Stress Management Techniques
A little bit of stress can be a good thing .. It can motivate you to study for exams and push yourself beyond your boundaries. But increasingly the down side of stress on the body and mind is coming under the microscope. Here are a few easy stress management techniques to help reduce your anxiety and see you through those times when you feel overwhelmed.
1. You tend to feel stressed when you feel you don’t have the resources to cope with whatever the situation is. No situation is inherently stressful, rather it is the feelings of not being able to cope that cause the tension. What might be stressful to you might be perfectly neutral to me, even extreme situations. It also helps if you have high social support around you, people to confide in and talk to.
There is also the theory that those who have a high stress mindset, that is they believe the some stress is good for them and they are able to handle whatever is coming their way, are far better at dealing with stressful situations than those who avoid stress and feel that they are not adequately equipped to deal with situations that cause stress. This stress management technique shows that if you look at stress as being a positive in your life and use it to make positive changes you will be better able to handle it.
2. Stress creates stress – Recent research has shown that if you allow current stress to then be reflected in your behaviour, this will then give a negative energy out to those around you and will in turn create more stress for those close to you that will then feed back to you. By constantly worrying, obsessing or being neurotic, you can create real problems in your relationships that will then lead to further stress.
3. How you start your day can help determine the level of stress you feel – if you wake up feeling negative and sad then it is likely that the rest of your day will continue in the same vein. It can cause all sorts of havoc with the flow of your day and can cause you to view things more negatively than they need be. If you wake up and don’t feel great, take some time to try to change your attitude.. perhaps meditate or practise gratitude and try to think of reasons why your day will be positive and happy.
4. Get more sleep – Sleep is critical to our physical and psychological well being. The less sleep you get the less able you are to be able to deal with anxiety or depression or even negative events. The catch 22 is that the more stressed you are, the less able you are to get a good nights sleep and the higher your sleep disruptions. Try to have a bedtime ritual, perhaps a herbal tea and turn off all electronic devices at least half an hour before you go to sleep. Want a good nights sleep? These may help.
5. Stress can be caused by having to be nice and friendly when you don’t really feel like it. For some people, they work in jobs where part of their job is to be nice to people who aren’t particularly nice to them (think a call service or complaints department operative). For those who tend towards being positive and upbeat, this isn’t too difficult, some people actually thrive on being nice in such situations. But if you tend towards negativity and bad moods, having to be nice to people who are angry or stressed can make you in turn stressed. One of the key tools that you can use in a situation like this is to use empathy, or stand in the other persons shoes. More tips on lowering stress levels are here.
6. Learn to say no – it is so easy to become over scheduled and take on too much. Setting boundaries and being mindful of your time as a precious resource is a great way to cut down on doing things for other people that you don’t really want to do. It’s not as difficult as it sounds, simply be polite but firm. If you want to say no but really feel that you can’t in person, use the words “I’ll have to think about it and get back to you.” You can then always text them later to say you have thought about it and can’t right now.
7. Make sure you eat well and are hydrated – taking care of yourself and making sure your body and brain are well nourished is a critical part of lowering your stress levels. Your body needs nutrients to properly function and your brain especially so for making sure it has enough dopamine and serotonin to help keep your emotions stable and that you feel good. More tips on easy ways to eat well are here.
8. Meditate – This is one I find difficult but it is infinitely good for stress. If you are a beginner, or just a lazy meditator like me, doing guided meditations can be a good halfway point. There are lots of YouTube videos or CDs around with relaxation guided meditations that will help your brain cope better with whatever stressors come its way. Best of all its free and you can do it anytime, anywhere. More tips on how to meditate are here.
9. Massage – yep well you are on a massage website! Seriously, many studies have shown that massage is a key way to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body, and is a sensational way to relax and unwind. It not only has the physiological effect but also affects the chemistry of your brain. So take an hour or two to really relax your body and mind so it is better able to deal with any stress that may come its way and book in a massage.