What is Stress
Stress is a state of physical, mental or emotional strain that occurs in response to real or perceived events which occur in our everyday lives. It is the way our bodies respond and adjust to a continually changing environment. Stress can be positive or negative. In a positive sense, stress can force us into action; it can induce feelings of excitement and new levels of awareness. In negative sense, it can bring on a range of adverse effects such as anger, depression and extreme anxiety. This can in turn lead to physical problems such as headaches, skin rashes, ulcers, high blood pressure and in extreme case heart disease and stroke.
What Causes Stress
Stressors are the causes of stress; they are events in our lives that threaten or challenge us and can be external or occur in our minds. Stressors come normally in one of three forms: daily hassles, major life events, and catastrophes, and can occur within many domains of life such as family, work and school. Examples of such stressors include upcoming project deadlines, getting married or the death of a loved one.
The Effects of Stress
Stressors induce what is commonly called a stress response in us, that is psychological, physiological, and/or behavioral reactions to stressors. Stressors cause a release of chemicals in our brain producing a feeling of tension or threat, affecting the way we think and feel both emotionally and physically. Examples of stress responses are anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties and muscle tension.
How to Manage Stress
Whether we like it or not stressors are a part of our everyday lives. We will be constantly challenged and or threatened in some way shape or form. Fortunately there are ways we can reduce or even prevent a stress response when a stressor occurs. Firstly, our personal experience with stressors can reduce the stress response simply because we know what is likely to happen. Secondly, having belief in ourselves and maintaining a positive attitude can change our perception of stressors. Finally, we can use various coping skills, such as relaxation techniques, to help view stressors as less threatening and hence reduce the stress response.
Stress Management Tips
Whether we like it or not stressors are a part of our everyday lives. We will be constantly challenged and or threatened in some way shape or form. Fortunately there are ways we can reduce or even prevent a stress response when a stressor occurs. Listed below are our new 101 stress management tips effective for managing, reducing and coping with stress.
These tips have been featured on EzineArticles.com and have earned the author platinum status.
Maintain a positive
in life as much as possible. It is best to see the
glass as half full rather than half empty. Do not look at a problem
as a hindrance but rather as a challenge and opportunity to grow.
to those that promote stress in your life. This may mean
not over committing yourself or not doing things you don’t
want to do just because a friend asked you.
Breath correctly using abdominal
shallow breathing. Expand your abdomen as you breathe in through
your nose, hold, and then breathe out through your mouth, and hold.
In most cases the things you worry about have a very low likelihood
of occurring and usually don’t eventuate. At worst, accept
your concern as a possibility and let it go.
. Meditation has a positive effect physically, emotionally
and psychologically and can produce a state of relaxation that benefits
the heart, the brain, the lungs and blood.
, systematically tensing and relaxing various groups
of muscles in an orderly sequence. You will not only feel more relaxed
but you will learn to recognise the onset of muscle tension due
. Stretching loosens up stiff tense muscles and increases
the flow of blood and nutrients to the cells of your body. It reduces
mental and physical stress, tension, anxiety and promotes good sleep.
If you believe in God, then
pray to God
. Don’t just
ask for help, talk about what happened during your day. Knowing
you are not alone and that you can talk to a being that is all powerful
and merciful is a great form of stress relief.
allows you to manage your ever increasing workload concentrating
on the most important tasks at hand. Delegation increases the responsibility
and enjoyment of those under you as they take on new tasks.
such as going to the gym, for a run or playing a competitive
sport, can become an outlet that allows you focus on an enjoyable
activity while literally forgetting about the stressful events that
occurred during your day.
. It is not just a series of physical movements which is
beneficial to the body, but is also made up of meditative and deep
breathing exercises which provides a calming effect and better sense
of well being.
Develop a balanced
that focuses on all aspects of your life, including
you work/studies, your family and relationships, your social life,
your interests, your spiritual needs and most importantly you.
your time carefully. List all the main tasks you need to achieve
at the start of each day. Eliminate any activities that are considered
wasteful and non productive. Become more efficient in the regular
tasks you attend to each day.
Maintain a healthy
. Eat more fresh fruit, whole grains, vegetables,
lean meat and fish, and less fat, salt, sugar and alcohol. This
will enhance your immune system and keep your energy levels
. Financial worries can add to your stress levels.
In essence you must spend less and save more. Set a budget and record
everything you spend. If you need help seek expert financial advice.
Do not take work home,
unless absolutely necessary. Try to maintain a clear boundary
between work and home. This gives you the opportunity to recover
from the stresses of
encountered during the day, and feel more rejuvenated
the following day.
The state of your
energy body and chakras are directly related to you physical,
emotional and mental state. Maintaining a healthy
will not only help deal with stress and
many other challenges that life may bring.
