What is stress management?

Stress management is a wide range of techniques and psychotherapies aimed at controlling your stress level, usually to improve your everyday functioning.

Stress is known to arise when perceived external demands outweigh resources, or an individual’s perceived ability to meet those demands. There are many coping strategies and skills to help individuals assist them to step back from challenging situations and take control of the controllable. These skills can be applied in relation to everyday stressors in the workplace and difficult personal issues- such as dealing with unforeseen events like grief or loss.

Why is stress management important?

The ability to manage stress effectively is indeed a crucial skill for maintaining a healthy and balanced life. Stress is a natural response to various challenges and demands in our lives, but when it becomes chronic or overwhelming, it can have a negative impact on various aspects of our wellbeing.

Continued stress in our lives can affect us in many ways. Taking steps to reduce stress can lead to significant improvement in our overall health and wellbeing.

Here are five reasons why stress management is important:

1. Health

Stress can negatively impact your physical health, contributing to conditions like ulcers, diabetes, heart disease, and more. Stress can also affect the musculoskeletal and reproductive systems. By managing stress, you can reduce the risk of these health issues and improve your overall wellbeing.

2. Work

Stress at work is common, but chronic stress can harm productivity, advancement opportunities, and work relationships. “Everyone experiences stress to some degree. The way we respond to stress, however, makes a big difference to our overall wellbeing.” When an individual has the tools and skills to manage their stress, this can help them perform better at work, interact more positively with colleagues, and enhance their career prospects.

3. Parenting

At times, parenting can be challenging, and managing stress can make you a more patient and effective parent. Teaching your children how to handle stress through your own stress reduction techniques can contribute to a healthier family dynamic.

4. Relationships

Stress can increase and contribute to strain on relationships by causing communication breakdowns, arguments, and emotional distance. When an individual is equipped with the skills to reduce stress, this enables them to approach interaction with loved ones more positively and this in turn contributes to a more fulfilling and healthier relationship.

5. Overall Happiness

Chronic stress can lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Incorporating stress management into your life can increase happiness, and self-care and improve wellbeing and overall mental health positivity.

Stress is inevitable and sometimes avoidable as part of modern life. Learning effective coping strategies and stress management skills can help individuals’ negative challenges and live a more fulfilling and balanced life. In some circumstances, a proactive step toward better stress management can be seeking support, whether through personal strategies or professional guidance.

How to control stress?

“The first step toward reducing stress is learning what your triggers are. “If you know what pushes your buttons, then avoid it. But there are stresses we have to accept, so we must change our reactions to them,” explains Dr. Ann Webster.”

Here are some useful tips for managing daily stressors:

1. A good sleep routine

Aim to get in the habit of waking up and falling asleep at the same time every day. Limit technology usage before bed because the blue light from your screens affects the hormones that help regulate your circadian rhythm (your ‘internal clock’).

2. Eat regularly and healthy

Follow the World Health Organization recommended guidelines or talk to a nutritionist about a healthy diet that suits your lifestyle.

3. Exercise daily

The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise throughout the week.

4. Practice mindfulness

A great way to help us remain focused on the present moment and be non-judgmental towards our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

5. Engage in a daily self-care routine

Do one small thing every day as self-care and this will help you manage difficult emotions that arise throughout the day.

If you experience an intense moment of anxiety such as a panic attack, here are some tips to manage your distress in the moment:

  • Breathe deeply – inhale through your nose for 4 seconds then exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. Do this for 5 minutes and it will slow down your heart rate and reduce other symptoms of anxiety.
  • Change your body temperature – run your face under the cold tap or plunge your face in an ice bath to kickstart your ‘dive reflex’ which will regulate your internal systems.
  • Muscle relaxation – flex and tense muscle groups in your body 3 times each from your feet all the way up to your face.

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