Chronic stress is an unavoidable aspect of existence, but when it becomes persistent and starts to disrupt our daily routines, it can adversely affect our physical and mental well-being. This article aims to offer practical advice and stress management techniques, providing you with ways on how to reduce stress and achieve stress relief, helping you lead a more balanced and healthier lifestyle.
Understanding stress is crucial so that we can learn how to manage it effectively. I was inspired to write this blog because numerous leader clients of mine were seeking effective stress management skills, as they were experiencing significant levels of stress. Stress is a natural reaction of our body and mind to a perceived threat or challenging situation, and can sometimes serve as a motivator, encouraging us to adapt and overcome obstacles. However, when stress becomes overwhelming or continuous, it can have harmful effects on our health and well-being. Mastering stress coping skills is an essential ability, and as a coach and individual, I understand that stress management is a critical skill that should be developed as soon and as early as possible. It is vital because chronic stress hinders our capacity to be creative, happy, content, and productive, and it can damage relationships by compromising our ability to have peak experiences with others and ourselves.
There are two types of threats that cause us stress: physical and psychological. In the modern world, we are more frequently confronted with psychological threats or trauma rather than physical ones. However, the recent pandemic posed both physical and mental challenges, leading to societal trauma. Mo Gawdat who was a top executive for Google and authored "Solve for Happy" and "Unstressable" points out that three situations can induce extreme stress: the constant anticipation of a threat, trauma, and burnout. Reflecting on your own coping strategies for stress—whether they contribute to stress management or exacerbate your stress symptoms—and consider how you handle change for better stress relief.
Understanding You and Your Coping Mechanisms
How has stress affected you? Why do you think it is sensible for you to engage in stress relief activities? What is your emotional intelligence? How aware are you of your stresses or stressors? How are you managing stress with emotional intelligence? How do you perceive, understand, and manage your emotions? How do you cope with stress, currently? How do you handle stress that are expected or unexpected? Where do you generally feel stressed in your body? Do have shaky hands or sweaty palms when you feel stressed? Could improving your emotional regulation skills help you respond to stress more effectively?
How many micro stressors can you identify? What are your self-care and stress relieving routines? What is your sleep pattern like? How could ensuring you get enough quality sleep help your body and mind better cope with chronic stress symptoms? How do you view yourself and your abilities during high stress situations? What does improving your self-care mean for you?
Definition of Stress
Defined by Webster Dictionary
Pressure or tension exerted on a material object.
A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
As defined by Mo Gawdat, 'Stress in humans is equal to the intensity of the pressure or challenges we face divided by our resources and abilities to manage stress.' And he posits that stress is present in both objects and humans. However, in objects, stress is not solely related to the force or pressure exerted upon them, and when it comes to humans, managing stress is key.
The Stress Equation
The force applied to an object is divided by the square area of the cross-section bearing that force. Similarly, in humans, stress management involves understanding that stress is equal to the intensity of the pressure or challenges we face, divided by our resources, skills, and abilities to manage it.
Mo Gawdat, a distinguished author and thought leader, offers a mathematical approach to stress management strategies. He suggests that one can mitigate their stress by anticipating stressors and implementing lifestyle changes that reduce exposure to these stressors, such as practicing sleep hygiene by going to bed earlier and setting a gentle alarm clock, as well as avoiding checking emails first thing in the morning. Additionally, incorporating meditation stress relief techniques into one's routine can further enhance managing stress, which are part of his broader teachings in his book, which delves deeper into this concept.
Practical Tips for Stress Management
Identify the Sources of Stress: The first step in stress management is identifying the sources of stress in your life. This could be work-related pressures, personal issues, health problems, or even daily hassles like traffic. Keeping a stress journal can help you identify common stressors and find ways to manage them.
Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Techniques like deep breathing, yoga, and meditation activate the body's relaxation response, countering the stress response. They can help reduce stress levels and promote a sense of calm and centeredness.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Regular physical exercise and a balanced diet can increase your resistance to stress. Regular exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, the body's natural mood lifters. A balanced diet ensures your body is well-nourished and better prepared to cope with stress.
Manage Your Time Effectively: Juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities can be stressful. Prioritize your tasks and manage your time effectively to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Break down large projects into smaller, manageable tasks. For example, identifying your top three non-negotiable for the day.
Connect with Others: Social support plays a crucial role in stress management. Spending quality time with loved ones, sharing your feelings, and seeking support can help alleviate stress. Research indicates that having a strong network of social support, especially involving close women friends or relatives, can serve as a protective layer against stress and anxiety. Supportive connections can assist women in managing difficulties, bolstering self-esteem, and fostering a feeling of inclusion. It is also suggested by studies that robust networks of women can improve emotional fortitude and encourage quicker recuperation from mental health issues such as depression and trauma.
Limit Exposure to Stressors: As Gawdat suggests, making small changes in your routine can limit your exposure to stressors. This could mean adjusting your sleep schedule, managing your digital time, or avoiding unnecessary conflicts. This is one of the key factors to stress management.
Adopt a Positive Attitude: How we perceive and respond to stressful situations can significantly impact our stress levels. Adopting a positive attitude, reframing problems, and practicing gratitude can help manage stress effectively.
Seek Professional Help: If stress becomes overwhelming, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Therapists, coaches, and counselors can provide strategies and tools to manage stress effectively.
Reflecting on your routines and habits can help identify areas where you can implement changes to enhance stress management. Consider these reflective questions to better manage stress through effective time management strategies and priority setting, which can serve as time management stress relief.
What time do you usually go to bed? Could you adjust your bedtime to ensure you get enough sleep?
How do you wake up in the morning? Could a gentler alarm sound make waking up less stressful?
How do you usually start your day? Could avoiding checking emails first thing in the morning reduce stress?
How often do you exercise? Could incorporating more physical activity into your routine help manage stress?
What does your diet look like? Could making healthier food choices improve your ability to handle stress?
How much time do you spend on social media? Could reducing this time help decrease stress?
How often do you take time to relax and unwind? Could incorporating relaxation techniques into your routine help manage stress?
How balanced is your work-life situation? Could setting boundaries and prioritizing tasks help reduce stress?
How often do you connect with others? Could spending more time with loved ones or participating in social activities help manage stress?
How do you usually react to stressful situations? Could adopting a more positive attitude or reframing problems help manage stress more effectively
In summary, developing flexibility and adaptability can play a significant role in how to deal and manage stress, particularly when faced with unexpected situations. There are many ways to manage stress and learning how to manage stress is not an overnight process. It requires consistent effort, patience, and the willingness to make necessary changes in your lifestyle. Remember, it's okay to have bad days and not to be too hard on yourself. The important thing is to keep trying and not give up. Stress management is also not a one-size-fits-all solution; it's about finding the right strategies to relieve stress that work for you.
Each person's experience with stress is unique, and techniques for relieving stress in one individual may not be effective for another. The key is to explore various methods for stress reduction and discover the most effective ways to control stress in your life, incorporating resilience skills and proactive coping. It's not the events in your life that cause stress, but rather your response to them. By being consciously aware of your micro and macro stressors, you can better manage and minimize stress effectively with stress reduction techniques, leading to a happier, healthier, and more balanced life. The journey to becoming 'unstressable' is a marathon, not a sprint, and it requires practice, intentionality, patience, consistency, and commitment. But with the right tools and support, including proactive coping strategies, you can successfully navigate through life's stresses and emerge stronger, happier, and more resilient.
Let's talk about your stress and learn the tools to manage them. Start your journey with us today.√