Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life. Simply put, stress is what you feel when you have to take care of more situations than you are used to. And while managing stress is a normal part of life, most people struggle to find and create healthful ways of managing it. Here, Face2Face Africa has put together our top five techniques to manage stress.
How Your Body Handles Stress
When there’s a stressful situation, your brain responds as if you are in danger and signals your body to produce a rush of hormones that fuel your ability to respond — these hormones speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. This is called the “fight-or-flight stress response.”
Once the perceived threat is gone, your body is supposed to return to a normal relaxed state. Unfortunately, sometimes with the never-ending stress of urban life, our bodies rarely return to normal. And if stress happens too often or lasts too long, it can have bad effects on your health.
Persistent stress has been linked to headaches, upset stomach, back aches, and even sleep disorders. Stress can weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight illnesses. Stress can also make you moody, tense, or even depressed, and as a result, your relationships may suffer and you may not do well at work or school.
This is why it is very important to manage stress properly.
How To Manage Stress
Often times when we are stressed, we tend to engage in certain behaviors that do not necessarily help us in the long run. Examples include over-eating and binge eating, drinking alcohol, smoking, speaking and eating very fast, working too much, and even sleeping too little or not at all.
Engaging in as little as just one of these behaviors means that you’re not handling stress well.
How To Control Stress
In all of the negativity that comes with stress, the good news is that it can be managed well and kept under control. First, it is important to identify what exactly is stressing you. Once you can identify your stressors, then you can start thinking about strategies to deal with them. In addition to identifying your stressors and focusing on them directly, here are a few ideas to keep your stress levels low:
1. Speak up. Talk with family and friends. Share your thoughts, hopes, and worries with people who care about you. Let your feelings out. Talk, laugh, cry, and express anger — albeit in a constructive manner — when you need to with someone you trust. Remember that a daily dose of good conversation is great medicine.
2. Engage in daily physical activity. Regular physical activity helps to relieve physical and mental stress and improve sleep as well. Exercise is a great way to do this, and it doesn’t have to be overly rigorous, in fact, engaging in an activity as simple as walking goes a long way. Studies have shown that adults who are physically active have a lower risk of loss of mental function and depression.
3. Give up bad habits. Smoking cigarettes and consuming alcohol and even caffeine are behaviors that add more stress to your body in very dangerous ways. If you engage in any one of these practices, now is a good time to decide to take steps to quit.
4. Manage your time. You can use “to-do” lists to help you focus on the important things. This helps you to pace yourself instead of always racing against time and achieving nothing. With a list, you can handle big tasks one at a time, significantly reducing stress levels.
5. Try not to worry and accept the things you cannot change. The world won’t end on your account, regardless of how many things you think you have on your plate. Learn to focus on the present. Find the humor in life. Relax.
The truth is that stress is a part of our daily lives, and it won’t disappear overnight. However, without stress management, the body will always be on high alert, and over time, high levels of stress will lead to serious health problems. Please don’t wait until stress has a negative impact on your health, relationships, or quality of life. Get started on these ideas and manage your stress levels today.
Stay healthy, folks!