Stress Management: Self-Help Techniques For Dealing With Stress

Isabel Speckman
Contributing Author, Conscious Reminder

There are days when you feel anxious with just every little detail, days you feel so wound up that anything and everything can set you off. During these times living seems way harder than it should. The worst part is, it literally does feel like there’s nothing you can do about it.

According to a fitness expert from Vivotion, you have a lot more control than you think. With the right knowledge, proper training, and a lot of practice, stress becomes a lot easier to manage… Bonus points if you have regular exercise!

So when we feel we’re unable to cope, when the pressure is bearing down on us — further affecting our daily activities, it’s important to remember that by learning to manage stress, we can lead a happier and healthier life.

Managing Stress For A Healthier Life

We all want to have a balanced life. A life where you can have time for work, family, friends, fun, relaxations, and especially time for yourself. But stress can ruin all those things.

Stress management, that is to say, learning how to handle stress will allow you to control and keep charge not only of your thoughts but also your emotions, your lifestyle, and the way you cope with problems.

How You Can Reduce, Prevent, and Cope With Stress

So the goal here is to have a balanced life and to have the strength to hold up under pressure.

When you have the power to deal with your thoughts and emotions, not only will it benefit your overall health, but it will boost your mood and immune function as well.

Example: promoting longevity is one of the fantastic benefits of reducing stress.

But it’s important to note that being healthy is not just about being physically fit (though it does help). For many people stress begins and ends with mental health, and the skills and techniques to help manage it.

Fitness experts at Vivotion.com have compiled a few pro-tips to manage stress better.

Identify Your True Sources of Stress

Pinpointing the root of your stress isn’t as easy as it sounds. To identify the causes of your stress, you may want to look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:

  • Do you define stress as a part of your home or work life or part of your personality?
  • Do you tend to put the blame of your stress on other people or outside events?
  • Do you stop yourself from engaging in healthy habits, for one reason or another?

Your stress level will stay outside your control until you accept the responsibility in maintaining it.

But asking yourself these questions may be a difficult exercise, as your thoughts have the tendency to circle around again and again. To make your thoughts more concrete and less ephemeral we suggest…

Starting A Stress Journal

Not only will this technique allow you to identify the causes of your stress in your day to day activities, but this will also help you to deal with them. So whenever you feel stressed, get your journal and keep track of it.

Take it as your daily log, and trust me; you will later begin to see the patterns and common themes. Here are the things you can jot down:

  • What caused my stress?
  • How did I feel physically and emotionally?
  • How did I act in response?
  • What I did to make myself feel better?

If you exercise, this is doubly important. This allows you to check your mood before and after a workout! You see, physical activity has been proven to lessen your overall stress levels and eventually improve your quality of life, both mentally and physically. So why not add exercise to your stress management plan?

You can even, make a separate page on your stress journal specifically for your workout logs. You can jot down the following:

  • How did I feel before the workout?
  • How do I feel after the workout?
  • I haven’t worked out in X number of days. How does that make me feel?
  • I’ve consistently worked out for X number of days. How do I feel now?

Unhealthy Ways of Dealing With Stress

The following ways below may temporarily help you to reduce stress; however, they cause more harm in the long run.

  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Overeating
  • Undereating
  • Sleeping too much
  • Procrastinating
  • Spending too much time watching TV
  • Taking out your stress on others such as lashing out and physical violence
  • Using pills or drugs to relax

The Healthier Ways to Manage Stress

There are healthy ways to deal and cope up with your stress; however, they all demand change.

You can start a new activity, like: sports, a hobby, tabletop games, etc. Doing so will allow you to engage in like-minded folks that will either help get you physically fit or get you mentally satisfied. Both things help with stress levels.

If introspection is more your thing, it’s best to whip out your handy journal and get to writing. Beginning with you being honest to yourself about what you are stressed about, and making a decision. It’s either you change the situation or you change your reaction to the situation. These 4As will help you to decide which option you can opt for.

Dealing with Stressful Situations: The Four A’s

  • Avoid
  • Alter
  • Adapt
  • Accept

Change the situation:

  • Avoid the stressor.
  • Alter the stressor

Change your reaction:

  • Adapt to the stressor.
  • Accept the stressor.

Stress Management #1: Avoid Unnecessary Stress

Let’s face it; not all stress can be prevented. Be mindful that it’s not healthy to avoid any situation that needs to be addressed.

Below are the tips on how you can avoid unnecessary stress:

  • Learn to say “no”.

You should know your limit and learn to stick to them.

  • Avoid people who stress you out.

Limit the time you invest with the person consistently causes stress in your life.

  • Take control of your environment.

If you hate traffic and it makes you tense, then take a longer but less-travelled route.

Dodge argumentative topics.

Cross all the topics off your conversation list that makes you upset, e.g. religion or political issues.

  • Cut down your to-do list.

Practice analysing your schedule, responsibilities and daily tasks. Determine the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Learn to drop the functions that aren’t necessary.

Stress Management #2: Alter the Situation

If you can’t avoid a stressful matter, then try to alter it. This may often involve changing the way how you communicate and function in your everyday life.

  • Voice out your feelings instead of keeping them to yourself.

If something or someone is bothering you, be more assertive and convey your concerns openly and respectfully.

  • Be willing to compromise.

When asking someone to change their behaviour, then be willing to do the same.

  • Manage your time better.

Remember, poor time management can cause you much stress.

Stress Management #3: Adapt to the Stressor

If you can’t change the stressor, then learn how to change yourself. By learning how to improve your expectations and attitude, it will help you to adapt to stressful and situation and regain your sense of control.

  • Reframe problems.

Try to view any stressful situations from a more positive perspective.

  • Look at the big picture.

Take the perspective of the stressful situation. If you think it’s not worth getting upset over, then it’s time for you to focus your time and energy elsewhere.

  • Adjust your standards.

Stop setting yourself up for failure by requiring perfection. Learn to be okay with “good enough.”

  • Practice gratitude.

When your life is full of stress, learn to take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in life. This includes your positive qualities and gifts. Practising gratitude can help you keep things into perspective.

Stress Management #4: Accept the Things You Can’t Change

One of the best ways to cope up with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may not be easy, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.

  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable.

Keep in mind that many things in life are beyond our control, especially the behaviour of other people. Instead of stressing over them, why not focus on the things you can control like the way you choose to react to problems.

  • Look for the upside.

When facing difficult challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for your personal growth.

  • Learn to forgive.

People make mistakes, and we’re living in an imperfect world. Learn how to go of your anger and resentments. Learning how to forgive will free yourself from the negative energy.

  • Share your feelings.

You can talk to a friend that you trust enough or make an appointment with a therapist.

Stress is, indeed, an uncomfortable feeling. Ignoring or avoiding isn’t the answer, and it won’t help you out. Being mindful of how you’re feeling can help you feel calmer and will help you to have a healthier pattern in life.

About the Author: Isabel Speckman is a North Carolina-based freelance writer and work-from-home mother of three. In her 10 years as a professional writer, she’s worked in proposal management, grant writing, and content creation. Her writing skills may be confirmed independently. Personally, she’s passionate about teaching her family how to stay safe, secure and action-ready in the event of a disaster or emergency.

Sources: Stress Management – brainline.org 4As – helpguide.org

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