Stress Management Does Not Have to Be Hard: Keeping It Simple
At some point or another, everyone experiences stress throughout their daily lives. Whether it be something as simple as paying the bills each month or having too many responsibilities at work, or something larger like divorce or moving to a new place, stress follows us through all aspects of our lives.
We’ve lived through the pandemic and, for many, life is returning as we once knew it. However, worry and stress are still pervasive particularly among workers who are facing a return to the office. Funny how it was so difficult to work from home and, now, many are used to this way of work that they don’t want to return, at least not full-time.
These new events, along with others, has increased stress levels with 80% of Americans reporting prolonged stress (apa.org). Stress is inevitable and can cause many negative impacts on the quality of our lives and even our long-term health. Chronic stress can even occur without us realizing since we are so caught up in the daily motions and responsibilities of our lives.
By identifying the different things that are causing stress in our daily lives, we can follow specific stress management techniques that are surprisingly simpler than one would expect. Stress management is not one size fits all and not all techniques work the same on every individual, but there are many things to practice to balance and notice our stress levels.
Although it may seem cliché, jotting down the various things that cause us stress and the emotions we deal with on a daily basis can greatly decrease our stressors and identify patterns and themes.
The way to utilize a stress journal is to jot down what you are experiencing when you recognize a stressful situation in your life. You can write down the event or experience that caused your stress, the different emotions you felt going through it, and the way you responded to the situation. Include time of day, what you were doing, and other impacts such as lack of sleep or food, as these can impact your stress symptoms.
After a couple of weeks of doing things, you will likely be able to identify the themes where stress is occurring in your life (triggers) and a solution may appear sooner than you would think. For example, if each of your stress entries occurred while at work, it could be that your company or the position you are in is causing you more stress than you thought.
Likewise, the way you handle stress can also lead to either dealing with it or ignoring it; I find that many people ‘push off’ their stress, thinking it’s not that bad, they can handle it, or they don’t want to tell someone for fear of looking ‘weak’ or a burden. The more you don’t deal with any stressful thoughts/feelings, the more negative impact they will have.
Based on your various journal entries, you will identify ways to manage your stress on your own and adapt your life in order to feel calmer and less overwhelmed. By writing down your stressors, you will also be able to release the emotions rather than feeling like they are bottled up in your mind. This will relieve your brain fog and allow you to focus on the tasks in front of you.
Staying physically active for just a small amount of time each day is one of the best stress management techniques that is widely overlooked. Even though the things that stress you out may feel like they are priority over taking time for exercise, it is a huge stress reliever that is scientifically proven to improve not only your physical health but your mental health.
During your work day, you can take time to do some form of exercise, which will expend stress hormones in a healthier way while giving your brain a ‘recharge.’ Walk around your office or home, do some leg lifts or arm push-ups; go outside and walk – breathing air (especially around trees) will help you breathe more (stress tends to constrict) so you feel calmer. If you sit at work, take some time to stand and do your work which helps with posture, gastric, and brain clarity.
Making time for physical exercise is a great way to relieve and strengthen the mind. You will feel better which will make the daunting tasks you are stressed about a lot more manageable.
Although meditation may seem like a challenging task that takes a lot of time and effort, it is quite the opposite. Meditation allows you to connect with the mind and attempt to clear it of the different stressors that you experience throughout the day.
According to Healthline, even meditating for 8 minutes a day has a lot of health benefits and will increase your productivity and alertness throughout the day. Meditation is crucial to the brain, which strengthens neuroplasticity, and is the best and most important stress management technique. Over time, meditation has a direct link with stress relief and overall calmness.
Breathing is one of the most simple way to manage stress. When worry or stressful situations occur, the body tends to constrict, trying to hold it together, which means that cortisol (the stress hormone) is unable to move throughout the body and do its job which is to help you feel calmer. Breathing opens up those red blood cells so the brain and body feel calmer. It’s a jot of java you need.
You can use the 4-7-8 rule, which means you take your breathe in slowly for a count of 4; you hold It for a count of 7; and then push out slowly for a count of 8; the more you do this it will become an automatic response when under pressure. Even if you sit and breathe for 2 minutes, you will see a definite calming response.
These are some easy tips to managing stress. However, it’s crucial to pay attention to feeling stress and not just push it off as, over time, it gets worse which can lead to burnout and emotional and physical problems. That neck pain? Trouble sleeping? Irritability? Most likely, stress, so don’t allow it to go on; pay attention to your physical symptoms and, when noticed, use them to begin a healthy habit and practice to effectively deal with stress. Your brain and body will thank you.
If you, or your company, would like help with understanding and managing stress, reach out to learn how we can help. Stop the struggle today!