How often do we find ourselves in stressful situations and how rarely we think of how to manage our stress? The Stress in America survey has found that money and work are the top two sources of significant stress (67% and 65% in 2015, respectively). The survey also reveals that family responsibilities are the third most common stress factor (54%), followed by personal health concerns (51%), health problems affecting the family (50%) and the economy (50%).
Stress is a psychological and physical reaction to change. It can be caused by internal or external stressors. For example, if you fear you won’t meet the deadline – it’s an internal stressor, but if you are stressed due to the noise that is coming from your neighbour’s apartment – it is an external stressor. Because of the ever-increasing demands of life stress occurs in all arias of our lives at work, home and even during holidays.
When you experience stress, your brain releases adrenaline and cortisol. These stress hormones help your body to prepare itself for danger. Adrenaline can have some positive effect and motivate us, but more often you get sweaty hands, your heart starts beating faster, and your mouth becomes dry. Your body is ready to protect you from threat. This process is also called “fight-or-flight” response.
Once your danger disappears, your body should go back to a normal relaxed state. “Should” as the constant stress of modern life rarely shuts your alarm system completely off. That’s why it’s important to learn some stress management techniques that will offer you a palette of tools to reset your alarm system. Recurring, high levels of stress can cause serious physical or mental health problems, can impact your relationship or quality of life. See what you can do to manage your stress better:
Share your stress with others.
It does not mean to stress all the people around you, but sometimes sharing your story with your co-worker or partner might give you a different perspective of a situation you found yourself in and lower your stress level.
Try not to mix stress from different life arias.
For example if your partner stresses you at home and you project your negative emotions on your colleagues at work it might have a negative impact on your relationship with them too and vice-versa. Try to reach a healthy balance between your work and private life.
Forget about perfectionism.
Doing things right does not mean that you have to exceed others’ expectations in every area of your life. Don’t be afraid to delegate and remember that in 95% of cases 95% is enough.
Give yourself a break.
When you try to solve a problem for the umpteenth time and it does not work, leave your desk. Have a tea or a walk. Physical movement can help you regain your balance. It will allow you to distance yourself from your task and look at it with a fresh and open mind.
Don’t over-commit yourself.
Judge objectively the amount of time you need to spend on a certain task. Many people tend to commit to things they are simply not able to deliver without making sacrifices, only because they believe no one else will do it as good as they can or they are afraid to say “no”. If you are unsure about your duties and responsibilities, ask your boss for a job description.
Overcome your fear of failure.
Many people don’t even try to make their dreams come true because they are afraid of failure, and then they are stressed as they have a feeling they didn’t push themselves enough. It’s a vicious circle. So how do we stop fearing? The best trick is just accepting that we all fear change and follow your goal regardless fear. Even the most successful people failed in their lives. We need to re-educate the society that failure is an valuable experience that we gain. So why not to start with yourself?
Don’t try to control things that you have no impact on.
Things like behaviour of other people are uncontrollable. So instead of focusing on them, concentrate on things you can influence, such as your reaction to a problem.
Improve the quality of your sleep.
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time, even during weekends. Remember, that your goal is to sleep 8 hours a night.
Our mental hygiene is as important as our physical hygiene. Give yourself a doses of endorphins – nothing boost them as quickly as physical exercises.