Each year, month, and maybe each day bring on a new set of situations that need to be handled. How you handle them may differ based on the impact of the situation. Your stress level may range from not bothersome to extremely bothersome. It’s important to identify triggers for stress in your life to create awareness and build a plan for management.
Stress can come from significant life events or aspects of daily living. Some examples might be from employment, financial situations, conflicts, loneliness, illness, and travel, just to name a few. For those you encounter more frequently it’s important to consider do you have control over the situation or not and if it’s important or not to you. For those that are not important to you, it’s best to let them go and not waste your energy and effort on them. Those that are important, and you have some or all control over, take time to continually work on solutions to help find balance, and improve your mood. Finally, those that are important, but you don’t have control over, practice stress management techniques and when possible limit and/or avoid.
The first step in management is tracking your stress. Everyone handles stress differently but knowing how your body handles it will help you identify when it’s happening. You might want to keep a journal to write down when it happens, your level of stress, what you were doing when it happened, and what you were thinking. This will create awareness for you, and for frequent stressful situations to help identify any patterns. Second, identify where the stress is coming from. What actions can you put in place to minimize or eliminate that stress? Third, don’t wait for stress to happen to manage it, practice techniques daily. Be in the moment, aware of your thoughts and feelings. Have a list to refer to for what you can do when you encounter stress. Can you take a break from your work, call a friend, read a book, or take part in a hobby?
Fourth, physical activity is the most effective way to manage stress. It can help improve your sleep, release muscle tension, and boost your self-esteem. Make sure to keep with the level of intensity that is best for you to eliminate additional stress to your body. Fifth, the quickest way to manage stress is to practice deep breathing. Sit in a place that is free of distractions, uncross your legs, rest your hands in your lap, and put your feet on the floor. Close your eyes and be aware of how you inhale and exhale. Next, take slow and deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then, hold your breath for 5 seconds after you inhale and then the same when you exhale. After a few moments breathe naturally, then say “relax” aloud or silently after each exhale. Repeat this practice for 1 to 5 minutes.
Finally, spend time doing activities you enjoy. Overall, this is going to make your mood happier, you will be more relaxed and have a more positive outlook. Keep in mind what really matters in your life and focus your efforts on it. Aim for other activities than eating when stressed. Since our choices tend not to be healthy during those times. When needed make sure to get the social support you need to help manage stress and find the balance you need for a healthier life.