The National Institute of Mental Health defines stress as the brain’s response to any demand. A number of factors can trigger stress including change, exams, work obligations, etc. and while lower amounts are healthy and serve as motivation, unresolved and chronic stress has a tremendous ability to put our health in jeopardy. Health risks associated with stress include obesity, headache, digestive issues, anxiety and depression, sleeplessness, anger, irritability and weakened immune system with a higher risk of catching viral infections. For these and many other reasons, it is necessary to be proactive and control stress. Although stress isn’t something you can avoid for the rest of your life, there are many ways you can manage it successfully and this article will show you how.
1. Identify Stress Triggers
Successful stress management depends on one’s ability to pinpoint triggers that cause it. The American Psychological Association recommends you should monitor your state of mind throughout the day. Write in your notebook or even a smartphone whenever you feel stressed out and cause of this mood. Why is this important? It’s because that way, you’ll identify triggers that cause stress and develop a plan to address them. For example, you can set more reasonable expectations for yourself and other people or ask for help with household chores. You can also write down all your commitments and highlight priorities. Eliminate* all tasks that aren’t essential or start completing the assignments according to the priority status.
2. Build Strong Friendships
Humans are social beings and not just because you’d feel bored otherwise, but because socializing improves* your overall health and wellbeing. The role of social interactions and bonds in reducing* stress has been studied in a number of species from rats to elephants, but the evidence of how our friends and family help us cope with the stressful situation was still inconclusive. However, the latest research published in the journal Nature Communications found that friends don’t just create a social “buffer” by helping us cope with stressful times, they also reduce* our overall stress just by being present in our lives. Strong, healthy friendships have a potential to regulate the way our organisms manage stress-indicating hormones. When under stress, most people prefer being alone, but you should do the opposite.
3. Exercise Regularly
According to the paper from the Primary Care Companion, exercise improves* mental health by reducing* depression, anxiety, and overall negative mood. Physical activity also improves* one’s self-esteem and cognitive functioning while preventing social withdrawal. Here’s how exercise helps manage stress:
- It boosts* production of endorphins or feel-good chemicals
- Exercise is a meditation in motion; when you’re working out, jogging, or playing some sport, you forget about stressful situations and other problems
- Regular exercise makes you feel relaxed and helps you learn how to “take it easy”
The type of physical activity depends on you. There’s no “one size fits all” rule here because any kind of activity is better than no activity at all. Ideally, you should opt for something you like. That way, you’re more likely to stick to the regimen.
4. Count to 10, walk away
As mentioned above, stress isn’t something you can avoid, even though everyone would like that. There’ll come the time when you’re facing a very stressful situation that could make you angry or even furious. When confronted with these events, people tend to react the way they regret later. Fortunately, you can avoid that. Before you act, count to ten, reconsider what you were going to say or, simply, walk away. That way, you won’t react harshly, and your stress will, in fact, reduce*.
Another useful thing you can do when facing a stressful situation is taking a few deep breaths. It’s a great way to calm your mind down, avoid reacting , and de-stress furiously. These methods are incredibly easy to execute, yet highly effective.
5. Talk to a Professional
If you notice that regardless of what you do stress persists, you should consider talking to a professional. Unfortunately, most people are reluctant to visit a therapist or other licensed mental health professional, but they can help you not only deal with stress but to successfully manage future stressful situations. People with chronic stress sometimes don’t know where to start solving their problem which is why seeking professional help is a step in the right direction. This is particularly useful for individuals who aren’t able to identify triggers easily.
While lower stress levels can be beneficial and help us stay motivated or finish our projects at work successfully, higher levels or chronic stress are damaging for one’s health. The problem occurs when you don’t do anything to de-stress, so it just piles on and weakens your immunity, makes you feel anxious or depressed, and so on. This article showed you easy ways to deal with stress in an entirely natural manner, start today.