The American Psychological Association reports the latest statistics on stress in America. The top causes of stress include work, money, health, relationships, poor nutrition, media overload and lack of quality sleep. This means coping strategies may be able to help you manage your stress!
Nearly half of those surveyed said stress is having a significant impact on their lives. Meaning, stress is causing them either physiological or psychological problems.
TYPES OF STRESS
There are three types of stress and each one can cause damage if not managed properly.
Acute stress is short-term. It can range from exciting events, like riding a roller coaster, to more dangerous events like a minor car accident. The most common symptoms of acute stress include headaches, bowel issues, or emotional distress. It is very manageable.
Episodic acute stress is experienced when acute stress happens often, or when a person has many episodes of minor stress events. People with episodic acute stress are typically seen as worriers and wanting to control every situation.
Episodic acute stress can lead to headaches, body aches, and even high blood pressure.
Chronic stress can be damaging to both the body and the mind. This is because most people with chronic stress do not see a viable solution to their problem, which is usually a big problem like poverty or living in an abusive environment.
Chronic stress can lead to physical illness such as heart disease, which can be fatal.
The good news is that all types of stress are manageable using proper coping strategies. Listed below are some of the ways you can start managing stress today.
MANAGE YOUR DIETARY HABITS
What you drink and eat can help you manage stress levels in your body. For instance, drinking black tea has been found to lower stress. Eating healthy foods versus processed foods is another way to manage stress. Processed foods cause weight gain and digestion problems, among many other negative symptoms.
Drinking alcohol, using drugs, or smoking cigarettes are habits that will dramatically increase stress. Too much of these habits diminishes the nutrients the body receives, inhibits mental processes, and can lead to addiction, which creates a higher level of stress.
Eliminating negative habits will help you battle stress and avoid further negative consequences.
MANAGE YOUR MIND
It is common to feel as if your mind is racing all the time when you are struggling with stress. It becomes hard to fall asleep or stay focused on important tasks.
Practicing in meditation or prayer can help calm the mind and lower stress levels. Meditation gives you time to silence the mental chaos that takes place when we are overworked and pressured to complete work.
MANAGE YOUR BREATHING
Breathing plays a crucial role in stress. You will notice, when stressed, breaths are short and can lead to hyperventilation. Deep breathing has been shown to have beneficial stress relieving effects. Taking deep breaths can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, leading to reduced stress, this makes this one the coping strategies that you should learn.
MANAGE YOUR SOURCES OF STRESS
Being honest about what is causing your stress will help you work on managing it. Areas in your life such as work, family, education, financial, and personal relationships can add stress to your life. Each of these areas can be demanding too much of your time and energy. You may also find they do not have to be so stressful.
It could be that you are putting extra stress on yourself. Yes, you can be your ownsource of stress. Trying to control everything, volunteering for every job, not delegating work, or saying “yes” to every request are a few stressors you can change right away.
MANAGE YOUR EXERCISE
Exercise has been proven to reduce stress. It has many benefits, physically and mentally. And you do not have to run a marathon to get exercise. In fact, just a few minutes of activity a day can lower stress and release endorphins that make you feel happy.
Engaging in simple exercise like walking, dancing, riding a bike, and even playing ping pong can help reduce stress.
Yoga is also a great exercise to engage in, as it helps you focus on all your body parts, while practicing good breathing techniques.
MANAGE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Not all relationships are healthy. Even relationships with family and close friends can be unhealthy at times. This can cause stress that leads to mental or physical problems.
Just the thought of a negative person can raise stress levels. Being around them on a consistent basis can make your stress levels rise and become dangerous. If you are unable to work with a negative person in changing their behaviors, it may be wise to limit the time you spend with them.
Getting help with a counselor to help you deal with negative people in your life is a smart move. It may just be a simple action needed to improve your stress.
MANAGE YOUR PLAY TIME
Even as an adult, you can benefit from having fun. Finding ways to play can reduce stress. Do something you enjoy and that makes you laugh. Laughter reduces stress. Finding time to do something fun is crucial to improving health.
It’s important not to allow work and personal duties come between your play time. You need a healthy balance between all of them.
GETTING STARTED ON LEARNING COPING STRATEGIES
Learning coping strategies to manage stress can come from many outlets. You can do your own research online or at the library. You can also work with a professional trained to reduce stress. This may be an alternative care professional such as a naturopath.
You may also meet with a mental health professional. Therapists can provide you with hundreds of ways to reduce stress. They can also help you create a toolbox of activities to help you manage all areas of your life.
Therapists can teach you how to take care of yourself first, so that you can better take care of others later. They teach you to recognize what your body is telling you, so you can act immediately. They can help you succeed at managing stress of all kinds.