Stress. We all have it, and it takes a toll on us all.
Whether your stress comes from your family, your job, or your financial situation, stress is stress, and our struggles are all the same. If we let stress dictate our lives, we’ll suffer greatly.
Too much stress causes disease, the breakdown of relationships, negative work consequences, and myriad of other problems.
How we react to stress affects others around us, which is why it is an important interpersonal skill. If we learn personal stress management techniques, we can understand that while stress will always be there, we don’t always have to be its victim, and we will not ourselves become a stress factor for others.
What Is Personal Stress Management?
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever increasing demands of life.”
Stress is actually caused by a physical reaction in your body. According to the Mayo Clinic, when your brain detects a threat, it releases hormones, and those hormones cause the stress reaction. The problem is that stress is a never-ending parade of threats — meaning your body continually produces hormones that make it hard for you to relax or think clearly.
Stress management, on the other hand, is “a range of tools to reset your alarm system,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Those tools are the strategies that you develop to handle each of the personal stressors in your life.
What Are Everyday Examples of Personal Stress Management?
Stress comes in many forms and is present in almost all of life’s situations. Below is just one example of how an individual can engage in a personal stress management strategy to improve his wellbeing.
Jim experiences stress on a daily basis. Some days he is so full of stress that he feels physically sick. Jim has a stressful job — he is a waiter, and his customers are frequently in a hurry and make impossible demands on him. His stress management strategy begins when he identifies this as the trigger to his stress.
The next step in his personal stress management process is to determine how he can better deal with this situation to reduce stress. Jim does this by meeting with his manager and explaining the problem to him. He asks if he can have fewer tables at work, and the manager agrees. He also gives himself a daily reality check.
This job is not the most important thing in the world. He wants to do his best, but knows a cool head is healthier and will help him make better decisions each day. He thinks of this whenever he encounters a stressful moment and replaces the frustration he is feeling with images of what he considers more important parts of his life — his wife and young child.
How Can I Develop My Personal Stress Management Skills?
Personal stress management skills are just that — personal.
The Mayo Clinic identifies the first step to stress management as identifying the stressor — what is causing you stress? Once you know this, you must determine how you will deal with the stressor differently to reduce stress.
Simply knowing the cause of your stress will not help you reduce it, but changing the way you act or react will.
In some cases, you might need to remove the stressor by quitting your job or not visiting the people who are causing the reaction. But in many cases, you can find a way to simply modify how you deal with the stressor and reduce your stress.
Some common relaxation methods include:
- Yoga or Tai Chi
- Mild to moderate exercise, such as taking a walk in nature, dancing or playing a sport
- Getting a massage
- Having a nice chat with a friend
- Have a laugh
- Listening to relaxing music with your eyes closed
- Painting or writing
Everyone has different relaxation techniques or stress relievers that work best for them — and while these techniques won’t completely remove what causes your stress, they can help you better manage your stress so that you can make wise choices.
It also helps to keep things in perspective. How terrible, really, is this thing that is happening to you? Will it affect the rest of your life in a negative way?
Worrying is really no help at all. If you have a problem and you can fix it, then, why worry? If you have a problem and cannot fix it then worrying about it doesn’t help the situation either. Just accept it and adapt to the new situation.
Dealing with stress is often very challenging. It is easy to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and even desperate. If you need to, call on the help of a counselor. A counselor can help you identify what is causing stress and come up with methods of stress management. This is an excellent choice if you are “stuck” and feel like you can’t address the problem on your own.
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