Increase your energy
levels with Yoga. Yoga is
specifically designed not only to help you become strong
physically but also energize your body by focusing on
the ‘prana’ entering your energy centers while
holding specific physical positions.
especially when you are feeling angry or stressed. Research has shown
that smiling can actually help you feel happier, lower your heart
rate and produce a calmer breathing pattern.
a non-aerobic form of exercise which improves flexibility, strength
and balance requiring concentration and focus. It offers the same
benefits if not more than just stretching and physical exercise
Kung, a health exercise which regulates the flow of Chi through
the acupuncture meridians. Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine
theory, Chi Kung is excellent for quieting your mind and regulating
Learn a martial
art. Physically this will improve your co-ordination, flexibility,
strength and general endurance. It will not only teach you concentration
and focus, but more importantly you will learn how to defend yourself.
Get a massage.
A massage can relieve muscle tension and stiffness, and improve
the range of motion of your joints. Studies show a massage can reduce
the heart rate, lower blood pressure and increases blood circulation,
responsibility for where you are in your life. By adopting
this attitude you no longer become a victim who has handed power
over to some one else but rather an empowered individual who can
solve all problems.
calm, especially during times of stress or intense emotions.
Combined with deep breathing, this can help produce a state of calmness
emotionally and psychologically.
down exactly what is bothering you. In a lot of cases, the
solution to a problem that may be causing you stress can be arrived
at very easily by identifying and writing the problem on paper.
your limits so you can prevent life from becoming too stressful.
Don’t try to fit too much in, over commit yourself or attempt
to over achieve to the point of breaking down.
rest. A major key to performing at your best and dealing
with stress is being well rested both mentally and physically. Make
sure you go to bed early at minimum one night per week.
Being low in energy can make
you tired and contribute to stress. To get more energy introduce
high energy foods into your diet such
as bananas, pineapple, strawberries, spinach and cabbage, red meats
and even high-energy smoothies.
your iron intake. If you are low in iron, you can become
mildly depressed which can definitely inhibit your ability to deal
with stress. Try eating foods high in iron including lentils, spinach,
tofu and lean beef, as well as iron supplements.
ample water. On average you should be drinking eight glasses
of water per day, otherwise you run the risk of becoming dehydrated
which can result in feeling lethargic and low in energy, and hence
more susceptible to stress.
Surround yourself with
positive and supportive people
and influences. Minimize contact with people who are generally
negative or stressed. Do not listen to people who are pessimistic
or overly critical of you.
Adopt the following as your
personal philosophy: "Have the
serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage and resolve
to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
away your Stress. Laughter is a good tool for managing the
challenges in your life that would otherwise make you feel overwhelmed
and stressed. It reduces muscular tension caused by stress and contributes
to the production of endorphins, natural pain killers for your body.
Go for a walk.
This is not only a good stress management remedy but also a great
form of exercise that anyone can do. This is particularly beneficial
during stressful times at work or after having had a heated debate.
Make walking a regular activity in your day, either in the morning,
during lunch, or in the evening.
a mantra, a meaningful word or phrase, through out the day
and or night. Studies have shown that mantras can help you better
cope with stress. Your mantra can be spiritual in nature, such as
“Amen” or “Om”, or not totally unrelated
to any tradition such as “Calm”.
personal life can help you better deal with stress especially
at work. This may mean spending ample quality time with your loved
ones or regularly catching up with friends.
herbal tea. Different herbs are known for target and support
specific parts of the body including the nervous, circulatory and
cardiovascular systems. It is the ideal drink for dealing with stress
and other ailments including colds, flu and fatigue.
to music (that you like). Music has an incredible ability
to change your mood and relieve stress. It can not only be used
to sooth, but also to “rev” your energy levels when
from the lesson. Sometime stress can be caused because of
a mistake you have made or some other adverse circumstance that
has occurred. Rather than brooding over it, look at the lessons
that can be learnt from the experience.
time off or vacations. It is important to regularly take
time away from the stresses in your life. Regular vacations or breaks
give you that opportunity to recharge your batteries, reconnect
with yourself and prevent burn out.
Try to keep
your chin up. Especially when you feel things are at their
worst, try to keep your chin up and chest out. During times of crisis,
things always appear extremely hopeless. This time will pass. Things
will be better tomorrow.
Take up gardening.
Gardening not only allows you to connect to Mother Nature, but also
serves as a great form of physical activity. Research has also shown
that being in a garden or even just viewing can relieve stress.
Take a walk along the beach.
