Have you ever been stressed? I am convinced that yes. We have all suffered once from this problem and it is certainly important not to ignore it.
It is not a bad thing, it is a normal reaction of your body to a change or to what you perceive as a danger.
The problem comes when that stress ceases to be punctual and fleeting and comes into your life.
You live in a fast-paced society, where you run everywhere and always keep an eye on the clock and the phone.
This breakneck pace and constant digital connection make you vulnerable to stress and mental illness.
For this reason, stress management is essential today to improve your health and well-being.
Consequences of stress
Surely at some point in your life, you have suffered the most obvious symptoms of stress: nervousness, insomnia, irritability...
And perhaps you have also suffered some of its other effects, which we do not usually relate directly to stress or that go more unnoticed at first sight: muscle pain, excessive sweating, lowering of defenses...
Although it is not the subject of this article, I am going to make a quick summary of the consequences that prolonged exposure to stress has for our body. We are influenced by three levels:
Behavior: our performance decreases, we become more isolated, our social relationships worsen, we tend to abuse tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs, we suffer from eating or sexual disorders...
Mind: our irritability, anxiety, and insecurity increases, we worry about unimportant things, we find it hard to concentrate and make decisions, we have negative thoughts and we feel sadder.
Body: headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, and muscle contractions or pain are becoming more frequent, we sweat more than usual, we have skin problems, our blood pressure and heart rate go up and it is difficult to keep the blood sugar and cholesterol level.
Symptoms of stress
But, today I am not going to talk about the problems that stress can cause us. Such a number of negative effects on our body "deserves" an article of its own... or several chapters.
What I wanted to talk to you about today is stress management, the keys on which to work to reduce your stress level or, at least, make it not increase.
Identify your stressors
The first step for you to keep stress at bay is to identify the sources of stress in your life, both in the family or private and work environment. You must think about the situations that lead to stress.
Although it may seem simple at first, it is not so much.
There are some more or less obvious stressors (discussions with your partner, a boss who "squeezes you", an invoice that you cannot pay...), but others are more hidden and you will have to do an honest search exercise.
We tend to focus on the external sources of stress and forget about the internal ones: your thoughts, your feelings, and your stressful behaviors.
Stress Management To Improve Your Life
Next, I will talk about some techniques for stress management. Some are easier to apply than others, start small and be consistent.
Do not get overwhelmed or push yourself too much and you will see that little by little they will bear fruit.
Read a book or watch a documentary on stress
The first step in fighting stress is getting to know it. Don't get obsessed with the topic, just learn about how stress works and what mechanisms it uses.
It will help you understand some of your reactions and will be the foundation on which to work on your stress management.
Avoid unnecessary stress
There are stressful situations that you have to face, whether you want to or not. Many are unforeseen and others would not be healthy to try to avoid them.
But, there are also times when you can decide. And that decision greatly influences your stress management.
Find what's more important to you. Leave things that are not really necessary at the end of the day or permanently remove them from your to-do list.
Learn how to say NO. There are times in life when we can and should refuse certain things. Be realistic and aware of your limits, and if you think that you are not going to have time or are in too much trouble, do not offer to help a colleague at work or tell your friend that you cannot meet her today.
Analyze your relationships. If someone stresses you systematically, avoid spending time with that person or cut the relationship permanently.
Modify some habits. If watching a horror movie at night prevents you from getting a good night's rest, leave it for another time. If watching the news makes you anxious, change the channel. If talking about your work with your partner causes you more stress, limit that topic, and talk about something more pleasant.
Modify the stressful situation
If you can't avoid the stressful situation, try changing it.
Express your feelings, don't keep them. If something or someone bothers you, talk about it.
Even if you don't verbalize them, your body feels those negative emotions and it carries itself as if it were a backpack full of frustration and resentment.
Explain honestly, openly, and respectfully the comments or situations that bother you and how they make you feel.
The Assertiveness allows you to interact with others without aggression or passivity. Assertive communication has been shown to increase positive responses.
Organize your time. Many times it is enough to plan your schedule the day before to notice a great improvement in the use of time. In situations of rush and stress, it will be harder for you to focus and stop planning.
Flee from procrastination (postponing activities that must be attended to, replacing them with more irrelevant or pleasant ones).
Do not generate more worries
Control your expectations and your self-demand. On many occasions, we are the ones who cause stressful situations.
Relativizes. Think about whether that stressor really is. How important will it be in the long term? Can't I be happy if I don't get it?
Approach things from a more positive perspective, instead of focusing on the negative. Remove words from your vocabulary as always, never, should, should, have to.
Adjust your expectations and your goals being realistic, do not punish yourself. Perfectionism is an inexhaustible source of stress. You don't have to do everything perfectly, many times doing it well is enough.