FACT: Stress is a part of life. We all do it, even though we know we shouldn’t. Stress negatively effects our health and our relationships, yet in some way, shape or form, we are all guilty of letting stress get the better of us. Using myself as an example, I work with clients each and everyday helping them to manage their stressors, I explain the physical and hormonal challenges stress places on our body, our health and our happiness, but every now and then, I still catch myself in a midst of confusion, frustration and helplessness. Sometimes I find stress completely overwhelming and I don’t know where to turn, other times I take a deep breath and realise these things happen and I move forward. Whether or not you think you are coping with your stressors, or if you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, this week’s guest post discusses a number of ways to deal with stress in every day life. Such a fantastic read, I feel so empowered just having uploaded it! Check it out!
A guest blog
What is stress?
Stress seems as though it is a fact of life. Even the most well managed lifestyles experience some level of stress. Researches have for some time been correlating the relationship between stress and disease. The results? Not what we might have hoped for.
What is Stress?
Stress is a response to the mind feeling threatened, whether it be at work, at home or on the road. Stress can take many forms.
What are the types of Stress?
- Situational stress is associated with short term changes in ones life including moving house, going on a holiday, getting a speeding ticket or learning new skills. One of the best ways to understand situational stress is to refer to it as stress happening right now or in the moment.
- Chronic stress can be an accumulation of small stressors or the result of problematic changes to ones life including, marriage or separating from a partner, coping with pain or illness, redundancy or taking on a new project like building a house. While chronic stress is the experience of increased tension over longer periods of time, it’s the inability to fluctuate ones mood which is the most debilitating. Chronic stressors are related to factors associated with our environment, our social situations, hormonal changes, poor nutrition, inadequate sleep and the way we think. Chronic stress that is not managed or treated can lead to significant medical illnesses and anxiety disorders that can result in depression. Stress may contribute to physical illness such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
How to manage stress?
Avoid unnecessary stress
Know your limitations.
- Learn to say “no” – know your limits and stick to them.
- Avoid people who may cause you stress – if someone consistently causes you stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with them.
- Take control of your environment – if there are certain events in your life that are stressful – eliminate as many as you can.
- Avoid stressful topics – if you consistently get upset over certain topics, stop bringing them up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.
- Reduce your to-do-list – If you have too much to do distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary.
Alter the situation
If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future.
- Express your feelings instead of bottling them up – communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way.
- Be willing to compromise – when you ask someone to change their behavior, be wiling to do the same.
- Be more assertive – deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them.
- Manage your time better – when you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and relaxed.
Adapt to the stressor
If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. Regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
- Reframe problems – try and view stressful situations from a more positive perspective.
- Look at the bigger picture – take perspective of the stressful situation.
- Adjust your standards – stop setting yourself up for failure; set reasonable standards for yourself and others.
- Focus on the positive – reflect on your own positive qualities and gifts.
Accept the things you can’t change
Remember some stressors are unavoidable. In some cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things the way they are.
- Don’t try to control the uncontrollable – many things in life are beyond our control. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control.
- Look for the upside – when facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth.
- Share your feelings – expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic.
- Learn to forgive – accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments.
Make time for fun and relaxation
Make sure that you schedule some me time for self care. It will reduce your stress, increase your productivity and boost your happiness.
- Talk to a friend – one of the most effective forms of stress relief comes from talking with friends, but only the ones you know who have your best interests at heart. They are good listeners, supportive and almost always, come up with strategies to cope with stressors, or at the least put it in perspective for you.
- Going for a walk / Exercise
- Play with a pet
- Get a massage
- Listen to music
- Read a book
Be sure to set aside relaxation time in your daily schedule and try not to allow other obligations to encroach. Try and do something you enjoy every day and try and keep your sense of humor and the ability to laugh at yourself.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle
One of the most effective ways to managing stress is adopting a healthier lifestyle. Research has shown that those who lead a healthier life, cope with stressors a lot better.
- Exercise regularly – physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress.
- Eat a healthy diet – Eating a diet high in quality fats, proteins, fruit and vegetables whilst reducing your intake of refined and processed foods will only enhance your body’s ability to cope with stressful situations.
- Reduce caffeine and sugar – by reducing the caffeine in your diet, you will feel more relaxed and you will sleep better. Further research has suggested that those who eat a diet free from processed foods and caffeine suffer from less anxiety, depression and disease.
- Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs – self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary.
- Get enough sleep – adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Aim for 8 hours per nights.