Stress Management is a set of techniques and programs intended to help people deal more effectively with stress in their lives by analyzing the specific stressors and taking positive actions to minimize their effects. Popular examples of stress management include meditation, yoga, and exercise. We’ll explore these in detail, with a range of different approaches to ensure that there’s something that works for everyone.
Common symptoms of Stress
Although we all experience stress differently, some common symptoms are:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Stomach pain
- Panic attacks
- Difficulty concentrating
- Social isolation
- feeling fatigue and nausea
- and obsessive or compulsive behaviors
Why stress can be helpful
Historically, stress was our friend. It acted as a protective mechanism that warned us of danger; a natural reaction that told us when to run. This response is referred to as the “fight or flight” response, or the “stress response.”
How to deal with Stress
Before discussing stress management techniques, there are several factors to consider.
- Understand your stress – It can be different for everybody. By understanding what stress looks like for you, you can be better prepared, and reach for your stress management toolbox when needed.
- Learn to recognize stress signals – We all process stress differently so it’s important to be aware of your individual stress symptoms. What are your internal alarm bells? Low tolerance, headaches, stomach pains etc.
- Recognize your stress strategies – What is the go-to tactic for calming down? These can be behaviors learned over years and sometimes aren’t the healthy option. For example, some people cope with stress by self-medicating with alcohol or overeating.
- Implement healthy stress management strategies – It’s good to be of any current unhealthy coping behaviors so you can switch them out for a healthy option. For example, if overeating is feasible to destress, one could practice meditation instead, or make a call to a friend to chat through the situation.
- Make self-care a priority-When we make time for ourselves, we put our well-being before others. The simplest things that promote well-being is, enough sleep, good food, downtime, and exercise.
- Ask for support when needed- If one is feeling overwhelmed, reach out to a friend or family member. Speaking with a healthcare professional can also reduce stress, in turn helping us learn healthier coping strategies.
- Creating boundaries- Boundaries are the internal set of rules that you place for yourself. They outline what behaviors we will and won’t accept, how much time and space we need from others, and what priorities we have. When we have healthy boundaries we respect ourselves and take care of our well-being by clearly expressing our boundaries to others.
- Exercise also helps as effective as antidepressants in relieving mild depression. Use techniques such as deep breathing, guided visualizations, and yoga. These activities help relax the body.
Stress is a normal part of caring for someone. Some of the things that cause stress include lack of time to do the things one wants or needs to do, feeling lonely and isolated, managing relationships around the person you care for, getting supports and services, work, education or study concerns, and financial concerns. Use helpful self-talk, keeping a positive attitude, and develop a list of activities you enjoy.