- Mental Health
All About Stress Management and Combatting Stress
Stress is an important part of life. It is something that gets us motivated to act by changing priorities in our lifes. While a small amount of stress may be fine, too much stress can have adverse psychological impacts as well as harmful effects on health. It is important to understand the stresses in our lives and how to best manage them.
Occasional occurrences of stress is fine, it's when the stress grows and grows uncontrollably that it becomes a problem. In the body, stress causes the adrenal glands to release epinephrine which acts on our sympathetic nervous system priming us into a "fight or flight" response by increasing blood flow to the peripheries, increasing cardiac output and increasing muscular contractility. This may be fine in certain circumstances, but not in the workings of everyday life. Certain things may trigger a response and when you experience enough regular stressful situations, oftentimes, you will be more sensitive to triggers to stress.
Write it Down
First, it is important to outline what causes stress in your life. Will it be from work, familial relationships, other social relationships, life pressures? Identify these and write them down on paper. Writing them down is an important first step in gaining control over stress. When it is written down, it becomes solidified as something you can concretely see, or concretely represent by having it on paper. You can then use this list as a type of map of where you need to start fixing things in your life. Set this as a goal that you want to accomplish and try to alleviate whatever it is on that list that is causing you stress.
Diet and Exercise
As much as possible, try to eat right and work-out regularly. It is important to keep your body in tip-top shape because if you are healthier, you are more resistant to stress. Furthermore, regular exercise will cause your body to release endorphins which are useful in combatting stress. As well, regular exercise will help you sleep better each night which allows you to be more resistant to the effects of stress.
Every now and again, you should reward yourself by having some alone time to yourself. You can use this time to pursue personal hobbies or activities that make you happy. Often, people's lives are so busy that they have time to meet the demands of everyone else, but they neglect themselves and their own personal needs. Sometimes, other people can take priority in your life, but other times you matter just as much. You will need to strike a good balance between selflessness and self-interest.
Regular meditation is a great stress reliever. When you get a chance to be alone, go to a quiet room where you will not be disturbed. Then sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Imagine a ball of energy, a metronome pendulum, or some other object moving back and forth. Keep your eyes closed and try to clear your mind of all thoughts and focus only on that object that keeps moving back and forth over and over in your mind. Eventually, you will reach a place within your mind where you feel that you are somewhat sleepy, but awake. Try to stay in this meditative state as long as you can without worry or fear. It is a good idea to meditate in this way for about 20-30 minutes once a day, each day.
Relax and listen to your favorite music
Music is also very useful for the management of stress. Select your favorite tunes and listen to them on a set of headphones so that you can block out some of the ambient noise. Try to really listen to the music and focus all your attention on the melody or the lyrics and let yourself become immersed in the music. Sometimes, even listening to older music from your teen years can be soothing while generating a nostalgic feel. If you are looking for some other music, you may be interested in listening to music from the Baroque era. It has been known to be soothing and relaxing. You may also wish to listen to instrumental pieces with recordings of rain storms playing in the background.
Free yourself from addictions
Do you have any addictive behaviors? Try to identify things that you are addicted to in your life. Whether it may be coffee, other caffeinated products, sugary foods, video games, etc. You should then make every effort to free yourself from any addicting behavior by telling yourself that you are free and that you are strong and will resist addiction. You can begin by reducing the amount of addicting substance that you consume, or the amount of time that you spend pursuing an addicting behavior. Reduce the frequency by which you engage in this behavior and keep track of when you give in on a calendar. Try to occupy your time with other productive tasks and put your energy into something that will improve your life.
If you find that the stress in your life is too much to bear, it may be a good time to seek help. At first, you may wish to confide in a supportive friend who you can trust or a family member. But, if the stresses are too much to cope with, it may be best to consult a professional counsellor or social worker.