According to the secular world, if you can’t be as cool as a cucumber, then you might as well be high as a kite. Substance abuse, hookup culture, and club hopping are the name of the game. However, there are healthier techniques of stress management. External stress relief is only temporary and does not resolve the root issue causing the stress. You must deal with anxiety internally to achieve lasting peace of mind.
What is stress?
Stress refers to your body’s response to challenges and demands. These are both emotional and physical reactions to stressful stimuli. While we often think of it as negative, stress can also come from positive changes in your life, such as a job promotion or a new baby.
Everyone experiences stress, which can be caused by a variety of events, from small everyday worries to big changes like a divorce or job loss. The stress response includes physical components such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, personal thoughts and beliefs about the stressful event, and emotions, including fear and anger.
What is healthy stress management?
Stress has an important purpose: it allows us to react quickly to threats and avoid dangers. However, long-term exposure to stress can cause mental health problems. For example, prolonged exposure to stress can result in anxiety and depression or a decline in your overall health.
A large body of research suggests that increased stress levels interfere with your ability to cope with physical illness. While no one can avoid all stress, you can work on coping with it healthily so you can recover better.
Eat and drink to optimize your health.
Some people attempt stress management by drinking alcohol or eating junk food. These actions may seem helpful at the moment, but they lead to long-term health problems. The consumption of alcohol and comfort foods results in substantial weight gain and related diseases. You do not want to worry about your health on top of whatever else is causing you distress.
Instead, you should consume a healthy and balanced diet to help fight stress. Good nutrition keeps you energized and functioning properly. You need your wits about you If you ever hope to tackle your situation or minimize the blowback.
Work out regularly.
In addition to physical health benefits, exercise is a powerful stress reliever. Consider non-competitive aerobic exercise, weight training, or physical activity like yoga or tai chi, and set reasonable goals. Aerobic exercise has been shown to release endorphins – natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a cheerful outlook.
Stop using tobacco and nicotine products.
People who use nicotine often claim that it is great for stress management. However, nicotine puts more stress on the body by increasing physical stimulation while decreasing blood flow and breathing. Smokers who go for long periods without a cigarette often resort to chewing gum or other foods to keep their mouths busy and fight the craving. A smoking habit is often addictive and leads to serious respiratory issues down the road.
Instead, practice breathing exercises that help with relieving stress. Take long, drawn-out breaths, focusing on the air rushing in and out of your lungs. Block out whatever is stressing you, and just breathe. If you allow yourself time to breathe, sometimes you will see that you were blowing the situation way out of proportion.
Study and practice relaxation techniques.
Taking time each day to relax helps manage stress and protect the body from the effects of anxiety. You can choose from several techniques, such as deep breathing, imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation. Many online and smartphone apps offer guidance on these techniques. While some are for purchase, many are available for free.
Reduce stress triggers.
If you are like most people, your life may be filled with too many requests and too little time. For the most part, these requirements are what we have chosen. You can free up time by practicing time management skills, such as asking for help when appropriate, prioritizing, pacing, and taking the time to take care of yourself.
Examine your values and live by them.
The more your actions reflect your beliefs, the better off you will feel, no matter how busy your life is. Use your values when choosing your activities.
Learn to say “no”
There’s nothing wrong with saying “no” when it comes to your time and your energy and avoid making yourself feel too tired. You don’t always have to meet other people’s expectations. Set realistic goals and expectations.
It’s normal – and healthy – to realize that you can’t be 100% successful at everything at once. Pay attention to the things you can control and work to accept the things you can’t control. When you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself of what you do well. Build up your self-esteem.
There are several other methods you can use to relax or relieve stress, including:
- Meditation – focus on God’s Word concerning your situation.
- Mindfulness – stay in the moment, neither regretting the past nor dreading the future.
- Progressive muscle relaxation – stress makes you tense up. Loosen up your muscles and feel the tension releasing
- Mental Imaging Relaxation – find your happy place. It could be a place you visited or wish to visit.
- Relax to music – worship music helps turn the attention off yourself and toward God.
- Biofeedback – listen to your body. Headaches or any other physical symptoms are a sign for you to take it easy and rest.
- Counseling, to help you recognize and release stress.
What to do if you have trouble sleeping
Good sleep is important for stress management, but anxiety for the most part keeps you up at night. You may experience difficulty sleeping (insomnia) due to discomfort, stress from personal concerns, or side effects from your medications. If you can’t sleep, try these tips:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule – go to bed at the same time every day and wake up at the same time.
- Make sure your bed and surroundings are comfortable. Arrange the pillows to find a comfortable position.
- Keep your bedroom dark and quiet – the blue light from cellphones and laptops disturbs sleep patterns. Be sure to turn unimportant notifications off at night.
- Only use your bedroom for sleeping. Don’t work or watch TV in your bedroom.
- Avoid sleeping too much during the day. At the same time, remember to balance activity with rest periods. Sleeping during the day interrupts your circadian rhythm.
- If you feel nervous or anxious, talk to your spouse, partner, or trusted friend. Eliminate your problems from the mind.
- Listen to relaxing music or white noise. The sound of ocean waves or TV static lulls most people to sleep at night.
- Don’t rely on sleeping pills. They can be harmful when taken with other medicines. Use them only when recommended by your health care provider for a short time when other non-drug methods do not work.
- Take diuretics or “water pills” as soon as possible so you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.
- If you can’t sleep, get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired. Don’t stay in bed wondering when you’re going to fall asleep.
- Avoid caffeine.
- Maintain a regular exercise routine, but don’t exercise within two to three hours of going to bed.
Do you need counseling for stress management?
Contact your counselor or contact our offices for more information on these stress relief techniques and other tips. They can help you learn how your body responds to stressful situations and how you can cope better.
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