Stress Management Techniques
Do I really need stress management techniques?
Next week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year the charity is strongly focusing on stress. Research shows that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our life, and stress is the key factor in this. Here, we look back at one of our old articles from 2016 and see how these stress management techniques are still as relevant as ever…
Many of us, when we feel stressed, also feel powerless to do anything about it. Often we persuade ourselves that it’s just part of life, and that we should be able to cope with “everyday stresses and strains”. WRONG – we all need stress management techniques if we are to live life to the full – be healthy, happy and be resilient.
A Normal Psychological & Physical Reaction?
First off – Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life. In looking at the causes of stress, remember that your brain comes hard-wired with an alarm system for your protection.
When your brain perceives a threat, it signals your body to release a burst of hormones to fuel your capacity for a response. This has been labeled the “fight-or-flight” response. Once the threat is gone, your body is meant to return to a normal relaxed state.
Unfortunately, the nonstop stress of modern life means that your alarm system rarely shuts off. That’s why stress management techniques are so important. Stress management techniques can give you a whole range of tools to reset your alarm system.
Without stress management techniques, all too often your body is frequently on high alert. Over time, high levels of stress lead to serious health problems. Don’t wait until stress has a negative impact on your health, relationships or quality of life. Start practicing stress management techniques today – that work for you!
What I am going to share with you is some things that you can do, simply to help to raise your awareness and to help to manage and reduce stress by looking at the causes of your stress and then changing your thinking, behaviour and lifestyle!
Targeting the cause of your stress (stress triggers).
The first step to coping with stress is identifying what stresses you. The following are a few of the common causes of stress:
- having too much or too little work
- lack of control over issues that are important to you
- deadlines and other time pressures at home or work
- demands from clients, kids, friends, family, co-workers
- chronic illness / injury
- loss of a job
- caring for some-one
- problems balancing work and home life
- a traumatic event
The list goes on …
Your stress level will differ based on your personality and how you respond to situations. Some people let everything roll off their back. To them, work stresses and life stresses are just minor bumps in the road. Others literally worry themselves sick.
Once you’ve identified your stress triggers, you can start thinking about strategies for dealing with them. Identifying what aspect of the situation you can control is a good starting point and that includes your thinking, behaviour and lifestyle.
Changing your thinking.
The most important step in changing your thinking is to stop putting up with feeling stressed and recognise the need for change. Stress causes a vicious cycle that eats away at your ability to think clearly and calmly about things – especially the things that are making you stressed in the first place.
Try to think afresh about your job / situation / family member – whatever it is that is stressing you and ask yourself ‘could I be doing this differently?’. Challenge unnecessary ‘rules’ that you or others have set and try to be more flexible in how you approach problems. If you’re not sure why you feel stressed, keep a ‘stress diary’. THEY REALLY DO WORK!!!!
Think about the ways you cope with time pressures, deadlines, responsibilities and change – you may need to develop a new mental approach to stop them overwhelming you.
Changing your behaviour and lifestyle.
Below are a few tips that are all linked to your lifestyle and behaviour…
- Adopt a healthier lifestyle – If we eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and ensure we get adequate rest our body is better able to cope with stress should it occur.
- Know your limitations and do not take on too much. We cause ourselves a great deal of stress because we do not like to say no to people. We like people to like us and do not want to let people down. We then end up doing more than we should.
- Learn to be assertive and how to say no without upsetting or offending people. Practice saying “No” without feeling guilty.
- Avoid unnecessary conflict. Don’t be too argumentative. Is it really worth the stress? Look for win – win situations. Look for a solution to a dispute where both parties can achieve a positive outcome.
- Learn to manage your time more effectively – We waste a lot of time doing unimportant tasks. Prioritize your day and do the important jobs first. The unimportant ones can wait, and often they will disappear completely leaving you time to do other things. Also do not put off the unpleasant tasks. Every time we think about them we cause ourselves stress. Give an unpleasant task a high priority and do it first.
- Take time out to relax and recharge your batteries – You will perform much better after a break and easily make up the time you used relaxing.
- Find time to meet friends. Friends help us see things in a different way. The activities we engage in with friends usually help us relax and we will often have a good laugh. Laughter is a great stress reducer. It boosts the immune system, which is often depleted during stress.
- Avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine as coping mechanisms. – Long term, these faulty coping mechanisms will just add to the problem. For example, caffeine is a stimulant and our body reacts to this with the stress response.
- If you do become stressed, engage in some form of physical activity. Physical activity will work off the biochemical and physical changes that occur within your body due to stress. Or if you prefer then try a relaxation technique. Relaxation helps your body return to its normal healthy state. Good relaxation techniques include breathing exercises, massage and a variety of complimentary therapies
Build Your Resilience
The key to effective stress management and to building your resilience is practicing the techniques that work for you, regularly!
We really do hope this has heightened your awareness (for you and those around you) as to the importance of stress management techniques and most importantly makes a positive impact on your health and wellbeing.
If you need help with a stress diary we have a template that you can use, simply email: STRESS DIARY TEMPLATE and request one for FREE.
If you feel you would benefit from some 1-2-1 stress management coaching then please just ask – we have a tried and tested, 12 session coaching programme that can be delivered face to face or via telecoaching – simply pick what works best for you! To find out more simply call 0333 444365 for a non obligation, stress-free chat!
Mental Health Awareness Workshops
Our workshop aims to raise the awareness of mental health. We give a broad overview of what encompasses mental illness, the link between mental and physical health diagnoses and we outline some strategies to improve wellbeing.
These two sessions continually refer to the fact that we all have mental health! They provide attendees with some general strategies to help support any one who is worried about their mental health, and advice about where to find extra support. Like physical health, we all need to be aware of our mental health.
To find out more to book a workshop in your workplace, get in touch. You can contact us online or call 0333 444 7365.