What is Stress?
Stress refers to emotional, physical or chemical factors that cause disturbance mentally or bodily. Factors causing stress could include toxins, infections, injuries, infections and a number of emotional causes. Stress is often associated with psychological unrest, but it can affect several bodily functions.
Managing severe stress is important, but you must remember that not all stress is bad for you. Moderate stress during work can propel you to work and focus better. Temporary stress caused to the body because of exercise also has some excellent benefits.
Importance of Managing Stress
Stress has a negative impact on your emotional and physical health. High levels of stress can inhibit a clear thought process, thereby impeding your functions. While it may seem that the stress you experience is beyond your control, it is actually not so. Some external factors causing stress may be uncontrollable, but how to manage stress is in your hands.
Coping with stress can help you become healthier and happier. Stress management in the workplace can lead to a balanced life where you focus on your work, leisure and relationships in equal measure. It is important that you determine and personalise the method of stress management that works best for you.
Causes of Stress
It is impossible for an individual to eliminate stress entirely. This is because there are several sources of stress in an individual's life including quality of relationships, financial burdens and physical health. Here are some sources of stress in the life of an average individual:
- People who have weak support networks in their social life are more likely to be stressed when compared to those who have a strong support system in terms of family, religious organisations, friends and other social groups.
- As life stages progress, people may undergo additional stress. For example, babies and infants do not encounter stress but children and teenagers do. College students, senior citizens and working parents are also groups of people who experience stress.
- Those who get poor nutrition or are suffering from an illness are likely to be more stressed. Inadequate sleep can also lead to stress. These factors hinder an individual from carrying out their everyday responsibilities by causing higher levels of stress.
- Caregivers and those taking care of the sick and the elderly also experience stress. When a person's loved one is undergoing stress, it is likely that they, too, will experience it.
4 A’s of Stress Management
Like mentioned earlier, it is impossible to eliminate stress entirely. However, in order to keep stress under control, one can follow the four As:
Many triggers of stress can be easily avoided. This can be achieved by planning in advance and ensuring that one does not take a heavy load with respect to future tasks. This can be done by taking control of little things like leaving early for work, avoiding those who bother you, learning to say no so that you have time for relaxation, and not taking too much on your plate at a time.
When certain stress-producing situations cannot be avoided, it is wise to make alterations to make things better. Asking someone respectfully to change their behaviour and making changes in yours willingly can help alleviate stress. It is imperative that you communicate more openly about your feelings so that the person on the other end can understand the position you are in.
Managing your time more efficiently by making some changes in your routine can ease your mind and give you more free time. Finally, establishing limitations and boundaries so that you do not get sucked into an unwelcome situation is also an effective tool in managing your stress.
When things cannot be changed or avoided, it is best to just accept them as they are and move on. You can do so by talking to someone so that you can be reassured that your feelings are acknowledged as valid and legitimate.
In order to accept, it is important that you forgive. Getting angry, bearing resentment and simmering with frustration will only fuel your stress. Forgiveness does not come easy, but it is better to forgive and move on rather than burn so much negative energy.
One negative thought can lead to another and so on. Instead of unleashing a burden of negativity upon yourself, it is important to remind yourself to be positive and resilient. Having a reassuring and inspiring conversation with yourself will help you get rid of excessive stress. Moreover, learning from your mistakes can go a long way in stress management.
Rolling with the punches and getting out of your comfort zone can sometimes help manage stress as no other practice can. Likewise, altering your expectations and standards can also help you immensely in dealing with stress.
Sometimes, avoiding guilt by changing your definition of success and perfection can help you feel free of frustration. Similarly, you can avoid being stressed and frustrated by viewing a certain prickly issue from a fresh, more positive standpoint.
Make a conscious effort to put a stop to negative thoughts. Thoughts can often seem to be beyond your control and lead you to a gloomy place. Instead, reassure yourself that you can tide over any adverse situation.
It is important to focus on the positives like the things that bring you joy. This will give you perspective on the things that are important and joyous in your life. Additionally, look at the bigger picture when faced with an unpleasant situation and you will realise that it is not worth the stress you are taking.
Coping Strategies for Stress
While the four A’s dictate how to can manage stress for the long term, here are a few tips that will help you get some immediate relief from stress:
- Exercise can help lower stress hormones like cortisol and release endorphins that improve the mood.
- Improving your quality of sleep brings down levels of stress and anxiety.
- Take supplements to reduce stressors. These could include omega-3 fatty acids, ashwagandha, kava and green tea.
- Burning incense, lighting a candle or using essential oils with calming scents like rose, lavender, sandalwood, vetiver, ylang ylang, orange and frankincense help lower stress.
- Caffeine, commonly found in tea, coffee, chocolate and energy drinks stimulates anxiety. Cutting back on caffeine will get rid of feeling jittery and stressed.
- Keeping a journal, especially focusing on what you are grateful for can be a good way to alleviate stress.
- Chewing gum has been linked with lower stress levels. It causes brain waves that are similar to those of relaxed people. It also promotes blood flow in the brain.
- Spending time with loved ones like friends and family can give you a sense of belonging and promote self-worth.
- It is said that laughter is the best medicine and with reason. Laughter relieves the stress response and tension in the muscles.
Effects of Stress
When an individual fails to manage their stress, it can lead to a number of problems. These include:
- Sleep disturbances, anxiety and tension, headaches, anger, depression, trouble concentrating or decreased appetite.
- Studies have also found that psychological stress can worsen the symptoms of almost all medical conditions including multiple sclerosis, asthma, acne, cardiovascular disease, depression and fibromyalgia.
- Prolonged overwhelming stress can cause burnout and a loss in regular activities.
- Chronic stress has the effect of weakening the immune system in the long run.
Prolonged, mismanaged stress can have several effects on your health. Fortunately, stress can be managed by engaging in some activities on a personal level and making some adjustments in your attitude and personal life. With mindfulness and exercise, you can improve your levels of stress, whether personal or in the workplace. Yet, there could be unavoidable health issues that you might face in life. To account for this, it is advisable to have health insurance in place so as to avoid the financial stress that comes with today’s expensive health care! Consider visiting the Finserv MARKETS website for more information on the same.