There’s no way to avoid it, we all get stressed. Some stress can be good, and it can help motivate us to get things done. Even events that are highly stressful like getting a serious illness or losing your job can be a natural part of life. But when stress starts to make us feel down or anxious for more than several weeks or if it starts to keep us from doing things we love, it might be time to start thinking about stress management.
The Importance of Stress Management
Our brains come with an alarm system that helps protect us. When we feel threatened it signals our bodies to increase our heart rate and blood pressure and to go into “fight-or-flight” mode, meaning we will either try to leave a stressful situation, or start to defend ourselves. Once this threat is gone, our bodies are meant to go back into a relaxed state, but because of technology and our busy schedules, our body’s alarm system has a harder and harder time shutting off.
When your body is on high alert all the time, it can lead to a condition called chronic stress, which can lead to serious health problems. Stress management can help your mind and body become more able to combat stress, and it can help you learn to reset.
Signs of Stress
Stress can be hard to identify, so how can you tell if you’re stressed? Are you:
- Tired all the time
- Having general aches and pains
- Losing your temper easily
- Having trouble sitting still
- Getting headaches
- Having trouble sleeping
- Having trouble eating or having trouble stopping eating
- Getting upset stomachs
- Crying for no reason
- Feeling lonely
Over a long period of time, these symptoms will start to affect your life. They might interfere with your job or relationships and your overall quality of life. It’s important to learn how to manage stress to stay healthy and well.
When first learning how to manage stress, it’s important to learn what your triggers are. What makes you feel tense or angry, worried or irritable? Some stressors can be easy to identify such as financial problems, or work pressures. But some are harder to pinpoint. Waiting in a long line or being stuck in traffic can cause you stress. Even happy life events such as getting married or buying a house can be very stressful.
Once you have identified your triggers, you can start thinking about how you can deal with them. Some people benefit from:
- Deep breathing
- Being in nature
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting enough sleep
- Spending less time in front of a screen
Another useful tool in stress management is the 4 A’s Method. The 4 A’s are:
- Avoid. Try to avoid a lot of stress. Plan ahead and take control of your surroundings.
- If you know there will be a lot of traffic, try to leave earlier for work.
- Learn to say no. If you have a lot of responsibilities or demands on your time, try to turn down things you truly don’t have time for in order to make more time for yourself.
- Avoid people who bother you. If someone in your life is causing you stress, do your best to put physical distance between you.
- Alter. Make a list of the stressors in your life and attempt to make changes for the better.
- You can respectfully ask someone to change their behavior and be willing to do the same to avoid creating larger problems.
- Communicate your feelings openly.
- Try to manage your time better by grouping tasks that are similar.
- Create boundaries for yourself and state limits ahead of time, such as, “I’ve only got five minutes to talk.”
- Accept. Sometimes we have to learn to accept things the way they are.
- Talk to someone about how you’re feeling. You may not be able to change a situation, but that doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t valid.
- Practice forgiveness. It may be hard, but you will be able to free yourself of negative energy.
- Try practicing positive self-talk. Negative thoughts can escalate when you’re stressed. Practice being positive
- Learn from your mistakes. You can’t change what has happened in the past, but you can learn from it for the future.
- Adapt. Learn how to manage your expectations or standards.
- Sometimes we need to adjust our standards to stop striving for perfection. If we redefine success, we may live with less guilt and frustration.
- Try stopping gloomy thoughts in their tracks or reframing them to look at them from a new perspective.
- Adopt a mantra such as, “I can do this,” and repeat it to yourself during tough situations.
- Try to think about all of the things that make you happy in your life and to look at the big picture. Most stressful situations won’t matter in a few years. This will make things seem less overwhelming.
Don’t feel like you have to fight stress alone. Jai Medical Systems offers monthly free classes for members that focus on general health like stress management and healthy dieting. If you would like to find out more check our Members News & Notices.