
Sleep is an important aspect in your daily life. Without sufficient sleep, our body produces a stress hormone known as cortisol. Without adequate sleep, you may also lack the energy to face and tackle the source of your stress. This may evolve to become a vicious cycle that may lead to long term impacts both in physical and mental health.
If you are struggling with this, you may try different relaxation techniques that will allow you to sleep better at night such as meditation or yoga before bed.
Click here to learn more about the importance of sleep and mental health.
Exercise is proven to help with stress as it releases endorphins, a hormone that boosts pleasure and increases feelings of happiness.
Exercise can also serve as a distraction or a mental break from the source of stress. In a way, it is an act of mindfulness as you are focused on the present when you focus on the breathing, movements and coordination that comes with exercise. This time out will allow you to refresh when you come back to face your stressors.
Avoid or reduce caffeine, sugar, alcohol, drugs and nicotine consumption
Caffeine, sugar, alcohol, drugs and nicotine have different effects on our brain chemistry.
Whilst caffeine and sugar may produce temporary improvements in mood and energy, once this wears off, you will feel a sudden dip in energy. Consumption of caffeine and sugar near bedtime may also disrupt sleep.
Alcohol, cigarettes and drug consumption may provide momentary relief, however it is important to note that it is temporary. These substances do not address the stressful situation itself. In fact, consumption may lead to unwanted behaviours such as lashing out at friends and family or reduced feelings of pleasure. Not only that, there are long term consequences for both your physical and mental health. These can add to your stress levels.
To read more about smoking nicotine and its effect on mental health, click here.
To read more about alcohol, drugs and its effect on mental health, click here.
Remember that while we can all take steps to keep our stress levels in check, seeking professional help is always an option if you feel that it cannot be done alone.