Stress can be positive or negative. It is our reaction to stimuli around us. Some stress can spur us on to perform at a higher level. Other types of situations can cause us to take up bad habits to compensate.
We are talking about the negative kinds of stress here. When there is no outlet for stressful feelings like on the job or at home, the result can be poor mental and physical health and ruined relationships. Usually it will narrow your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life.
Feeling emotional and nervous or having trouble sleeping and eating can all be normal reactions to stress. Here are some healthy ways you can overcome stress and stop it taking over your life:
1) Identify the Sources
When big stress triggers happen it is easy to identify the cause, such as: changing jobs, moving house, marriage breakdown etc. However, much harder to identify can be if it is how your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors contribute to your everyday stress levels.
Finding the sources of your stress can be more difficult than you think. You need to get completely honest with yourself to see where you may be causing these circumstances and reactions.
Sure, you may know that you are constantly worried about all the work you have to do, however, maybe it is your procrastination, rather than the actual list, that is causing the stress. Or the way you choose to think about your list, “I never have enough time to get what I need done.”
To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:
- Do you define stress as a fundamental part of your work or home life: “Things are always crazy around here”
Change: Your perception. You could look at the situation as an opportunity to learn and grow, and to become a stronger person. You may also need to ask for help.
- Or as a part of your personality: “I am just highly strung, that’s all”
Change: You most likely have emotional pain you have not acknowledged or dealt with yet. Or perhaps you have not learnt to strike a healthy balance of work and play.
- Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events? “Micheal did this and now I have so much more to do”
Change: Choosing to be a victim in any circumstance can keep you in a state of stress. Realize you have the power to change your feelings about your life and certain situations. Be willing to say no to things you don’t want to do (if appropriate) and take responsibility for your behavior.
- Do you explain away stress as not a big deal “I just have a million things going on right now”
Change: Martyr complex? It is okay to take a breather if you need to. People pleasing to the detriment of your health helps no-one.
Realizing that you are able to change your perception and feelings towards certain stressful situations is a game-changer. Identify the sources so that they do not have the power over you they once had!
2) Allow Yourself to Feel Uncomfortable Emotions
To help you break free from certain patterns and so that you react differently towards situations around you, you need to allow yourself to feel emotions that are underlying your stress. Uncomfortable emotions such as anxiety, fear, anger, and sadness.
There are many ways you can do this such as: vigorous exercise, hitting a punching bag responsibly to let go of anger, or even simply crying into a towel to release sadness.
Writing and Burning is also a very powerful technique to help you move through deep pain.
3) Be in Gratitude for Your Circumstances
Rather than allowing hardships to turn you into a bitter or helpless victim, choose to use the stressful situations to become a stronger and better person. Choose to see the gift in every circumstance. Do your best to be in gratitude for difficult circumstances as well as the pleasant ones. This simple shift can make a world of difference in your life.
4) Look after Yourself with Regular Exercise and Eating healthy
You can use activities such as going for a walk in nature to help cope with stress. Regular exercise assists with both physical and mental health.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet also helps. Skipping meals and not eating regularly can drop your blood sugar levels and make you not only cranky, but also react to situations in a different way you normally would.
Make sure you regularly take time to enjoy yourself by either socializing, participating in a hobby, or taking time to yourself. This is so important to your overall well-being and happiness.
The list of benefits for meditating is super long! However, in this case meditation helps relieve stress, keeps you calm and centered.
7) Get Enough Sleep
If you are not looking after yourself and feel sleep deprived you can certainly feel more stressed. Make sure you are getting the sleep and rest you need to function properly.
8) Learn to Manage your Time more Effectively
You have a report due by the end of the day, kids to be picked up and dropped off, and an email inbox that is overflowing. But where do you start? First, make a list. This helps you see clearly what is on your plate so you can prioritize what needs attention now and what can wait. Number the items in order of importance and complete them one at a time.
9) Set limits
Sometimes you may take on more than you can mange and then you feel overwhelmed. Learning how and when to say “no” is important so you don’t stretch yourself too thin.
10) Ask for Help
Talk to your partner, children, friends, parents, and coworkers. Let them know you are needing to reduce the amount of stress you deal with, and ask them for help when you require it. They could even help you organize your schedule or let you vent frustrations.
11) Get Professional help
Seek treatment with a psychologist or other mental health professional trained in stress management to learn healthy ways of dealing with the stress in your life.