The sad truth is that stress has become such an integral part of our daily lives that we don’t really realise it’s there. It’s almost like a shadow creeping in the corners of our fears, insecurities and misfortunes which sometimes overwhelm us and make us feel depressed, deeply unhappy and very anxious.
There are many factors from the external world, called stressors, which trigger the feeling of stress: personal issues or family problems, inability to meet the criteria of a task or a challenge skill-wise, inability to cope with certain situations, workload, etc.
Nevertheless, we are in control and we are the ones who can manage the levels of stress we experience. If stress is left untreated or not dealt with, that may lead to some severe, even detrimental, complications such as cancer, obesity, heart diseases and many others. Unsurprisingly, research has found that people who experience high levels of stress are five times more likely to have health problems.
So what can we do to fight it or at least ease it?
First, it’s important to:
Realise that it is there. It may not sound like much but it is. Most of the stressors are psychological, not physical which means that once you know that you’re stressed, it gets easier to control how you feel.
Identify what stresses you out: that way you’d be able to come up with a proper strategy to fight off the feeling.
Identify what your current stress-coping techniques are: smoking, drinking, taking pills or drugs, withdrawing from social activities, sleeping too much, procrastinating, and taking out your stress on others.
In a stressful situation, it is usually the case that you cannot change it but you can try changing your attitude.
Keep a positive attitude and take a deep breath
Learn to say ‘NO’: know your limits and try to say ‘no’ to things, responsibilities and people that are more than you can handle; also, know that it is all OK, there are events that are out of our control so just make peace with that.
Try to adapt to people, topics and external factors that stress you out: this may be a tough one but if you manage to do it, you’ve won the war with yourself. Plus, it is always better to be assertive than aggressive as you won’t say or do things you may regret later on.
Look at the big picture
That is my most effective mechanism when coping with stress, unhappiness, anxiety and anger. I always try to look at a situation from different perspectives and measure up how important it is for the long-term. Usually I realise the situation is definitely not worth worry or stressing about. It is also worth considering taking at a stressful situation as a challenge; that will motivate you to overcome it.
Get Active and Eat a healthy diet!
Well-nourished and also fit bodies are better prepared to cope with stress. Go for a run, or get a massage, or just dance; The point is to fill in the time (or make the time!) with something that will take your mind off the situation and will help you release some of the adrenalin rush when under stress.
Get it off your chest: talk to a friend or your family, even if they cannot help you much with the situation you’re in, talking about will certainly make you feel a bit relieved.Get enough rest and sleep: your body and mind need time to recover from stressful situations. Laugh or do something else that will relax you: meditation, a long bath perhaps, a walk in the park, even a cry or a shout if it will make you feel better and take the stress out.
It’s all a matter of perspective and self-control. I know, I know, easier said than done but you are the one in control of how you perceive the world and how you respond to it.
Written by Dr. Noel Duncan