Managing Stress Effectively

If you’re living with high levels of stress, you’re putting your entire well-being at risk.


Ella Samuel

As we all know, there will never be more hours in the day, and your work, studies and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control than you might think. If you’re living with high levels of stress, you’re putting your entire well-being at risk. Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional equilibrium, as well as your overall physical and mental health. It narrows your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life.

Effective stress management helps you break the hold stress has on your life, so you can be happier, healthier, and more productive. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun and the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head-on. But stress management is not one-size-fits-all. That’s why it’s important to experiment and find out what works best for you.

The following stress management tips can help you do that:

1: Identify the sources of stress in your life: These sources may include work stress, going through life complications, studies, divorce etc, but it’s all too easy to overlook how your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors contribute to your everyday stress levels. So, until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.

2: Cut out unhealthy ways of dealing with stress: We have to kill the idea of resorting to unhealthy and unproductive ways of coping with stress. Most of these unhelpful strategies can temporarily reduce stress, but in the long run, they cause even more damage. These include:
 Smoking, drinking too much or using drugs to relax.
 Binging on junk or comfort food.
 Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or phone.
 Withdrawing from friends, family, and social activities.
 Sleeping too much.
 Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems.
 Procrastinating.
 Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence).

3: Practice the 4 As of stress management: Avoid, Alter, Adapt, or Accept
Avoid unnecessary stress
Learn how to say “no.” and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, stop taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress.
 Avoid people who stress you out.
 Take control of your environment.
 Avoid hot-button topics
 Prepare your to-do list, and analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks.

Alter the situation
If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
 Express your feelings instead of bottling them up
 Be willing to compromise.
 Be more assertive.
 Find balance. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout.

Adapt to the stressor
If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
 Reframe problems
 Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation.
 Adjust your standards.
 Practice gratitude.

Accept the things you can’t change
Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.
 Don’t try to control the uncontrollable.
 Look for the upside. When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth.
 Learn to forgive.
 Share your feelings.

We will continue the remaining tips on stress management next week.
Make sure to put these few you have at your fingertips to work. Stay tuned.

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