How to Reduce Stress Effectively
There’s no way you can possibly prevent stress, so you might as well learn how to effectively reduce stress. The human body is programmed to respond to threatening and dangerous situations with stress. This response is essential for survival. Think of our ancestors coming face to face with a saber-tooth tiger. In this situation, the stress response is fight or flight.
While a saber-tooth tiger is not a likely stressor these days, life nonetheless offers numerous stressful situations, both at work and at home. Without the right techniques to manage stress, your physical and mental health can suffer drastically.
Here’s what you can do to effectively reduce stress:
Identify the sources of stress.
The first step in preventing or reducing stress is to identify the factors or situations that cause it in the first place. A heavy workload or hectic environment at work can lead to stress. Oftentimes, stress can be caused by worries and anxieties (real or imagined), debts, procrastination, and poor time management.
Change the situation.
There are two ways to do this. You can either avoid or alter the stressor. Avoid stress by learning to say no. Do not take on more work than you can handle. If there are people who stress you out, avoid coming in contact with them or minimize the amount of time you spend with them. Prioritize your “to-do” list. Decide which tasks you really have to do, and do them first. There may even be tasks that you can eliminate altogether.
There are times when you cannot avoid stressful situations. In that case, find a way to alter the situation. If someone’s behavior irritates you, talk to that person and ask them to change their behavior. However, you should also be willing to compromise and make some changes yourself. If you’re suffering from stress because of poor time management, learn to plan ahead and don’t spread yourself too thin.
Change your reaction to the stressor.
Sometimes, you can effectively reduce stress by simply changing how you react to stressful situations. There are times when you cannot change the stressor. The best thing to do, therefore, is to change yourself. If you want perfection or your standards are too high, learn to be more realistic and forgiving. Set reasonable standards and learn to be happy with “good enough”. Focus on the positive to help keep things in perspective.
Accept that there are things you can’t control or change. Acceptance can be difficult but it is one of the best ways to cope with stress.
Take the time to have fun and relax.
Fun and relaxation make it easier for you to handle stress better. Read a book, take a walk, watch a movie, or go out with a friend. Taking care of your own needs is a necessity, not a luxury.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Mental and physical well-being are essential if you want to effectively reduce stress. Exercise regularly, eat a nutritious diet, and get enough sleep.