Stress is an ever increasing concern for your physical health as well as your mental health. If you are not controlling your stress, you are welcoming problems into your life. The majority of us were not taught skills to manage stress, yet, it is something that everyone experiences from time to time, some of us, every day! Stress is something that we cannot avoid in life and it can be anything from pressures at work, to problems in your relationship to less obvious stress, like noise and traffic, etc
The real key to understanding stress is to become aware of the fact, that it is not about how bad things seem or how much you have on your plate, but how you manage and deal with stress is what really counts. You see it every day and I´m sure you know a few people, who get stressed really easily, over the most menial matters. Just by looking at something stressful like a traffic jam, they go into a complete panic attack, mood changing immediately, emotions flying everywhere. It can be scary to watch sometimes as well. Then there are those who don´t let the situation take the better of them and they manage it assertively, the results and consequences of each behavior are incomparable.
The danger of not managing stress is that it has very grave consequences. Researchers have estimated that stress contributes to up to 80% of all major illnesses. We experience the symptoms in a very real way, headaches to back aches to skin disorders to depression as well. If you suffer from long term stress, you need to take back control and take the steps to manage it better. If you are not aware of how stressed you are, ask some of your friends and family, they can be the best at ¨showing us our blind spots¨ and seeing what we don’t see sometimes.
Firstly, you want to identify the sources of stress in your life – awareness is always the first step. What are the situations that always make you stressed? Make a list of the stressful factors periodically to start monitoring your stress levels. If you have experienced a death this year, changed job, house or spouse, had a surgery, health problems, etc, these contribute hugely to stress. The more of these experiences you have in a year, the more stressed you will feel. Every day stress like at the office, traffic, at home, this needs to be managed immediately.
Secondly, you need to eliminate the things that stress you often and if not, learn to cope with them. If you are able to master your mindset when you feel stressed, you have won 90% of the battle.
Telling yourself ¨I am in control, it is not that bad and everything will work out¨; will make you feel completely different than if you were telling yourself ¨I have no control, this is the worst that can happen and it will turn out really bad¨. The conversation you have with yourself is the most effective way to deal with stress. When you are in a mindset of panic and stress, you cannot think as clearly, so not only are you inflating the situation but you are not putting yourself in the right mindset to deal with it effectively. Change your perspective of the situation, think of it in another way and you will notice how your emotions immediately follow.
Here are some other tips to start getting your stress levels back to normal, besides having a healthy diet and regular exercise.
- RELAX more often
- Do activities that force you to relax, being able to relax when needed is a great skill to develop!
- Try meditation, it is famous for reducing stress
- Practice Deep Breathing, this is one of the most effective tools to use to calm yourself down whenever you need.
- REST more often
- It seems obvious and if you knew exactly how important it is to rest properly when you sleep, you wouldn´t miss out on this one. When we tired we feel stressed.
- ENJOY LIFE MORE
- Try to do more of the things that you love and bring you joy. When you feel happier and more fulfilled, your stress levels reduce.
- Create a stress free environment around you, so that stress is reduced wherever possible!
If you are feeling really lost and uncertain about how you can improve your situation, I encourage you to get the guidance of a professional. Stress comes in all disguises and it is crippling! You already have all the tools you need to control your stress inside you. Control your stress, don´t let it control YOU!