‘I am so stressed’ – when was the last time you whispered this phrase to yourself? We hear a lot about stress and its consequences. So how about preventing the feeling of stress instead? Being stress-proof won’t happen overnight, but we can introduce some easy stress management techniques in our lifestyle to manage the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Stress Management? Why should I bother?
Being exposed to high levels of stress means putting your well-being at risk. Stress can effect your emotional, mental as well as physical health. Stressed people have lower ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life.
Effective stress management can improve your life’s quality, thus make you happier, healthier, and more productive. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, hobbies and fun, and building strength to keep up with your daily challenges, even while under huge pressure. The following stress management techniques can help you achieve this goal. However, remember that each of us is different, so it’s important to experiment and find out what works best for you.
Stress Management at a Glance
Step 1 – Identify the source of stress in your life
Analyse your current life situation and ask yourself what causes your stress, e.g. Do you feel overwhelmed with the amount of work you need to do at work? Does your financial situation stress you? Is it too much going on at home, in your relationship or with your kids?
Step 2 – Learn the 4 A’s Technique
Once you identify the source of stress, you can use the 4A’s technique of stress management to change the situation(Avoid, Alter) and change your reaction(Adapt, Accept).
AVOIDE. Not all stress is bad, so don’t avoid every stressful situation that occurs since that can be unhealthy and also increase anxiety. Be aware of your surroundings and current situation and try to change it in order to have less stress.
Say ‘No’. Stop committing to more than you can take. Say “no” to people who stress you out.
Manage your tasks. Group your tasks for a day in categories: A – important, B – less important, C – not truly necessary. Analyse your ‘to do’ list and prioritise. You can drop the tasks that are not important.
ALTER. If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it.
Create a balanced schedule. Work hard and work harder is a recipe for burnout. Create a balance between work and family life.
Communicate your feelings openly. If a situation or someone is bothering you, learn to be assertive and express your concerns in an open and respectful way. Remember you can communicate anything it’s just the matter of how you formulate it.
ADAPT. Sometimes you cannot change the stressor, but you can change yourself. Try to adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
Adjust your standards – do you need to iron your socks and underwear? Will something happen if you won’t by the newest designer bag that you don’t have actually money for? Redefine success and stop striving for perfection.
Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself: will it matter in a month, year, five years? If no, than there is no need to put pressure on yourself and feel overwhelmed.
ACCEPT. Some sources of stress you simply cannot avoid. Learn how to accept the things you can’t change.
Let go – Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. If someone doesn’t want to stop eating fatty, modified food, even if you told him many times it ruins their health, don’t bother convincing them all over again on cost of your own health. The behaviour of other people is often out of your control.
Forgive – let go of anger and resentments. People make mistakes in life. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on. It can be hard, but it’s worth it.
Step 3 – Take care of yourself
Move that body – you don’t have to go to the gym. Play some music and dance at home, take your dog or partner for a walk, cycle around the park, choose stairs instead of elevator. Movement is a great stress-relief tool (my favourite one). Exercising regularly can keep your stress level low and your body in shape.
Watch out what you take in – A healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables helps maintain the immune system at times of stress. A poor diet will lead to health problems and additional stress. When stressed reduce intake of alcohol, drugs, and caffeine: These substances will not help prevent stress, and they can make it worse.
If you are interested in this topic, here you can find some further readings: