Stress is a universal experience. From busy professionals to stay-at-home moms, teens to empty nesters; stress takes a heavy toll on the health and well-being of all. With stress levels increasing all over the world in recent years, it's not surprising that WHO has declared stress as a global epidemic.
What is Stress Management, and what is it NOT?
When they hear the word, “stress management,” most people think it’s about removing all things that cause them stress. The truth is that it’s not possible or desirable to eliminate all “stressors” from one’s life.
Some amount of stress is essential to keep you excited about life. The butterflies you get in your stomach before a first date, the adrenaline rush when doing something adventurous, the jittery feeling you get before an important work meeting – are examples of good stress (Eustress) that help you go beyond your capabilities and perform well.
On the other hand, acute or chronic stress takes a toll on your overall health. When you are constantly stressed, your body is always in fight or flight mode. This keeps your nervous system on high alert always, which in turn impedes overall body functions leading to all kinds of health troubles.
The smarter and healthier approach here is to accept some amount of stress as part and parcel of life and develop the right strategies to keep it under control.
The truth here is that no one-size fits all. While some people may find that playing with pets reduces their work stress, for others it isn’t that effective. It all depends on what works for you.
You may have to try out different techniques before you can find the right one that clicks. Whether you are looking for a few stress relieving techniques to try out or looking to master new strategies to overcome stress, the following tools can help.
1) Focussed Breathing
You can make a massive difference to your stress levels just by focussing on your breath. Breathing techniques help in calming your brain and body in just a few minutes.
Easy to do anywhere, anytime – work meeting or a crowded subway.
No need for any extra tools or accessories.
There are several breathing techniques. Again, as mentioned above, you need to find the right ones that work for you. Here we explain two breathing exercises that can help:
Deep belly breathing
Place your left hand on your chest and let the right hand rest on your abdomen. Inhale deeply. Notice if the right-hand rises more than the left. If yes, then you are doing right. Exhale through your mouth. Repeat each breath cycle for 8 to 10 seconds.
Let go breathing
Settle into a comfortable posture – lie down, sit up, or even stand. Recognise the emotions running through you – panic, anger, helplessness, etc. Close your eyes and focus on your breath and the emotion in you. Recognise the emotion but don't entertain it. Breathe out while releasing the emotion. Let your negative thoughts move out of you, every time you exhale.
2) Positive Affirmations
It’s a great tool to reprogram your thinking from negative to positive thoughts. The idea here is to surround yourself with positive statements that you would like to see so that they subconsciously enter your mind.
Consider it like a pep talk that you give yourself, frequently.
How to write positive affirmations that work for you?
Start by looking at what you wish to achieve. Then write statements as if they are already true. “I am feeling peaceful today,” is better than “I want to be peaceful.” Avoid using negative statements or words. Keep the statements simple and realistic. “I can handle whatever comes my way,” “I am enjoying today,” though simple is highly effective.
How to introduce positive affirmations in your daily life?
Once you have coined your personal affirmation statements, you need to introduce it into your life. Write it on post-its and stick to your desk or mirror. Write it on the front page of your diary, set it as your mobile wallpaper, or you can record yourself saying the statement and replay it often. Or simply say aloud every now & then, especially when a negative thought comes your way.
It helps to simultaneously relax your body and calm your mind, helping you de-stress within minutes.
Reduces your flight/fight syndrome
Pleasant to practice and easy to learn
Create your own happy place anytime and anywhere
Costs nothing – it’s all the power of your imagination
How to get started?
Imagine a peaceful scene, something that makes you feel relaxed like walking on a beautiful beach, watching a flowing waterfall in a deep forest. Use your creativity to imagine the scene in great detail. You can also take help from online guided imagery recordings.
Close your eyes, visualise and mind travel to your happy place.
Journaling is a great tool not just for stress management but also for improving your health and happiness levels.
Helps to clarify your thoughts and thinking patterns. Slows down your emotions, helping you focus.
It’s an excellent problem-solving tool.
Engages both hemispheres of your brain.
Doesn’t cost much – all you need is a note and pen, or computer typing program like Word.
How to get started?
Set aside a particular time of the day, say before you go to bed, or as soon as you wake up for journaling. Write what’s on your mind and how you are feeling. Describe difficult events in detail. Write about your fears and concerns in chronological order. Describe what you think will happen next, write how that would affect you.
Now, that you have sorted through your emotions, you can find out the best way forward to relieve some of the stress affecting you. There is no right or wrong way to pen a journal. It all depends on what works for you. You can write a bullet journal, gratitude journal, personal planning journal, or an emotional release journal.
With time, try to focus on pen down the positives only. Train your mind to ignore the negatives, magnify the positives.
5) Nature Time
Mother Nature is the best healer, and spending some time outdoors does wonders for your mind and body.
Benefits of Nature Time
Reduces anger, fear, and other negative emotions and increases positive feelings like joy, happiness, etc.
Boosts creativity and helps you avoid feeling burned out.
Promotes work performance and improves relationships.
Keeps you healthy and improves overall well-being.
How to include Nature Time in our busy, urban lifestyles?
Instead of working out at the gym, head out for a walk or a run. While outside, focus on observing your surroundings – animals, birds, sky, trees, buildings, etc. Nature never fails to fill us with wonder and amazement.
Connect with the bountiful energy of the sun, by practising Surya Namaskar (sun salutations) or sunbathing. Pick up a few tools and start gardening. It’s a great way to connect with Mother Earth, and the joy and satisfaction you receive on watching something that you planted grow are immense.
On your next vacation, skip the fancy resorts and do a digital detox. Head on camping or trekking trips, to recharge your batteries and connect with nature.
A Word from Wellcure
Keeping stress at bay plays a crucial role in your overall health and well-being. Finding the right stress relief techniques that work for you may require some time, and you may have to practice these strategies a few times before they click for you.
Just like our body and all other elements of nature, our life goes through cycles of up and down. Instead of getting stressed over things that you cannot control, learn to embrace life’s inevitable ups and downs, and enjoy life with wonder and gratitude.
Don’t let Stress suck away the Joy & Happiness in your Life!
Suggested Further Reading:
Creative Visualisation by Shakthi Gawain -https://www.amazon.in/Creative-Visualization-Shakti-Gawain/dp/1577312295
Daily affirmations and positive quotes by Louise Hay -https://www.louisehay.com/affirmations/
Impact of Stress on your Health-https://www.verywellmind.com/stress-and-health-3145086
Disclaimer: The health journeys, blogs, videos and all other content on Wellcure is for educational purposes only and is not to be considered a ‘medical advice’ ‘prescription’ or a ‘cure’ for diseases. Any specific changes by users, in medication, food & lifestyle, must be done under the guidance of licensed health practitioners. The views expressed by the users are their personal views and Wellcure claims no responsibility for them.