Stress impacts greatly on everyone’s lives, but it is our experiences of the past that can either make or break our ability to cope. Managing and blocking stress is easier than just ignoring its presence because ignoring it is not always possible. You develop resilience by learning to manage your stress appropriately, meaning that you can develop better coping mechanisms to use when seriously high stress situations arise and you will then do this very well. If you have finally decided to take back control of your life by not letting very stressful events and people dominate you, the now is the time for you to start hearing about some ideal strategies for coping with stress.
The mechanisms that you use to cope with stress are just the beginning of the coping process that you will deal with. Some of what you will do will involve support groups that can reduce your stress symptoms, but you may also find more peace from doing a hobby or other favourite past time, avoiding the stresses of daily life for a short break. As such, by taking on healthier choices in life, your emergence from any stressful occurrence will benefit your concentration, still supplying you with all the energy that you need. You benefit by facing stressful moments and issues with ease. Your stamina is rebuilt and strengthened and you survive even the hardest and most stressful events with greater ease as time goes by.
Relaxation is another tool that you must learn. On arriving home from work, avoid immediate contact with anyone you live with and find a quiet spot to unwind your mind, clearing it off all work thoughts and stresses by having a relaxing bath. Then, try focussing on mingling with those you live with and you will find the experience that much more pleasant. Though these may seem rather trivial, they really will help you rid yourself of stress and unwind.
Stress management also includes exercise. You might have become a couch potato with all your stresses, feeling sorry for yourself and wanting to just scream. However, that is why having daily walks or doing some form of exercise is good for your mind and body, allowing it to finally heal. You want to heal properly, don’t you? If you think that this will solve everything, think again. One final note that you should make to yourself about healing and stress is to start creating a list of things that will work best for you that you can add to these amazing ways to reduce your stress. You can also find your own methods for exceptional strategies for reducing stress. You just have to start now. So what are you waiting for?
Stress management strategy #1: Avoid unnecessary stressNot all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.
* Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to reaching them. Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress.* Avoid people who stress you out – If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely. * Take control of your environment – If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online.* Avoid hot-button topics – If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list. If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion
* Pare down your to-do list – Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.
Stress management strategy #2: Alter the situationIf you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
* Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same.* Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.
* Be more assertive. Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk.
* Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under.
Stress management strategy #3: Adapt to the stressorIf you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
* Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.
* Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
* Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”
* Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective. Adjusting Your AttitudeHow you think can have a profound affect on your emotional and physical well-being. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself, your body reacts as if it were in the throes of a tension-filled situation. If you see good things about yourself, you are more likely to feel good; the reverse is also true. Eliminate words such as “always,” “never,” “should,” and “must.” These are telltale marks of self-defeating thoughts.
Stress management strategy #4: Accept the things you can’t change
Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.
* Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control— particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.
* Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.
* Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.* Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.Stress management strategy #5: Make time for fun and relaxation
Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come. Healthy ways to relax and recharge* Go for a walk. * Spend time in nature. * Call a good friend. * Sweat out tension with a good workout. * Write in your journal. * Take a long bath. * Light scented candles * Savor a warm cup of coffee or tea. * Play with a pet. * Work in your garden. * Get a massage. * Curl up with a good book. * Listen to music. * Watch a comedy Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.* Set aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.
* Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress.
* Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
* Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways. Learn the relaxation response
You can control your stress levels with relaxation techniques that evoke the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response. Regularly practicing these techniques will build your physical and emotional resilience, heal your body, and boost your overall feelings of joy and equanimity.
Stress management strategy #6: Adopt a healthy lifestyleYou can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health. * Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. Nothing beats aerobic exercise for releasing pent-up stress and tension.
* Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.
* Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.
* Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.
* Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.
Did you know that you can use aromatherapy as part of your coping strategies for stress? Whilst some are sceptical about the power of alternative therapies to help and heal, aromatherapy has been shown in studies to help fight stress. Read on to find out how you can use aromatherapy to calm and relieve your stress and its symptoms.
Aromatherapy is a method of using scents or aromas, generally produced from plant essential oils, to create balance and healing in the body and mind. Think for a moment about the power of smell. Have you ever been overtaken by a scent that took you straight back to a past memory or reminded you of a person who is long since out of your life? Our sense of smell is very powerful and can produce impressive effects in the body and mind.
Aromatherapy works by stimulating our sense of smell, through the olfactory nerves in our nose. This affects our limbic system which is the part of the brain which regulates our moods, emotions and behaviour. This part of our brain also exerts control over our hormones and stress levels. It is thought to have evolved to manage our fight or flight response, an essential part of our reaction to stress.
It is therefore not surprising that scents can have a powerful effect on state of mind and emotions and, therefore, that certain essential oils should be effective in treating certain states of mind, such as stress. The main method of aromatherapy treatment is by inhalation which invokes the response in the brain specified above. And if our mind is responsible for producing the symptoms of stress in the body, then improving our state of mind can only help our stress symptoms. Studies have shown inhalation of essential oils to reduce blood pressure, pulse rate, subjective stress, anxiety and cortisol levels (the “stress hormone”).
