Stress Management – Simple Stress Relief Techniques
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Hey lady, are you here because you’re a big ball of stress ready to blow up on the next person that looks at you sideways or cuts you off in traffic? If you’re like me, you know you can have a short fuse if the conditions are juuust right. But you might not be sure why or how to practice stress management. I mean, you don’t want to catch yourself in the position of accidentally telling your boss to take a flying leap the next time he asks you where your TPS reports are, do you?
If you’ve ever worked in an office environment and you haven’t seen Office Space (the most awesome office satire movie – of all time) stop what you’re doing and figure out a way watch it now. I don’t care if you have to pay the $3 or $4 to rent it, it’s worth it. I’ll wait..
The Magic of Movies
Now that that’s out of the way, I have to know.. how much do you identify with that movie? I mean, we’ve all had that one annoying boss whose job apparently was to make everyone else as miserable as possible. And he clearly didn’t understand how to be a decent human being, did he? Or we’ve worked with the type of coworkers who would urge you to pass down the cake to make sure everyone got some but then NOT save a piece for you – HOW RUDE! And then there were our workplace besties that we ate lunch with and secretly plotted how we would make all the company trolls pay (in fractions of pennies*, of course).
*Note: If you haven’t watched the movie yet, you’re probably still sitting there wondering what the heck I’m talking about. So just watch it. I promise – it’s good!
Unfortunately, we’re probably not going to be like the Peter Gibbons character and experience one weird round of hypnosis and *poof* – all our cares melt away and everything is right in the world! Though I would often day-dream that it should have happened to me so I would be the one sitting there at my desk eating Cheetos and playing Tetris all day. That would be one heck of a magical stress management session. One that I’d definitely want to participate in it!
Ok, since that probably won’t be happening, what can we do instead? Keep reading to learn where stressors come from, the effects stress has on our health, and some stress management techniques you can try out to reduce your own stress.
Common Causes of Stress
Let’s face it, stress can play a big part in our everyday lives and can come from a number of different sources, including some of the following:
Relationships: Marriage, Divorce, Arguments
Career: Long hours, Unfair wages, Underappreciated, Change of job
Finances: Bad investments, Debt, Loss of income
Your Health (or Family Members’ Health): Illness, Death, Being a caregiver
Home Environment: Family issues, Arguments, No support, Moving, Birth, Pets
Diet: Overeating, Eating out, Bingeing, Yo-yo dieting
Lifestyle: Exercising too much or not exercising at all, Random uncontrollable situations (like traffic), Over-booked schedule
Health Risks of High Stress
Stress can also have detrimental effects on our bodies and our health if we don’t learn to practice some stress management. When we’re under stress for long periods of time, we’re exposed to higher levels of cortisol (the primary stress hormone), as well as other stress hormones, which can wreak havoc on many of your body’s natural processes. This can put you at risk for developing any of the following health problems:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
Source: Mayo Clinic
Take a quick assessment and think about how your body reacts when you get stressed. Do you feel it in your chest and your head? Does your heart beat faster and you’re breathing heavier? Does your face or ears feel hot? Maybe your teeth are clenched and your jaw’s tight? Or your hands balled up tight into fists and your muscles are tense? Are you shaking? Do you want to cry or scream? These are all physical responses that may occur as a result of experiencing stress and are your body’s way of allowing you to react to protect yourself from harm.
Dealing with Stress in a Healthy Way
Let’s do a quick exercise. Take a deep breath and exhale all of that nonsense. Don’t think about whatever’s on your to-do list or what is weighing you down at the moment. Just take another deep breath and let it out, slowly. Regain your peace, get centered and let’s figure out a plan to keep your stress levels from getting so high you just want to scream, or just shut down completely!
While you may not be able to your immediately change your situation at hand, you CAN learn stress management techniques. This will teach you how to you can change the way you react and the impact things have on you.
The first step is to learn what triggers your stress and identify what stresses you out the most. Then you can learn how to protect yourself both emotionally and physically when put in a stressful situation.
One of the biggest things I started to do when I’m feeling stressed out by other people’s actions is to remind myself of something – the world does not revolve around me! I might think someone cut me off on purpose or is trying to be a jerk to me specifically, but in reality, they don’t care about me personally. I just happened to be in the same space as them at the same time. When I think that people are out to “get me” it triggers a negative response within me and I instantly want to call them a name, get bent out of shape or scream at them (does anyone else experience road rage?). Instead, I try to refocus and bring myself back down to reality. I’ll repeat, “The world does not revolve around me. They don’t mean anything personally.” This allows me to forget it and move on.
If just “forgetting it” doesn’t seem possible for you, you can try altering some of your own habits to get a handle on stress management.
To start with, make sure you’re eating a healthy diet and have a regular workout routine. You’ll also want to make sure you get plenty of sleep. To read more on why you need to get a good night’s sleep, head over here for more info.
You can also learn to practice some stress management techniques that can help you bring more peace into your life. This can be things like meditation, yoga, Thai Chi, massage or even learning how to breathe properly. When I see my chiropractor, she really harps on proper breathing techniques as a means of healing. “Proper breathing” always seemed silly to me, because duh, I already know how to breathe. But once I started focusing on it, it really does help. Here’s a quick article to get you started.
Likewise, think about the activities that relax you and do more of those! Read a book, listen to music or a podcast, paint, knit, or even go for a walk. This can be anything that soothes you and takes your mind off anything that’s causing friction in your life.
Building Stronger Relationships
You can also work on your personal relationships and friendships. Spend more time with the people who feed your soul and less time with those who constantly bring you down. The people you hang out with really do have a lot of influence on your mood and attitude. So focus on keeping positive people in your inner circle and the negative ones at arm’s length.
Taking the Pressure Off
Do some brainstorming and think about some ways you can reduce your stress level. Whether it’s in the form of self-care, scheduling non-urgent tasks for a later date, or delegating tasks to others – choose ONE THING you can do this week to start practicing stress management, reducing your stress, and taking the pressure off yourself.
I can’t recommend enough that you try doing some self-care and work on yourself. For some more ideas, grab my FREE list of 22 Ways to Take Care of YOU to get started today.
And if all else fails, you might want to consider seeking professional help from a certified counselor or doctor. While you may think you can “handle it”, in regards to your stress management and stress levels, we aren’t meant to be under constant stress, and it takes its toll. There’s no shame in asking for guidance to help you work through your stress and ways you can reduce it.
If this was helpful to you at all, please share it with your friends or anyone else who you think might benefit from these tips!