The challenges, turmoil, and demands of life never stop coming in. And our constant struggle to appraise the environment and deal with any issues that may arise seems relentless. Stress can take many forms and the events leading up to stress may vary for different individuals, ranging from daily hassles of life to significant life changes. Mild to moderate level of stress is essential for individuals to flourish, but extremely low or high stress levels can have negative consequences. Stress management is not about eliminating stress, but maintaining stress at an optimal level and taking charge of your lifestyle, your thoughts, emotions and the way you tackle situations.
Here are a few ways in which you can try to relieve the stress and regain control:
Maintain a Stress Journal: Keep track of the situations when you experienced stress. Identify the regular stressors and its physical, emotional and behavioural impact on you. Also record the ways in which you deal with them.
Physical Activity: Exercise daily for at least half an hour to strengthen your immune system and reduce the risk of developing any ailments, both physical and psychological. Choose any form of exercise that you are likely to enjoy, be it yoga, aerobics, zumba, swimming, walking or jogging.
Healthy eating: Have a nutritional diet as a nourished body will be better able to manage stress. Reduce the intake of caffeine as it may make you jittery and restless in the long run, impacting you mood and energy. Avoid the use of alcohol, smoking or drugs as they may provide temporary relief from stress but are harmful in the long run.
Adequate Sleep: Get enough sleep so that your body and mind stays charged up to go through the day’s routine. Your body requires at least 6 – 8 hours of sleep at a stretch at night. Decreased sleep may tire you easily, thereby limiting your resources to tackle difficult situations and increasing stress.
Engage in Leisure and Relaxation: Make time for yourself, to engage in your hobbies and tasks that interest you. Include relaxation or meditation in your daily schedule and try deep breathing exercises daily.
Self expression: Laughter is the best medicine for relieving stress. Try to look at the lighter side of situations so that they don’t tend to overwhelm you. Find ways to express your emotions through writing, art, or talking with friends and family.
Social Support: Man is a social animal. Hence, spending quality time with someone who understands you and makes you feel safe, is a natural stress reliever. Stay connected with your family and friends and build a support network that may improve your resilience to stress.
Time management: Don’t commit yourself to too many things simultaneously, trying to fit too much into one day. Prioritize activities and break them down into smaller tasks for completion. Divide activities according to importance and urgency in order to prioritize. Share the responsibility for task completion by seeking support when required.
Practice the 4As of Stress Management: Avoid, Alter, Adapt and Accept are the 4 As of Stress Management.
Avoid situations, persons or events that act as stressors by being assertive and taking control of the environment. Alter the situations by changing the way you deal with them and conduct yourself in daily life. Adapt to stressful situations by changing your perspective towards them by reframing your problem and looking at the bigger picture through a different lens. Accept the stressors beyond your control and look for silver linings instead of focusing on the dark side of it.
By Ms. Asmita Dalvi