Research has shown that our brainwaves are affected by aromatherapy. The frequency of our brainwaves corresponds to our state of activity or relaxation. For example, a brain actively engaged in mental activities would be generating beta brainwaves, whereas alpha brainwaves would indicate a more relaxed state of mind. John Steele and Robert Tisserand showed that when calming oils are inhaled, they alter our brainwaves to a pattern of calmness. Lavender has been found to produce the effect of alpha brainwaves. To relieve stress we would want to relax and it is no coincidence that Lavender is one of the most cited essential oils for stress relief.
Another method of applying aromatherapy is through topical application, directly onto the skin. The oils are absorbed into the body through the skin and there is evidence that the chemical compounds contained within have antibacterial and antioxidant properties and a beneficial effect on various tissues.
So, how can we best use aromatherapy to reduce our stress levels? Well, anything that is scented with an aroma that is known to help relax the mind should be able to help, although to a degree, the scents that relax us can be subjective. However, some of the fragrances which are most soothing for stress relief are lavender, camomile, sandalwood and ylang-ylang.
Adding aromatherapy oils to our bath can increase the relaxation benefits that we gain due to inhalation of the oils. Oils can also be inhaled via oil burners, on a tissue or using incense. You can also find candles, room fragrances and pillow sprays especially sold as stress relief products. And there are even scented “stress relief wraps” to apply, hot or cold, as compresses to stressed, tired muscles and joints.
Another fantastic way of relieving stress with aromatherapy is using massage. Professional massages will generally involve the use of aromatherapy oils, tailored to any symptoms from which you are suffering. You can also “do it yourself”. There are ready mixed stress relief massage oils available or you can mix your own by following a formula which you find in a book or on the internet.
So, now that you know that aromatherapy has been shown to relieve symptoms of stress and help sufferers, why not try it in your own campaign to fight stress. Make it a part of your regular stress coping strategies and see how much it can help you.
References – 1. The effects of the inhalation method using essential oils on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension, Hwang JH, Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2006 Dec;36(7):1123-34. – 2. Smelling lavender and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol level in saliva, Atsumi T, Tonosaki K, Psychiatry Res. 2007 Feb 28;150(1):89-96. Epub 2007 Feb 7. 3. John Steele (aromatic consultant) from Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Steele_%28aromatic_consultant%29
The workplace can cause stress on a regular basis.
The regular day to day interactions with coworkers, the urgency of meeting deadlines and the increasing workload that a single employee has to handle can cause real and immediate stress and anxiety on a regular basis. This repeated stress and anxiety is unhealthy and can spill over into other aspects of life, affecting personal and family relationships. This side effect, in turn, can cause a person more stress and it becomes a vicious cycle. Understanding the issues that cause stress in the workplace is the first step towards relieving the stress and anxiety most employees feel every day.
Understanding workplace stress and anxiety can help remedy it.
In order to handle the stress and anxiety associated with a job, it is necessary to identify the stressors that are unique to your situation. Only then can you employ any number of natural stress relief strategies and actually see results related to your efforts. There are several situations that can cause regular and repeated stress in the workplace. For instance, having a disagreement or a clashing of ideas with a colleague can lead to stress if a resolution to the issue is not foreseeable. Also, stress and anxiety can occur when you have the same deadline for equally important projects that must be completed. This can also be attributed to the overall fact that employees are receiving an increased workload without an increased salary and ultimately fewer resources due to the shrinking workforce in most companies. All of these scenarios can worry a person continuously, contributing to other stress-related symptoms like insomnia and even depression.
How can workplace stress and anxiety be controlled naturally?
Now that we have a good idea about what particular situations in the workplace cause a person to feel pressure and apprehension, we can work towards handling each situation in a different way, thereby relieving some of the symptoms associated with stress and anxiety. There are a several natural remedies that can be tried with little difficulty and the benefits can be felt immediately. Here are a few to consider.
What if breathing exercise and other techniques do not cure the anxiety and stress?
If the natural remedies outlined above are not working to relieve stress and anxiety, there are many others to try. With a little research, more remedies can be found and with a little luck, one will be exactly what is needed for the specific and unique situations that are associated with the workplace. However, there are other natural ways to relieve stress and anxiety. Research has shown that the right combination of certain natural herbs and vitamins can absolutely relieve the stress and anxiety related to the stressors a person normally encounters in the workplace.
Natural supplements are a healthier alternative to prescription medications for stress and anxiety relief.
There is clinically proven evidence that supplements such as St. John’s Wort, L-Theapine, B Complex Vitamins, Passion Flower Extract and Bioperine have relieved many of the unhealthy symptoms associated with stress and anxiety. In fact, finding the right combination of these natural remedies would make all the difference and relieve stress and anxiety when taken properly. Coupling a natural supplement with the natural remedies outlined above, such as Yoga breathing techniques, will undoubtedly allow for much wanted relief from stress and anxiety.