Stress is something that every single person experiences. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is how the brain and body respond to any demand. This means that stress can be caused by any type of challenge you face. Some of the main causes of stress include changes in your routine, sudden negative changes, or traumatic events. These stressors can cause short-term stress or long-term stress, depending on the person. Regardless, it is important to recognize the stress in your life to handle it properly.
The topic of stress has several layers to it, but it is important to have the basic knowledge to begin to understand your stress. In honor of April being stress awareness month, this article is going to provide you with tips to manage and reduce your stress. Having these tools available can help you live a happier, healthier, and less stressful life. In this article, I’ll provide you with different ways to effectively manage and reduce stress.
While this may seem easier said than done, it is a critical factor in improving your stress levels. This does not mean that you have to pretend that whatever stressful thing that is happening to you is amazing. It means that you recognize these stressors in your life and respond to them positively. You have the choice to feed into your situation with negative thoughts and energy or do what you can to turn it around. Sometimes staying positive is the only thing we can do to help our situation.
There are ways to stay positive even in the worst of times. For example, every night before you go to bed write down five things you are thankful for. Even if your job is putting an insane amount of pressure on you, you can still be grateful for simply having a job. If someone close to you has suddenly gotten ill, you can be grateful that you have friends and family to lean on in these hard times. Over time this technique will help change the way you think about things and change your focus to recognizing all of the wonderful aspects of your life.
Accept that some things are out of your control
As I previously mentioned, staying positive is often the only thing you can do during stressful situations. Many things that cause us stress are completely out of our control. If you are feeling a ton of pressure at work because of someone else’s mistake, or crash into someone while you are driving or a loved one falls ill, there is not much you can do besides deal with it. Accepting the fact that you truly can not do anything to change what has happened can help lower your stress.
This does not mean that you are not allowed to have feelings towards the situation, but that staying upset, angry, or stressed is not going to fix what has already happened. If the stressor in your life is your fault, try to accept what you did, move on, and learn from it. If the stressor is caused by someone else’s mistake or actions, understand that you are not responsible for them. This will make you feel less like the victim in your life and empower you to take control where you can.
Practice techniques for relaxation
Sometimes all our body needs to de-stress is some relaxation. When we feel stressed, it can feel like our life is all over the place, or our mind is flooded with different thoughts. Doing a ten-minute meditation every day will help clear your mind and allow you to think clearer throughout your day. Similar to how meditation works, yoga is a relaxation technique that will help you cope with the stress in your life.
Both meditation and yoga force you to focus on your breath and channel your thinking away from the stressors in your life. By learning and practicing relaxation techniques regularly, you will be able to change the way you automatically cope with stress. Instead of feeling tense, ill, or overwhelmed, you will be able to respond more mindfully.
Learn to say no
Something incredibly difficult for many people is learning how to say no. We will overbook and overexert ourselves and add stress to our lives just because we think we will upset someone by saying no. Learning how to say no is essentially a form of self-care. We all need alone time, it is when we can decompress and shut out the crazy world for a little bit.
Take a look at your calendar and block off the time that you need for yourself. Just because you are available does not mean you have to be doing something or are available for someone else. If you know that going to a certain event will add stress to your life and you are only going to go because you feel like you have to, don’t go. It is okay to skip out on parties or events for the sake of your well-being.
Seek professional help
More often than not, people need professional help to deal with the stress in their life and seeking professional help is not something to be embarrassed about. We all have so much going on, trying to learn how to cope with your stress alone can be too much. Therapists and counselors can help you understand the triggers of stress in your life and offer personalized coping methods for each patient. Getting professional help will help you understand yourself better and allow you to become a better person to those around you.
How do you manage or reduce stress in your life? Share your feedback in the comments below.
Author bio: Aimee Kauffman, LPC is a therapist in East Lansing, Michigan specializing in individual therapy. She has a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Michigan State University and has been in practice for more than a decade.