7 Techniques to Manage Stress
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Everyone experiences stress at some point. However, many people experience stress almost daily or constantly - Every day. Chronic stress can cause harm to your emotional and physical well being, and it's directly correlated with multiple health conditions, mental health diagnoses, and is linked to drug and alcohol use or addiction.
Chronic stress can cause physical changes in the body as well as changes in the brain. Stress is one way that your brain tries to protect your body from perceived threats in the world, so stress can trigger the feeling of danger and the need to protect yourself, engage in incessant activity, or over-eat, among others. This is your fight or flight system at play - When your brain believes that you are in danger, your body and brain begin to produce hormones and neurotransmitters that trigger the stress response, and your body goes into high alert. Some of these hormones and neurotransmitters include adrenaline, dopamine and epinephrine, which are necessary for basic functioning, but too much is an indicator of an excess of stress impacting the body.
Emotional and Physical States Under Stress
Stress can cause an emotional strain, where you may have intrusive thoughts such as or a sense of hopelessness or helplessness. Emotional stress can impact all of our life areas - Our ability to function daily, our performance at work, and even our ability to show love to our family at home. Over time, we may have little to no patience with others or cannot stay focused long enough to complete tasks at home or at work, which can lead to even more stress. Compounding stress without any relief may eventually result in anxiety or panic attacks. Panic attacks can be debilitating expressions of the body's stress response, which may feel like a heart attack when increased heart rate, heavy breathing, physical and emotional restlessness, tingling or feeling of electricity in hands and feet, a strong urge to escape, racing thoughts, and other symptoms emerge.
The key to stress management is to know the techniques and practice in a non stress state. This is vital so that the skills feel natural and reflexive. The following are stress management techniques:
7 Stress Management Techniques:
1. Where is the stress coming from?
Try to determine if there is a specific stressor or situation that is triggering the feeling of stress. A good way to begin this process is to write down a list of what may be causing the stress. Keep a journal, and enter in new things everyday and delete any of the stressors that are resolved.
2. Identify Solutions
With each situation that you identified as a source of stress, try to develop a potential plan to resolve the issue. You can brainstorm for potential solutions, and after you think of ways to resolve the issues, put them into action. If there are 5 things that are causing you stress, try to pick one issue and work out the problem, then move to the next problem-solution. If the plan does not work, try to think of another solution and put that into action. Continue and repeat as necessary.
When you are anxious, your heart rate will increase. Using deep breathing techniques will decrease this response and relax your body, which will relax your brain. Deep breathing involves taking deep, long breaths through your nose and then exhaling slowly through your mouth. Take a class in Yoga and Pilates, which also focuses on mind body techniques can help master the art of deep breathing.
Mediation is also a good mind-body technique. Mediation involves relaxing the mind and the body at the same time. There are many meditation techniques, including mindfulness meditation and guided imagery. Use of music and aromatherapy are also often included in meditation. Find one style that works best for you, and do it regularly!
Exercise has been proven to release bursts of neurotransmitters and hormones that can help you to feel good, and it can expel the negative physical energy created by stress. Exercise can also improve your self esteem, which can help you feel more motivated and in control of making changes.
6. Have a Support network
Surround yourself with people who love and care about you. Friends and family who understand and empathize with your situation can be a source of positive support and help you to get through the situation or feelings of stress. Make a phone call or go for a cup of coffee. Talking out the stressors can be very helpful in identifying how best to manage these feelings or in determining a plan.
7. Seek Professional Help
Seeing a professional counselor or psychiatrist can be helpful. Because anxiety is a mind-body experience, the best treatment protocol often involves use of medication and psychotherapy to decrease and manage anxiety and stress symptoms.
There is help for chronic stress. Stress management techniques can help improve your day to day functioning and overall well being.
- Kim B.