Stress for me is encountered when the boundaries within a certain area are being pushed. Just as the fibers on a rope become stressed when tension is applied, the same happens within our thinking and physiology. The more pressure there is, the more tension there is; the greater will be the chances of a catastrophic failure.
According to Jamie Marich, Ph.D., LPCC-S, LICDC-CS, RMT, “Stress is anything life brings our way that has the potential to upset our balance.”
When the stress levels get beyond being manageable, we have to take up ways to reduce them. We might not be able to control the stressors, but we can surely minimize the harm it does to our mind and body.
The signals of stress
- Increased heart beat
- Abnormally high or low blood pressure
- Sweating or heat flush
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability and hypersensitivity.
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Self Doubt
- Fear of failure.
- Low mood
Stress is nothing more than a behavioral state. We all have a “built in” stress response. You can get stress because of business. According to Lisa Bahar, LMFT, LPCC, “When an individual is in a job that lacks growth and is fostering complacency, there is a [sense of] a lack of worth.” Managing stress is just a matter of working out a system that best suits you, allowing you to utilize it when required.
The 8 strategies to manage stress
- Meditate — A few minutes of meditation everyday reduces stress and anxiety. Choose any time suitable for you. Sit up straight and focus your attention in looking or reciting a particular thing. Take deep breaths and do not let any negative thoughts in. Keep yourself away from any gadgets (phone,laptop, computer, television, etc.) and allow your mind to be free from any distraction while you meditate. You can see the difference after each session.
Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC says “Mindfulness meditation practices are effective interventions, and sometimes for mild to moderate conditions—depression and anxiety—super-effective as front lines.”
- Watch or learn something that triggers positive emotions — This can be looking back at any media footage that produces “positive emotions”; it maybe pictures of your children or family, or even YouTube clips of amazing events. Whatever you choose, do this at least once during the day.
- Communicate — Talk out or write down your problems. Talking about problems helps a lot in reducing stress and allow us to see the different perspectives from which we can see a situation. Call a friend or talk to anyone you trust. A reassuring voice and a friendly conversation is all that is needed to let you forget all problems.
- Eat right — Stress levels are closely related with the diet we follow. When we are stressed, we usually forget about the calories and sugar. People turn to having snacks or ice creams and other foods that they find comforting. Having a healthy diet in stressful time not only keeps us healthy, but it also lets us concentrate on our own well being.
- Tune in to your body — There are many ways to strengthen our physical system. Exercise does not only mean lifting weights in gym. A brisk walking or jogging schedule, stretching, swimming, cycling, dancing or sports — any physical activity can help in reducing stress. It normalizes the body functions and improves the mood almost instantly.
- Find your zone — Creating your zone is highly personal and something that is tailored according to your emotions. It may contain music, friends or anyone else, but whichever way you achieve it, it is a mental escapism that allows your thoughts to wander and/or your body to be at rest.
- Be thankful — It is amazing how a simple “thank you” can change the dynamics of those around you or the perceptions others have about you. The act of thanking others or of showing gratitude is one that is less demonstrated in the modern society. Sure, it doesn’t rub off on everyone, but the more you practice doing it, the more you will experience it in return. Watch how quickly your emotions change as you thank others.
- Replace the negative thoughts — It is not easy to think about rosy things when we are in a harsh time. But our ultimate goal is to wipe out the negativity that causes stress. Practice replacing each negative thought with “three” positive ones.
Only 10% of our happiness is the result of your outside world and 90% of your happiness is the result of our internal world.
So “choose” to make the changes that make you happy. Be in harmony with yourself. As Lord Buddha has said:
“ The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”