The modern way of life is inevitably full of stress, the grueling commute to work, the pressures of your workplace and the further stresses of family life; all of us deal with these issues in a different way – some more useful than others – but it is undeniable that is unavoidable.
The structure of adult life, and stress, in the modernized state, isn’t going to change anytime soon, but there are increasingly prominent and successful methods of managing your stress and even removing it completely.
Therefore if you’re struggling with stress in your daily life, so much so that it is beginning to have a negative impact on your health and mental state, it is time to take action. Stress management can teach you not only effective ways of dealing with stress but healthier ones as well, as opposed to the standard go-to methods of alcohol and cigarettes.
The first thing to do when attempting to deal with your issues with stress is to pinpoint the common causes of stress; something that is more complicated than it sounds.
It’s easy to forget your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to your stress levels. You may be quick to associate the pressing matters that constantly worry you with stress; work deadlines, bills, broken appliances, but maybe it’s your procrastination in avoiding the task at hand, rather than the actual job demands, that is causing the stress.
To identify the real causes of your stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:
- Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?
- Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?
- Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”)?
As you can see the causes of stress outlined above aren’t usually the situations themselves that cause your stress, rather it’s the way you conceive and interpret the issues that are causing your stress.
There are numerous short-term strategies for reducing the stress that is accepted within society but in actuality cause more damage in the long run. Examples of this include: smoking, drinking heavily, relying on drugs, binging on comfort food, zoning out for hours in front of the TV, avoiding family and friends and taking out your stress on others.
There are much more effective long term ways of dealing with stress that is not only good for your stress levels but is also good for your health.
The healthiest way is physical exercise. Numerous studies have proven the massive benefits that as little as half an hour of exercise can have on your body and mind. Just about any form of physical activity can help relieve stress and burn away anger, tension, and frustration. Exercise releases endorphins that boost your mood and make you feel good, and it can also serve as a valuable distraction to your daily worries.
No one’s expecting you to run a marathon or become a world class climber; instead, just take your dog for a walk, walk instead of drive to the store, join a sports team or, pair up with a friend and go for a run. Once you’ve started to exercise, try your hardest to work it into your daily routine, not only that try and make that precious half an hour a day something you look forward to, a break from life, a time to clear your mind.
If you already exercise to some degree, or would prefer to pursue another method for stress reduction, the quickest, easiest and most efficient way is social engagement. Although being social doesn’t carry with it the health benefits that engaging in physical activity does, there is nothing more calming to your nervous system than communicating with another human being who makes you feel safe and understood. Feeling safe, or more accurately making your nervous system think it is safe, results from the nonverbal cues that you hear, see and feel while engaging in a friendly conversation with someone you trust.
When your body feels safe and is thus relaxed hormones that reduce stress are released; their calming effects can last longer than the conversation and even make you less likely to become stressed upon encountering a difficult situation.
On the flip side of being social active is becoming lonely and isolated, which increases your vulnerability to stress.
Of course, it’s not always realistic to have a buddy close by to lean on when you feel overwhelmed by stress, but by building and maintaining a network of close friends you can improve your resiliency to life’s stressors. Also, it is well known that regular sexual activity does wonder for reducing your stress levels.
A final recommendation that can be made for successfully managing your stress levels is: if you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to change it. Often this involves altering the way you communicate, engage and interpret a situation that occurs in your daily life.
If a situation has the potential to become stressful, be more assertive and communicative of your concerns in a polite and explanatory way to your peers. It only takes a minute to ask a neighbor or a friend to keep the noise down when you’re trying to concentrate on something. To go along with this, be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior to respect your wishes, be ready to do something for them in return; always find the middle ground.
You cannot avoid stress in life, but you can make conscious efforts to reduce its presence in your daily life, which can have noticeable benefits for all factors of your person. Whether it’s making time to see that friend you haven’t seen in too long or simply walking the dog, you must ensure that you look after yourself as work through the responsibilities of life. Or, alternatively, make a mental effort to engage with potential stress-inducing situations in a more balanced and appropriate manner.