How to Manage Stress

Are you under too much stress? Do you feel like you have so many things to do yet there isn’t enough time to get everything done? Do you feel powerless? Do you feel like giving up? Do you feel like nothing is going well for you? If you do, then you are obviously stressed out.

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Everyone experience stress. It happens when you have too much pressure which is much more than you can handle. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines stress as “the reaction people may have when presented with demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope”.

Based on the WHO definition, stress has three components:

  1. Demands/Pressure – This means that there is an outside force that is compelling you or forcing you to do something.
  2. Knowledge and Skills – Knowledge pertains to your understanding about a specific subject or situation while skills are learned ability or expertise on something.
  3. Ability to Cope – How you are able to deal with responsibilities, challenges and difficulties plays a big part on your stress level

Stress is not necessarily a bad thing if it can become your source of motivation to improve yourself. Remember, that stress arises when the outside pressure is not at par with your knowledge and skills. You will be better equipped in handling the same situation if it arises again only if you have learned from that past experience and made conscious effort to improve yourself.

However, too much of stress can affect your overall health. Watch the video by TedEd to find out how stress affects our body.

The good news is that there are simple things that you can do to help manage or reduce stress. According to the American Psychological Association, there are five techniques that you can do to help manage stress:

1. Take a Break from the Stressor

A stressor is the one that causes the stress. A stressor can be a person like your boss, life changes like a death of a loved one, an everyday problem like money issues or it can be an environmental problem like a calamity. While it might be impossible to completely distance yourself from the stressor, you can take a break from it by doing something else that will keep your mind off things even for just 20 minutes.

2. Exercise

When you exercise, your body produces endorphins, a hormone that acts as natural painkillers and mood elevators. It also improves your ability to sleep. Thus, exercise not only benefits the physical body but the mind as well. Thus, doing regular exercise will help lower your stress levels.

3. Smile and Laugh

When you smile and laugh, your body also releases endorphins. Endorphins lower your stress hormones cortisol. Too much cortisol produces negative feelings. A good hard belly laugh can reduce tension. Even a fake smile helps reduce stress and lowers heart rate. So, if you want a quick release of tension, forced yourself to smile.

4. Get support

A co-study done by Sarah Townsend of USC Marshall School of Business, Heeding Kim of UC Santa Barbara and Batja Mesquita of University of Leuven, Belgium that sharing your stress or worries with someone else, especially if that person is undergoing the same kind of stress, helps decrease the stress. It is important to talk to someone who understands you.

5. Meditate

Meditation is deep state of relaxation and tranquility. Meditation controls our breathing, pulse rate and blood pressure. It is a simple technique, but if practice just for a few minutes, will give you many benefits. It helps clear your mind of worries. It also releases negative emotions.

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