Stress is manageable. After taking the steps to identify the root of your stress and then measuring your stress levels, there are many suggested mechanisms by which one can cope with and manage stress. These mechanisms include physical, mental and emotional activities that work towards lowering stress levels by relaxing your mind and body.
Physical coping mechanisms
Engaging in various types of physical activity can serve to alleviate stress. Everything from walking to cleaning your home can help reduce stress levels. Exercise is extremely beneficial. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. Stretching, alone, relieves muscle tension and may contribute to some relief of life’s many strains.
Relaxing the body is also important. Breathing exercises and muscle relaxation can help relieve the body. Roll breathing is an example of deep breathing that can be beneficial. Progressive muscle relaxation, which reduces muscle tension by relaxing separate groups of muscles one by one, is a physical activity that may assist in stress relief. Techniques such as Yoga, tai chi, and qi gong that combine exercise and meditation may require some training to first learn them, but are convenient activities that can be done at home.
Mental and Emotional coping mechanisms
It’s important to learn ways to relax your mind. Free writing for about 10 to 15 minutes about stressful events that occurred or about your emotions in general is a good practice that, similar to a stress journal, can help you identify your emotions, the cause of those emotions and how you respond to those emotions. Once you know these things, you can find better ways to cope with your emotions, especially stress.
It also helps to express your feelings. Let your thoughts and emotions be known by talking with friends, family, counselor, or some individual in whom you can confide. Exposing internalized feelings in a controlled situation is a healthy way to cope with stress. Participating in activities that you enjoy and that allow for some form of expression is also helpful. Engaging in a hobby or creative activity or providing care for pets or others through volunteer work can all be beneficial forms of expression.
Meditation and guided imagery are also two methods that focus and relax your mind. Meditation allows you to focus your attention to things that are presently occurring, with the assistance of deliberate breathing. With guided imagery, you imagine yourself in any setting that helps you feel calm and relaxed. You can use audiotapes, books, or a teacher to guide you.
How to avoid stress
Stress may be inevitable for certain lifestyles or situations. However, there are a number of ways to try and minimize and avoid the amount of stress that you experience.
- Manage your time and prioritize responsibilities and commitments
- Explore your current use of coping mechanisms and make the necessary adjustments
- Take care of yourself — physically, mentally and emotionally
- Explore new ways of thinking. Step outside of your comfort zone to assess how you think about things and make the necessary adjustments
- Avoid overworking yourself
- Express yourself
- Practice assertive communication
- Seek assistance, when needed
- Share your feelings
- Establish a balance between the different realms of your life
- Recognize your support system and use it
- Determine your goals, purpose and source of fulfillment and then work towards it
- Avoid negative thinking (it can trigger your body’s stress response) and always seek to exercise positive thinking,
- Practice effective problem-solving skills