Natural surroundings are known to trigger relaxation responses deep
in the brain. The beach in particular with its fresh air and rhythmic
rolling in of waves can have a calming effect on you.
to friends and family. Sometimes is helps to talk to friends
and family when you are feeling stressed. While they are not professional
counsellors, talking to them give you a chance to express your feelings
professional help. If stress is just
too overwhelming you may want to seek outside help from a counsellor,
health professional or life coach. A professional therapist can
help you rationalise and provide strategies on coping with stress.
a course. A course in stress management will teach you how
to recognise the symptoms of stress and how to effectively deal
with it. If poor time management is your problem a course in this
area is also extremely useful.
a hobby. Getting immersed in a hobby or interesting activity
is a great form of stress relief. It allows you to forget the outside
world for a while especially those things that are contributing
towards your stress.
a book. Reading can be a great escape from stress because
it forces you to focus on something other than your own troubles.
Also research has shown that people who read have a better ability
to understand how other people think and feel, and become better
equipped in dealing with problems.
See a feel
good movie. Like reading, a good movie also gives you the
opportunity to focus on something other than your own worries. It
is important to wisely pick a movie that is positive and makes you
feel good, not one that is depressing.
visualization or guided imagery.
Think about a time or place when you were relaxed and content. By
recreating the situation in your mind, recalling the sights, smells
and sounds, your emotions will change which will have a positive
effect on you physically.
can be a great stress reliever. It not only takes your mind off
your worries, for a period of time, it promotes deep breathing,
physical activity and provides a great sense of touch.
your reliance on alcohol and tobacco. While such alcohol
and tobacco may make you feel good temporarily, they are actually
having a detrimental affect on your body which may contribute or
add to the stress you are feeling.
in peace. Don’t look for arguments just for the sake
of it or go out of your way to see the bad side of people. You will
inevitably cause yourself angst and stress. Rather look at the positive
side of people and what they have to offer as human beings.
comfortable clothes. Uncomfortable clothes, clothes that
might be too tight, make you feel too hot or too cold, or make your
feet hurt can make you feel more physically tense and contribute
to the stress you feel.
reliance on drugs for managing and dealing with stress. Drugs
can have a negatively chemical impact on your body which ultimately
creates further stress. Rather look at various strategies to reduce
and manage your stress.
To minimize stress and anxiety
at work, school or home, divide large overwhelming tasks into smaller
achievable tasks. See each small task as progressive steps
towards your end goal.
bottle up your feelings. Express your feelings to in a positive
manner to those who may be causing you to feel stress. In many cases
such people do not know the negative impact they may be having on
a journal that explores the thoughts and feelings that you
had during the day. Journaling is known for counteracting the negative
impact of stress. It not only helps clarify your thoughts but also
assists in releasing emotions that were created.
your stress triggers. So what triggers your stress? What
do you worry about? Once you know the source of your stress is,
you can find ways to either reduce their likelihood and more effective
strategies for managing the stress.
be a perfectionist all of the time. This only adds to the
pressure you place on yourself which can translate into stress.
Sometimes it is better to compromise and not do something as well
as you would naturally like to.
good stress managers. Identify those that seem to remain
composed during times of pressure. Look at how they positively respond
to tough situations and how well they handle themselves. Model yourself
on such people.
more tolerant of others’ faults. Do not allow the wrong
doings of others to affect you. There is no point wasting your good
energy dwelling on such matters. Accept that no one is perfect including
others especially those less fortunate than yourself. Providing
such service not only benefits others, but also gives you an opportunity
to focus on matters other than your own. You may also learn that
you are actually better off than a lot of other people.
self help and self improvement books. These books are usually
written by world renowned trainers and professionals and contain
informative insights into many facets of life related to stress
and pressure management.
If you are stressed about an upcoming event that relies on you performing
well, the key is to be well organised and prepared. Create a plan
that will ensure your preparation is thorough and stick to that
a professional game of football, cricket, tennis, or some
other sport you love. Supporting your favourite team in an exciting
atmosphere along side thousands of other spectators is a good way
to take your mind off the stressful events that may have occurred
during the past week.
rather than reactive. Whether it be at work or at home, if
you proactively manage and attend to your tasks, and not procrastinate,
you will inevitably eliminate that feeling of being behind the eight
ball or out of control.
your circle of influence. Stress can be brought on due to
events and influences that are outside your control. By actively
working on those areas that you can control directly you will slowly
increase your circle of influence.
self help and self improvement web sites. Like books they
contain a lot of useful material related to stress and pressure
management. Unlike books, they also can contain multimedia content
that you can watch or listen to.
your situation. If your job is just causing you too much
stress and can not be dealt with, or if there are issues in your
relationship that can not be addressed it might be time to move
on. Do not be afraid to consider this option.
in a team sport. It is not only a good form of physical exercise,
but also requires that you communicate and work together with your
team mates. It also serves as a good social gathering opportunity
which can take your focus away from various stressful happenings
in your life.
Unnecessary stress can be
brought about because of lack of self confidence and self worth.
