As we’ve said before, stress is a part of life. There’s no getting away from it. In fact, some stress is good stress. You may not believe that, but sometimes stress can motivate us to do things we may not normally do in a relaxed state. Stress can make us brave enough to go forward when normally we might hesitate.
We have to be resilient in order to effectively cope with stress and help it enhance our life instead of control it. How do you get strong and resilient? By learning how to take control of your stress and make it work FOR you instead of AGAINST you.
Recognizing stress symptoms can be a positive influence in that we’re compelled to take action – and the sooner the better. It’s not always easy to discern why you have the stress in each situation but some of the more common events that trigger those emotions are the death of a loved one, the birth of a child, a job promotion, or a new relationship. We experience stress as we readjust our lives. Your body is asking for your help when you feel these stress symptoms.
We’re going to give you many suggestions in this chapter. Not all of them will work for you, but we’re willing to bet that some of them will.
There are three major approaches to manage stress. The first is the action-oriented approach. In this method, the problems that cause stress are identified and necessary changes are made for a stress free life.
The next approach is emotionally oriented and in it, the person overcomes stress by giving a different color to the experience that caused stress. The situation, which causes stress, is seen humorously or from a different angle.
I especially advocate this approach to stress management. Sometimes if you don’t laugh at a situation, you’ll cry – uncontrollably. That’s no solution. So learn to see the humor instead of the doom.
The third way is acceptance-oriented approach. This approach focuses on surviving the stress caused due to some problem in the past.
The first stress management tip is to understand the root cause of your stress. No one understands your problem better than you do. A few minutes spend to recognize your true feelings can completely change the situation.
During this process, identify what triggered the stress. If someone close to your heart is nearby share it with the person. If you are overstressed and feel you are going to collapse, take a deep breath and count till ten. This pumps extra oxygen into your system and rejuvenates the entire body.
When under severe stress meditate for a moment and pull out of the current situation for a little while. Stand up from your current position and walk. Stretch yourself. Soon you will find that the stress has lessened.
This is because you have relaxed now and relaxation is the best medicine for stress. Smiling is yet another way of stress management. If you are at the work place, just stand up and smile at your colleague in the far corner. You will see a change in your mood. Learn some simple yoga or mediation techniques.
You can also invent your own stress management tips. The basic idea is to identify the cause of stress and to pull out from it for a moment and then deal with it. Taking a short walk and looking at objects in nature is another stress reliever. Drinking a glass of water or playing small games are simple stress management techniques. The whole idea is change the focus of attention and when you return to the problem, it does not look as monstrous as you felt before.
Here are five quick steps you can take toward relieving stress:
- 1. Don’t just sit there. Move! According to many psychologists, motion creates emotion. You might notice that when you are idle, it’s easier to become depressed. Your heart rate slows down, less oxygen travels to your brain, and you are slumped somewhere in a chair blocking air from reaching your lungs.
I challenge you right now, regardless of how you are feeling, to get up and walk around at a fast tempo. Maybe you might want to go to an empty room and jump up and down a little bit. It may sound silly but the results speak for themselves. Try it now for a few minutes. It works like magic.
Exercise can be a great stress buster. People with anxiety disorders might worry that aerobic exercise could bring on a panic attack. After all, when you exercise, your heart rate goes up, you begin to sweat, and your breathing becomes heavier.
Don’t panic – it’s not an attack! Tell yourself this over and over while you’re exercising. Realize that there’s a big difference between the physical side of exercise and what happens when you exercise.
- 2. Smell the roses. How do you smell the roses? How about investing some money to go on that one trip you’ve been dreaming about? Visit a country with lots of exotic places to jolt your imagination and spur your creativity. You need to detach from your daily activities and venture a little bit.
- 3. Help others cope with their problems. It is very therapeutic when you engross yourself in helping others. You will be surprised how many people’s problems are worse than those you may be facing. You can offer others assistance in countless ways. Don’t curl up in your bed and let depression and stress take hold of you.
Get out and help somebody. But be careful. Don’t get caught up in other people’s problems in an attempt to forget about your own.
I am constantly being called by friends and family when they want to vent or get advice. I joke and tell them “Don’t call the ‘crazy’ person for advice!” But there are times that I find myself worrying about the ones who call me and I get caught up in what they’re going through. This just gives me more stress than I already have and I find that I have to step away and re-assess myself and my priorities.
I’m now to the point where I can tell them that I just can’t deal with it right now and to call back later. Sometimes, they get upset, but more often than not, they understand. But I’ve learned not to get too upset about their reactions. If it won’t matter in a week, it should matter right now.
- 4. Laugh a little. By now you’ve heard that laughter is a good internal medicine. It relieves tension and loosens the muscles. It causes blood to flow to the heart and brain. More importantly, laughter releases a chemical that rids the body of pains.
Every day, researchers discover new benefits of laughter. Let me ask you this question: “Can you use a good dose of belly-shaking laughter every now and then?” Of course you can. What you are waiting for? Go a comedy club or rent some funny movies.
- 5. Wear your knees out. If there were one sustainable remedy I could offer you when the going gets tough, it would be prayer. Many people, depending on their faith, might call it meditation. It doesn’t matter to me what you call it, as long as you have a place to run to.
There you have a few quick fixes when you’re feeling stressed. Want more? No problem!