Stress is one of the key barriers inour quest for living a healthy life. Stress management is all about taking charge: of your lifestyle, thoughts, emotions, and the way you deal with problems. Stand up for yourself in a polite way to fight with your brain (no actually trick your brain). Learn and practice relaxation techniques.
Stress is, well, … stressful! But seriously, when we are in the thick of, when stress is really mounting, we can become irritable, get upsetstomachs, become anxious, have depleted concentration, feel quiet moody, and even raise our blood pressure and have disturbed sleep. And youwouldn’t be alone; one in 4 Australian report having moderate to severelevels of stress.
Having said that, a degree of stress is helpful for our evolution.Stress keeps us sharp, gets us off the couch to go for a walk ratherthan staying home watching TV. So how can we manage stress levels andmaintain a good degree of stress?
Recommended article: 10 Ways To Reduce Stress or Depression
Managing stress is about taking stock of our body, mind and social connection.
Physically, we need to allow our bodies to do what they’re designedto do: self regulate, evolve and thrive. So how do you look after yourbody? Here are our tips:
Self awareness: it’s beneficial to identify when the body is functioning well and what enabled this to happen so you can emulate it. It’s alsoimportant to listen to your body for early warning signs that tell youwhen the pressure is building. Some warning signs include tensing thejaw, grinding teeth, getting repeat headaches, being quick to anger orbecoming easily irritable.
Self management: what about scheduling some ‘bodytime’ in your calendar? Things like mindfulness practice, yoga, regular exercise, good sleep,good nutrition, and fun and enjoyable activities like riding, walking or gardening. Plan something every day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes.
We know that people who manage stress well tend to have good anchors(personal beliefs and clear values, routines, and meaningful things orplaces) that support them to cope with stress. We also know that theytend to interpret events in a constructive and proactive way, withpragmatic optimism.
Identify your stress triggers.
Most of us have an idea about whatraises our stress level. Be it particular situations or negativeself-talk (yes we all have negative self talk). We often allow fear torise if we perceive a situation as a threat to our identity, ourautonomy or belongingness. Some of the tips we teach at Holistic is howto turn perceptions of difficulties into challenges. For example:turning the “I won’t fit in”to “everyone started as an outsider beforethey felt they belonged”, or from “I can’t do it” to “what else workedbefore and what could I do now?.
When we’re stressed, we sometimes say things to ourselves that arequite unhelpful, and tend to repeat them. So managing stress is oftenabout about internal thought management and turning difficulties intochallenges.
Healthy social connections
We know that one of the most effective managers of stress is care,human connection and social bonding. When we feel cared for and care for others the body release a neurotransmitter that moderates the levels of the stress chemical (including adrenaline or the ‘fight or flight’chemical, norepinephrine, and the more slowly-released cortisol). Solook at ways to grow your current social support network (friends,family or community) who you can lean on for support, care, love andguidance, and visa versa. And remember, social media doesn’t always feel very ‘social’, so opt for the face to face interactions whereverpossible. Spending time with family and friends who you find upliftingcan really help. Rather than bottling up your feelings, share yourthoughts and feelings with others when you can.
Establishing routines for the physical, mental and social health willhelp you take the bad stress out of life and keep the stress at a goodhealthy level. So find out what the right “zone” is for your stress andaim for that!
When to seek professional help?
If you find that high levels of stress are continuing for a longperiod of time, or are interfering with you enjoying a healthy life,please seek professional help. There are many Psychology who are experts in mental and emotional health and can help you identify behaviors andsituations that are contributing to high stress, and help you to makechanges to the things that are within your control.