The next time you are faced with a challenge, ignore any negative
thought and opinions you may have. Replace
“No I Can’t” with “Yes I Can”.
life. Consider every day that you live to be a blessing,
not a curse. We are here on this earth to experience both the good
and bad, and everything in between. Enjoy it. Learn and grow from
sweat the small stuff. Focus on the big picture and deal
with the main issues. Do not waste your time and energy fussing
and stressing over minor concerns. They are usually trivial and
end up becoming non-issues in the long run.
a relaxed approach towards your work, your relationships,
your leisure, your life. Work with a sense of joy, appreciate your
relationships and enjoy your leisure time.
achievable goals. Goals focus your thoughts and actions on
areas that have a defined purpose and meaning. Realistic goals help
you to use your time both efficiently and effectively, and provide
a clear direction that can reduce your stress.
Use a stress
ball. By simply squeezing over and over, you tense the muscles
in your arms. After releasing, your muscles will become quite relaxed,
and the stress will slowly go away. Because stress balls are small
you can take one with you wherever you go.
a pet. Whether it is a dog, cat or a hamster, your pet gives
you an opportunity to show and share love and affection. Studies
have shown that pets help reduce blood pressure and stress. Pets
promote a healthier lifestyle and can even provide better social
support than humans.
yourself. It is very easy to forget about yourself while
you are attending to others’ needs. Take a break. Go to a
fancy restaurant, buy some nice clothes or take a spa. Do not overlook
the importance of doing something for you once in a while.
your inner strength. If you can gently push your boundaries
when the opportunity arises, slowly you will become mentally and
emotionally stronger and therefore better equipped with dealing
your life purpose. Your stress could be a sign that your
current way of life is not aligned with your purpose. Develop a
strong connection with your soul so that you can learn and understand
what your purpose in life is, why you are here.
on your day. Review the interactions you had with people
during the day. If you were not happy with the way you behaved or
responded to someone, relive the moment in your mind and imagine
responding or behaving in a more appropriate way.
Singing can be a beautiful and liberating form of stress relief.
Express yourself loudly or quietly, in public or just in the shower.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a musical bone in
your body. You don’t need to be on key, just enjoy yourself.
games. Regardless of how busy you are, playing card games
like Go Fish, or board games such as trivial Pursuit, can actually
relieve stress. Games that involve large groups like are Uno, Twister
or “Pictionary” are particularly good as it encourages
interaction with others.
yourself artistically. Any form of artistic self expression
such as painting, drawing or modelling can be a great form of stress
relief helping you process emotions built up over time and heal
a spiritual practice. A personal spiritual practice that
nurtures your soul, such as meditation, prayer or regular visits
to your place of worship, is a great approach towards enhancing
your emotional health and managing stress.
a tough skin. Learn to accept criticism and try to not take
it personally. Particularly in a competitive or work environment,
do not look at criticism as negative but rather as constructive
feedback that can possibly help you to improve yourself or your
ability to perform.
Speak in a positive
low stress language. Remove negative
and/or vulgar language from your vocabulary. There are many opportunities
and topics to speak positively about during the day such as the
weather, the news or even thoughts about life.
in the present. Don’t dwell on the past. Rather learn
from the mistakes you have made and the pain that you have experienced
in the past and move on.
decisions quickly. Accept the risk, stress and conflict that
come with making decisions. It is ok to change your mind but don't
make a habit out of reversing decisions. Try to make decisions that
produce change. Any decision is better than none.
yourself. When unpleasant thoughts enter your mind, thoughts
that can cause stress, think of somebody or something else that
cheers you up or relaxes you.
over analyse events. Stress can come about if you continue
to examine and relive a situation or event. By doing this you run
the risk of losing yourself in the detail and perspective of what
Take a hot
bath. Heat increases circulation of blood to the tissues,
including the muscles, which can help you relax.
or modify irrational beliefs. Your beliefs greatly influence
your perception on life. Beliefs such as “I am no good”
or “No one cares about me” can significantly contribute
to your stress.
for the opportunity in crisis. Consider the benefits and
rewards that you will reap when addressing a problem or challenge.
This positive approach will change your perception of the situation
and reduce your stress.
changes slowly. Self imposed changes can bring about stress.
Do not underestimate the significance of change. Therefore if you
make changes, have patience, pace yourself and change the easy things
quiet time on your own. You can take some time out at home
or at work, anywhere where you can get away from others and have
time to yourself. Use any relaxation technique you like or just
thinking about the matter stress you.
Develop your negotiation
skills. This will not only help you to resolve stressful
situations and conflicts, but also help you become more confident
and assertive. Such skills will assist in creating better personal
and professional relationships.
Join a social
group. Regular involvement and interaction within a social
group can be a helpful way of coping with stress. It gives you the
opportunity to talk about your problems and assist in putting things
worth it? Have you been drawn into something that simply
is not worth the stress? Ask why you are doing this. If it is not
worth the stress, then move on.